12 Best Tactical Backpacks For Your Survival Gear

best-tactical-backpacks

So, you’ve been diligent on fulfilling the task of collecting all the essential survival gear. Across your room – a sprawling spectacle of the gear you found on the Bear Grylls official survival checklist (just kidding.) There is only one problem – you do not have a backpack to put all this stuff in. More specifically, you do not have a tactical backpack to put all this stuff in. Did you think all this was going in the Jansport bag you’ve had since freshman year of High school? Not if you’re serious about busting out of a full blown SHTF situation.

Read this post for an in depth bug out bag checklist.

What is a tactical backpack?

Tactical is a term to used to represent gear that has a functional or practical use in specific situations – usually military or high intensity situations where the gear you have must hold up to pressure. Tactical backpacks are backpacks designed with heavy use in mind. They are extremely durable and have features you typically don’t see on normal backpacks – external Molle for example. Molle is external webbing designed by the military to add extra storage space to the pack. It’s been a standard on tactical backpacks for a long time. When you buy a tactical backpack you can be damn sure the thing is going to hold up to whatever you put it through. For this reason, they make great bug out bags.

Let’s crack into the packs.

Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

tactical-ghost-backpack
The Direct Action Ghost Tactical Backpack

This is a 31.5 liter that packs in serious versatility. The Ghost tactical backpack features a main storage compartment as well as a detachable external pouch. 500D cordura materials makes this pack extremely durable. One thing I really love about this pack is the slimmer/taller profile than most tactical backpacks. The entire pack looks super clean – especially with laser cut Molle running the exterior of both the main compartment and the detachable pouch. Deeply padded in all the areas that matter, primarily the back plate and the shoulder straps. The Ghost also has a 2.5L hydration bladder pouch built straight into the main compartment. I could see the Ghost tactical backpack being a great SHTF backpack and a competent pack you could take out hiking or backpacking.

Spec Ops Ultimate Assault Pack

spec-ops-backpack-molle
The SPEC OPS Tactical Backpack

Another extremely durable pack boasting unique design features you won’t find in other packs. For one, the High-Vis material lining the inside of the pack is actually quite nice. The sharp contrasted background allows you to easily locate items in your pack visually. The zippers and buckles on the Spec Ops are hands down the strongest I’ve ever seen on a pack. They are seriously well built. Thick zippers and thick buckles are crucial to having a functional pack for years to come. But what about pack space?  This tactical backpack features 3 main cargo areas and a hydration pouch giving you 40L of raw storage capacity. That’s a good amount of space. I find that 30L is not enough but 50L is too much. 40L hits the sweet spot. 1000D nylon makes this pack virtually bombproof. This pack also has a unique blend of both traditional and laser-cut Molle on the externals of the pack.

Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack

Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack
Monkey Paks Tactical Backpack

Don’t let the name detract you from thinking this is not a serious pack. This is a full blown tactical backpack in a smaller profile. It’s one of the smaller packs on this list but it packs in massive punches in a few key areas. One, this pack is going to be a lot lighter than most. This is crucial for those who value speed and efficiency over all else. Bulky packs will slow you down and you probably don’t need half the gear you packed in it anyways. The Monkey Paks tactical backpack comes with 5 pouches including a hydration pouch – and best of all, the hydration bladder is actually included with this one! Everything from the zippers to the waterproof 600D nylon material is just as rugged as the other contenders on this list. At $40 USD, you can’t go wrong.

Protector Plus Military Tactical Backpack

Protector Plus Tactical Backpack
Protector Plus Tactical Backpack

Do you want to go full blown pack mule status? I know many guys who go balls to the wall no matter what they do. If SHTF, you know they’re going to have every single survival widget packed and ready to rock. The Protector Plus tactical backpack features a ton of space – up to 80L. That’s more than enough room to pack for 2 – 3 people including yourself. All of this space is sectioned out between the main rucksack and 3 external pockets. You have one zippered pouch on the front and 2 side pockets – all of them generous in size. This pack is waterproof and completely solid. You have Molle on the externals so you could load it down even more with extra Molle compatible pouches.

Arcenciel 40L Tactical backpack

Arcenciel Tactical Backpack
Arcenciel Tactical Backpack

Storage pockets…storage pockets everywhere! One thing I see people discuss on forums is the lack of storage pockets on tactical backpacks. Many packs are rucksack style and designed only with raw storage capacity in mind. The Arcenciel 40L tactical backpack breaks this trend and delivers extreme storage organization in a sturdy, military grade profile. You will find yourself discovering new pockets all the time. This pack has plenty of space to store all your critical gear and enough Molle to add more if need be. Lots of design options too. Rainfly included.

USMC Assault Pack

USMC Assault Pack
USMC Assault Pack

Yes, the same pack they use in the United States Marines Core. It goes without saying that this pack is well built and absolutely bombproof. You could throw this thing through a wood chipper and still use it to bug out. This pack features an internal frame and detachable top lid. In total there is 70 Liters of internal space. You will find it easy to lash gear to the externals of the pack with the many buckles and Molle webbings. Definitely the most well built, bombpoof pack on this list.

5.11 Tactical Rush 72

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

If you’re an avid reader of this blog you know how much I talk about the 5.11 tactical Rush 72. It’s one of my favorite packs and for lots of reasons. Tactical backpacks tend to look very military. I like packs that can keep the durability of a military pack while looking somewhat civilian. The 5.11 Tactical Rush 72 delivers. 1050D nylon makes this pack one of the strongest on this list – damn near waterproof with an extra layer of water resistant coating. Lots of meshed pockets too including a fleece lined top pocket for scratchable pieces of gear. You’re still going to want to keep your smartphone scratch free in an SHTF situation right?

>>>Read my full review of the 511 72 Hour Rush<<<

Condor 3 day assault pack

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
Condor 3 Day Assault Pack

 

This is a simple and durable pack. There is nothing fancy about this tactical backpack and that’s a good thing. For those of you that just want a pack that’s going to last, this is your pack. The Condor 3 day assault pack is a no frills, practical bug out bag. It has a number of pockets including space in the main pouch for two 3L hydration pouches. This is a really solid backpack with nothing that over complicates the process of bugging out.

Kelty Eagle 7850

Kelty-Falcon-4000
The Kelty Eagle 7850

Kelty is a traditional backpack manufacturer but they over delivered with the Eagle. This is a true to the word tactical backpack built for serious MOUNTAIN OPS. This is a stuff and go pack. Definitely not for the type of person who demands that everything be neatly organized. The Kelty Eagle 7850 features a large 66L “dump and go” style cargo sack and a detachable lid pouch that can be used as a fanny pack or shoulder sling. Simple yet versatile. The front zipper you see opens up to the main compartment of the pack giving you easy access to your gear. I have to admit, I’m starting to prefer ruckstack style backpacks over the traditional clam shell style. It’s easier to get to gear and easier to load up at a moments notice. Don’t overlook the Kelty Eagle if you’re in the market for a tactical backpack.

Camelbak Motherload

The Camelbak Motherlode
The Camelbak Motherlode

Camelbak, the leading manufacturer of fine hydration packs has entered the tactical market with a strong competitor. The Camelbak Motherlode is a surprisingly capable tactical backpack. On the front you have the traditional Molle webbing that comes standard with any solid tactical backpack. Also on the front you have an admin pocket with generous storage space and all kinds of pockets to stay organized. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Camelbak if it didn’t come with a top of the line hydration bladder. The more I take my Camelbak out the more I appreciate the convenience of having a hydration bladder readily accessible. Pair a pack like this with a portable water filter and we’re talking serious versatility when it comes time to bug out. One thing to note is just how comfortable the Camelbak Motherlode is. It’s got thick padding where it counts. If you’ve done any amount of hiking or backpacking you know the last thing you want is a shoestring backpack strap digging into your traps the whole time.

NPUSA Tactical Daypack

NPUSA Tactical Day Pack
NPUSA Tactical Day Pack

I’m including this one here because of the raw value. For $40 the NPUSA daypack can’t be beat. And don’t let the name fool you either – this pack is more than capable of going full pack mule status with 32 Liters of storage. Of course, the external Molle adds to the functionality and what you can carry. 600D nylon material gives this pack the strength and durability required to blow through any survival situation without busting halfway in between. Lots of value here that can’t be passed up.

Pinty 600D Tactical backpack

PINTY 600D Tactical Pack
PINTY 600D Tactical Pack

If you really want to go total value mode then this is your pack. It’s an overall solid pack with only a few cons. For the price though you really can’t complain. I wouldn’t have this pack on the list if it wasn’t fully capable of handling the roughest conditions. It’s built durable like the other packs but with a smaller profile. It’s a 20L pack which is significantly smaller than the other ones. You’re going to have to pack smart – you definitely won’t be taking any bulky tents with you in this one.

Which to choose?

I know this is a massive list of tactical backpacks. It’s hard to make a choice with so many options available to you. If I had to boil it down to the absolute best pack on this list I got to go with the 5.11 Rush 72. It’s such a quality pack and heavily tested. You won’t find too many people who have problems with the 5.11 line of products. Simply the best in the business. If price is an issue the NPUSA tactical daypack is the obvious choice. It’s durable and large enough to carry all your essential gear.

With that said, don’t wait until its too late to snatch one of these packs up. You never know when the shit is going to hit the fan!

Ultimate Showdown – ESEE 5 vs ESEE 6

esee-5-vs-6-review

The ESEE 5 and 6 are two badass knives similar enough to warrant a showdown. Both of them are super high quality blades but differ in a few key areas. The ESEE-5 is an absolute beast of a blade – thick and strong. The ESEE-6 is thinner and lighter making it a solid choice for ultralight survivalists concerned about weight. So, which one is right for you? Let’s crack into it.

The ESEE 5

esse-5-blade

The ESEE-5 is a true brute of a blade. The entire knife weighs a whole pound. This is largely due to the ESEE-5’s 0.25 inch blade. That’s a thickness you don’t see very often. The knife was designed as a straight up survival knife for downed pilots. The idea being if a pilot ever got shot down he would have a knife he could go full Rambo mode with. I have no problems using this blade to chop, slice, dig, pry and a host of other survival tasks you’d need a knife for. This is not a carvers knife or a cute little pocket knife to whip out when you’re unboxing Christmas presents. This is a knife to handle the seriousness of life in the bush.

Because of its nature as a survival knife the ESEE-5 does many things well. It batons wood like an animal. The heavy blade with a sharp carbon steel edge slice through wood like a hot knife through butter. I like this knife. However, my only gripe is with the weight and size of this blade. It is indeed a heavy knife and difficult to handle without large hands. My hands are medium size and getting a good grip is sometimes difficult. It’s not a knife I always carry into the bush. However, there have been many times when I’ve wished I had it on me when other knives just weren’t cutting it.

Pros

  • Absolutely bombproof
  • Well rounded survival blade
  • Glass breaker pommel (you don’t usually see this on knives)
  • Thick blade allows for prying (increased versatility)
  • Sharp edge despite thickness
  • High quality sheath

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Difficult to handle with small hands
  • Not suitable for fine carving or skinning

The ESEE 6

esee-6-review

The ESEE 6 is everything I love about the ESEE 5 but slightly better. For one, the ESEE-6 is much lighter and offers a longer blade. The lightness and length of the ESEE-6 make it much more agile in the bush. I can pick it up and not have to fiddle around with my grip on the handle. Both the blades on the ESEE 5 and 6 are made from 1095 carbon steel but they differ in grinds. The ESEE-5 features a sabre grind while the ESEE-6 features a flat grind. The differences between these two grinds is worthy of post in itself but here’s the short of it – a flat grind is more durable than a sabre grind but a sabre grind is more suited to carving and skinning.

Going back to the ESEE-5 being a survival knife, you can see why it features a grind that promotes strength over all else.

Pros

  • Longer Blade
  • Easy to handle
  • Lighter
  • Flat grind makes skinning and carving easier

Cons

  • Not as bombproof as the ESEE 5

ESEE 5 vs ESEE 6 Specifications

 ESEE-5ESEE-6
Blade typeFixedFixed
Blade length5,25 inches6.5 inches
Total length10.88 inches11.75 inches
Blade thickness0.250.188 inches
Blade material1095 / sabre grind1095 / flat grind
Weight16 oz12 oz
TangFullFull
Handle MaterialMicartaMicarta

Final thoughts

So who wins in this showdown? There isn’t a winner because it comes down to your own personal requirements. I would say go with the ESEE-5 if you need a bombproof knife that’s never going to break on you. If you’re the type of guy that goes balls to the wall with everything, this is your knife. You can still get the blade sharp as hell with a little work and it’s an absolute beast of a knife. The glass breaker pommel is a nice feature I really like – even though it’s unlikely you would ever need to use it. I could see it being used as an excellent self defense weapon as well.

Get the ESEE-6 if you prefer a more agile knife that’s going to have an easier time with carving and skinning. The 6 is still one hell of a knife. The longer blade makes the entire knife much more usable. It feels better in my hands than the 5. Really balanced in comparison to the 5. For that reason alone I recommend the 6 over the 5.

What do you think about these two knives? Drop a comment below before you leave.

What is The Best SHTF Backpack?

best-shtf-backpack

Have you been thinking about putting together an SHTF backpack? It’s a good idea – and not just because we’re on the brink of total atomic warfare. There are many situations that require you to bug out of your location. Think floods, power outages, fires, etc. These are all very common. Having an SHTF backpack with all the gear you need to survive is crucial.

A B.O.B worth buying

Your B.O.B (bug out bag) must fulfill 2 primary requirements:

  • It must hold all of your gear
  • It must NOT fall to pieces the moment it’s exposed to a real life SHTF situation

There are plenty of options available to you. Molle packs feature military grade durability and tons of storage space. These are great packs and will last you forever. Military grade packs have been battle tested to withstand even the harshest environments.

You might also be considering a standard backpackers backpack. These are lightweight packs and have a lot of versatility options. Weight is an important consideration. You don’t want to buckle under the crushing weight of an SHTF backpack that’s too heavy. The backpack itself weighs a considerable amount so choose wisely.

Whatever you choose make sure it can hold 72 hours worth of food, water, and supplies.

Required Reading – Building the ultimate bug out bag

The 5.11 Rush 72

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

 

The 5.11 Rush 72 is a best of both worlds bag. It has all the durability of a military pack while including the versatility of a backpackers pack. It’s a very roomy and well designed pack for lots of different uses. You can even use it for your day to day adventures. It looks civilian enough not to draw attention in public. The thing about military packs is you look like you’re up to something. You look like you might have important gear.

This could potentially make you a target for violent crimes. In an SHTF situation, everything is up for grabs and there are no rules. Men with violent tendencies in normal society will go completely ape shit. I prefer to blend in. The 5.11 Rush is the perfect bag to go full incognito mode.

72 hour SHTF backpack – The bag is designed to carry 72 hours worth of gear. You won’t have any problems stuffing 3 days worth of supplies into this thing. There are generous pockets all over the pack for gear storage.

Built tough – When I say built tough I mean tough. The whole pack is made of bombproof 1050D nylon and coated with a waterproof treatment. The zippers are thick and the stitching is borderline overkill. You could throw this thing into a wood chipper and it would come out unscathed (okay, don’t try this.) But you get my point. This bag will outlast you. Pass it on to future generations if you’d like.

It also has a ton of Molle webbing. You can easily attach external Molle compatible storage pouches to the outside. This extends the functionality of the pack. Molle is great stuff for increasing the versatility of an SHTF backpack.

Comfort – Military packs are often ridiculously uncomfortable. They weren’t built for comfort in mind. I guess comfort was a low priority during the war. The shoulder straps are almost paper thin and cut deep into your traps while you hike. The 5.11 Rush 72 is super comfortable and generously padded in all the places where it matters – shoulder straps and back plates. Dense foam makes hiking long distances much more bearable.

Pack mule status – You could overload this thing to the max. External loops make it easy to lash gear to the outside. The pack is durable enough to handle a monstrous load. There’s even loops on the bottom to attach bulky stuff like your tent or your tarp.

Final thoughts

Overall the 5.11 Rush 72 is one of the best bug out bags out there. Really, if you want the best this is the best shtf backpack to get. However, any bag will do as long as it’s made well and can carry all of your gear. Once you have your pack you can get started getting stocked up on all the essential gear. Don’t get caught unprepared!

 

 

Drinking Urine For Survival?

drinking-urine-for-survival

Bear Grylls in his Man vs wild show is notorious for getting naked and drinking his own urine. It would seem as if drinking urine for survival is a reasonable solution if you’re in a desperate survival situation – but is this the case? Let’s examine whether or not it’s actually safe to drink your own urine.

bear-grylls-drink-urine

Is drinking urine safe?

Drinking your own urine appears to have benefits in the short term but may lead to critical problems in the long term. Let’s start with a few basic facts. 95% of your urine is water. This is a good thing as far as hydrating goes. But, 3% contains harmful waste products. These waste products can ultimately lead to kidney failure if you keep recycling them through your body. Each time you urinate and recycle the urine back into your body the concentration of harmful byproducts increases.

The thing is, your body is designed to take in nutrients and eliminate waste. When you pee, this is your bodies way of eliminating the wasteful byproducts of the nutrients you consume through food and drink.

2% of your urine is salt. Salt is well known to worsen the effects of dehydration and rapidly speeds up the process. While the body needs a small amount of salt to keep a proper electrolyte balance, too much will cause the body to eliminate the excess and increase your thirst. Ever wonder why they salt the living hell out of everything at baseball games? More salt equals more thirst. More thirst means more money for the stadium as you rush back and forth from the vending stands!

Urophagia

Urophagia is the consumption of urine. Ancient cultures drank urine because they believed the liquid contained powerful healing properties. Even in modern times people drink urine for its supposed health and cosmetic applications.

The drinking of urine was popularized by a 20th century naturopath named John Armstrong. Armstrong was raised in a family where urine consumption was used to treat toothaches and other ailments. He then went on to treat thousands of his patients with urine therapy.

What does science say about drinking urine?

I’d rather hear from a scientist than some whack job when it comes to health matters. Unfortunately there hasn’t been any extensive studies done on the matter (not surprising.) I guess drinking urine isn’t that high on the totem pole of scientific research.

The closest thing to a definitive answer on the matter is from the U.S. Army Field Manual. There’s a survival section where they do NOT recommend the consumption of urine.

Purifying urine with a solar still

Here is a way to make your urine drinkable. If you can find a plastic sheet you can create a solar still. Dig a hole and urinate directly in it. Place a water catcher in the center and then cover the hole with your plastic sheet. Put a rock in the center. The rays from the sun will evaporate your urine and the water vapors will collect on the sheet and drip into the water catcher.

This will be pure H20 minus the salt and impurities. Another and more reliable method of water procurement is using green vegetation in your solar still. The heat produced from the plants will condense and collect on your sheet.

In fact, even without vegetation or urine you can extract water from the soil with this method. Even the driest soil has moisture that can be extracted for drinking purposes.

The final verdict

Consume urine at your own risk. There isn’t enough data to make an informed decision ether way. In a life or death situation drinking urine is safe for a short period of time. It might hold you over long enough for you to get to safety or find a clean water source. I definetely would not rely on urine as a primary source of water!

Let me know what you think about drinking urine in the comments below.

 

 

 

7 Books About Real Life Survival Stories

real-life-survival-stories

Are you craving something real? In a world shotgun blasted with the artificial it’s refreshing to encounter real stories. Real life survival stories tap into the core of who we are as humans. The core need to stay alive. It doesn’t get any realer than survival. When you can smell your own death you know it’s the real McCoy. Satisfy your thirst for the real with 7 books based on true survival events.

1.) Mans Search for Meaning

mans-search-for-meaning

Imagine yourself nothing but skin and bones. Weak and frail inside of a Nazi concentration camp. Sadistic Nazis make your life a living hell and push you to the brink of death. There is nothing but your personal will to survive to see you through. Viktor Frankl survived four separate concentration camps, including the infamous Auschwitz, and lived to tell the tale. This harrowing story is an account of Viktors unique philosophy and mental resolve in the face of certain death. Despite his haunting circumstance, Viktor was able to transform his grim situation into one of spiritual growth and enlightenment. I’m not talking about that “woo-woo” new age type crap either. Read this book if you want a serious dose of personal growth.

2.) Unbroken

unbroken

Where? Over the pacific. When? WWII. American Lieutenant Louis Zamperini was a rebellious youth turned WWII Bombadier in this tale of ultimate survival. The situation goes from bad to worse when his bomber gets shot down over the pacific. Emerging as a lone survivor Louis clings to a scrap of lifecraft  where he drifts aimlessly for a month before landing ashore and getting captured by the Japanese. The account of his time spent in a Japanese POW camp will send shivers up your spine and jar you wide awake in the middle of the night. A truly epic tale of endurance.

3.) Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea

Adrift

Is there anything to drive a man madder than being lost at sea? Nothing for as far as the eye can see. No hope and completely exposed to the elements. Steven Callahan was lost at sea for an entire 76 days – the longest known stretch of time we know of. It’s a story of how the mind can fold in on itself and go completely mad. It’s also a story of how paranoia can fuel some truly ingenious survival strategies. I realized I have nothing to complain about after reading this book.

4.)  Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

touching-the-void

The story of 2 best friends climbing the Andes mountains. The situation goes south real quick when one of them falls off a sheer cliff face and breaks their leg. Thinking his friend fell to his death, Simon Yates heads back to base camp stricken with grief. Except, his friend wasn’t dead. He was trapped in a deep crevice with a broken leg and an incredible will to survive. Does he make it back to base camp? This is a great read especially for climbers who understand the technical lingo used by the men throughout the book.

5.) Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival

skeletons-on-the-zahara

The incredible story that captivated the minds of great men like Henry David Thorough and Abraham Lincoln. A story of terrible luck so profound you have to laugh yourself into madness to cope with the situation. The story centers around Captain Riley and his 11 man crew whos ship falls off course en route to deliver merchant goods. They shipwreck in a rather unfortunate part of the African coast chocked full of savage natives. Their story is one of slavery, torture, starvation, dehydration, and just about everything in between. The book is packed with hard science and history to give context to the time this all went down. A real page turner with so many twists and strange events you’d think you were reading a fiction novel.

6.) Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

lone-survivor

June 2005. 4 Navy Seals leave their base camp to capture a notorious Al-Qaeda shot caller. The problem is he’s heavily armed and surrounded by a personal army of trained killers. Blow for Blow, this book takes you through a shell shocking story of a mission gone sour when all but one Navy Seal is killed during the OP. It’s a fight to the death as the last sole survivor makes a daring escape with 6 Al-Qaeda assassins right on his tail.

7.) We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

we-die-alone

A testament to the human spirit,  We Die Alone is the epic story of a Norwegian mans escape from the Nazi’s during WWII. Incredible research and superb storytelling.

Conclusion

That ought to keep you busy for a little while. While you may never find yourself in a survival situation, many of these stories show you that you can make it through tough times. They show you the strength and resilience of the human spirit is a true gift that can’t be taken from you. If anything, they might make you realize just how easy you have it. A little appreciation goes along way in creating a life of peace, meaning, and gratitude.

 

 

 

 

ESEE 6 Knife Review

esee-6-review

ESEE can’t help but pump out quality blade after quality blade. The ESEE 6 is another premium blade I absolutely love to take into the bush. You might have read my review on the ESEE-5. It’s very much on the weighty side and almost too big to be comfortable. The ESSE-6 is everything I love about the ESEE-5 but in a lighter profile. I can get a handle on the ESSE-6 without feeling like I’m wielding a small hatchet. The ESEE-6  is finding its way onto my belt with increased frequency these days.

Specifications

Blade TypeFixed
Blade Length6.5 inches
Total Length11.75 inches
Blade Thickness0.188 inches
Blade Material1095 steel / Flat grind
Weight20 oz
TangFull
Sheath IncludedYes

The blade

esee-6-blade
1095 carbon steel blade with a flat grind and drop point.

The handle

esee-6-handle
Grey Micarta handle with scales and lanyard

 

The sheath

ESEE-6-sheath
Black molded polymer sheath. Not as impressive as the ESEE-5 sheath but it will do.

 

First impressions

I picked up the blade and immediately could feel the agility. I could tell chopping was going to be an absolute breeze. The thinner blade compared to ESSE’s previous model was a welcome change. I found I left the 5 at home more often because of the weight. It’s a shame because it’s a super high quality blade but too damn difficult to maneuver (for me.) The ESSE 6 has a longer and thinner blade and I was excited to get out into the bush to give it a proper test.

As you know with all my knife reviews I like to take the blade out into the bush and test the upper limits. This usually involves me exhausting myself in a few rounds of heavy batoning. I also test the blades ability to carve and make feathersticks.

Making feathersticks – Making feathersticks was an absolute piece of cake. I barely needed to exert any pressure for the blade to dig in to the wood and create a bundle of super fine feathers. The blade thickness is a perfect. Even on really hard wood the ESEE-6 continued to prove its functionality. With a longer blade it will be difficult to carve anything really fine, but making feathersticks won’t be a problem. I don’t do a lot of real carving in the bush so the ESEE-6 works well for my purposes.

esee-6-feathersticks

Batoning wood – The long blade makes batoning wood a dream job. The knife slices right through even the toughest knots:

esee-6-batoning
Slicing straight through with the ESSE 6

 

Final thoughts

The ESSE-6 is a blade worthy of your belt in the bush. It’s on the pricey side but with ESEE knives you get what you pay for.  The ESSE-6 is hands down one of the best survival knives out there. You also get the benefits of ESEE’s signature no questions asked repair and return policy. They do a great job making making customer support a top priority when you purchase their knives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Survival Gear To Rambo Your Way Out of Any Situation

essential-survival-gear

Aliens have abducted you to study the crafty ways of the human species. They tell you they’re going to drop you in the wilderness – 100 miles from the nearest city. But they aren’t complete assholes. They allow you to choose 10 survival items to take with you on your journey. What do you choose and why?

This is what I would choose:

Stainless steel water bottle – 100 miles from civilization? You’re going to need something to carry water. Stainless steel offers a number of advantages over plastic – the ability to boil water being the most significant advantage. The stainless steel is durable and won’t bust on you half way through the mission.

Water purification tablets – Boiling water to drink takes forever. Water purification tablets are a much quicker way to secure any water you find along the way. Water from creeks, rivers and ponds are great sources of water but may contain harmful pathogens. The water isn’t going to taste great but that’s okay – survival is not a 5 star restaurant experience. You can leave a bad yelp review when you get back to town.

Fixed blade knife – Even those outside of the tin foiled sphere of the prepping/survival community know the importance of a good knife. You might not know that fixed blade is the only way to go. Fixed blade knives are stronger than the folding types and extremely resilient. The knife is the most important piece of survival gear so don’t get the wrong one.

Paracord – Highly versatile. Use the paracord for rigging shelters, making fishing line, bear bagging your food, and a ton of other survival tasks. Another crucial piece of survival gear.

Tarp – Use the tarp in combination with your paracord to fashion a 5 star shelter for the night. Why not ask for a tent you say? A tent is heavy and going to slow you down. This is survival, not a backyard camping excursion with smores.

Ferrocerium rod – a ferrocerium rod is a reliable method to generate lots of sparks. Lighters and matches can get wet. Steel rods do not and will always throw sparks. Use the back of your knife as a striker.

Lighters – Let’s be honest. Starting a fire with a ferrocerium rod looks cool but it’s far from easy. Carry a pack of lighters in a ziploc bag to make your life easier. The key here is redundancy. Always have backups of your most important survival gear.

Light medical kit – The wild is a completely different environment than the cushy air conditioned place you’re reading this from. It’s chock full of danger around every corner. Nature in the raw has not been softened to fit the delicate requirements of man. You’re gonna get cut, bruised, and bitten. Prepare for these realities with a proper med kit. Antiseptic liquid, compression wraps and guazes at the bare minimum.

Hunting rifle – The aliens said anything didn’t they? You’d be stupid not to ask for some kind of rifle to hunt with. What, you think you’re going to build your own bow and arrow and take out medium sized game? Not without mucho practice mi amigo. At least with a hunting rifle it’s more or less point and shoot. Oh yeah, don’t forget the ammo.

Extra socks – Ever heard of trench foot? It’s the last thing you want if your main mode of transportation is your chevrolegs. Protect your feet at all costs. Wool socks prevent blisters and won’t retain moisture like cotton will. Wet socks combined with friction is a recipe for gnarly blisters.

That about wraps it up. Your new alien friends will admire how resourceful you are. Don’t let the human race down. Show these aliens what 10,000 years of evolution has done to your survival faculties.

 

 

ESEE 5 Knife Review

Are you ready to go full beast mode? Do want a blade that can bust through the thickest of the thick? The ESEE 5 is the knife reserved for the bushman who’s serious about getting stuff done in the bush. I’m talking about falling branches with only a few strokes. I’m talking about a knife capable of prying the door off a TANK.  The ESEE 5 is an absolute BRUTE of a knife.

Real talk – the ESEE-5 was designed as a downed pilots survival knife. Everything from the thick blade to the glass breaker is designed to get you out of a downed aircraft and assist your journey out from behind enemy lines. Escape and evasion is the name of the game. The ESEE-5 is not a carvers knife. It is not an everyday carry knife. It’s a full blown survival knife.

Specifications

Blade TypeFixed
Blade Length5.25 inches
Total Length10.88 inches
Blade Thickness0.25 inches
Blade Material1095 steel / Sabre grind
Weight16 oz
TangFull
Sheath IncludedYes

The blade

esse-5-blade
1095 carbon steel blade with a sabre grind and textured with a black powder coating. This type of steel is slightly prone to rust. No big deal if you keep up on the maintenance. The blade is nice and thick – quite shockingly thick actually.

The handle

esse-5-handle
Canvas Micarta with glass breaker pommel and pre-drilled bow drill.

The sheath

esse-5-sheath
The best in the business. One of the few sheaths that actually lock the blade in place. The sheath comes with a tech lock that secures and releases the blade. Very nice stuff.

First impressions

now-thats-a-knife

Seriously, when I pulled it out of the box I could tell right away the ESEE 5 wasn’t messing around. It’s weightiness communicated that I was about to do some serious damage in the woods. My first instinct was to bushwhack through the bamboo separator barricading my girlfriends kitchen from her living room – but I restrained myself. Instead, I took the knife out into the bush – the only place I can cut stuff up while looking like a complete lunatic.

Enough with the waffling. How does the ESSE-5 really stack up in the woods?

ESSE-5 performance

The ESSE-5 slices through just about anything you want. It sinks deep into wood with very little effort on your part. This is largely due to the sheer weight of the ESSE-5. Despite the thick blade I found the ESSE-5 sharpened up quite nicely – sharp enough to even create fine feather sticks. Granted, you won’t be doing any fine carving with this knife. It’s very much a Rambo type blade designed for brute force work in the bush. I noticed with little effort you can get a lot of work done in terms of processing firewood.

Making feathersticks – Can the ESEE-5 make a proper feather stick? The carbon steel blade does allow for a sharp edge – and yes, you can make feather sticks. The thing is, it’s not going to be as easy as with a Mora knife or a thinner blade – the ESEE-5 is a raw survival knife. It excels in doing a lot of things with decent competency.

esse-5-feather-sticks

Batoning wood – Can the ESEE-5 baton wood? Does Bigfoot shit in the woods? You can beat the crap out of this thing all you want and its still going to come back for more. I came down hard over the top spine with a force that would shatter a lesser blade. You couldn’t damage this blade if you wanted to. The thickness allows for easy prying. I’m too scared to pry with other blades. Not with the ESEE-5. It batons through wood like nobody’s business.

Notable considerations

  • This is a big knife.
  • Think survival or bush knife. This is not an everyday use-around-the-house knife.
  • The handle is big. I have medium sized hands and while I can swing it, it’s certainly a lot to handle.
  • You’re going to have trouble manipulating the ESEE-5 if you have smaller hands.
  • The sheath is the best sheath to ever come stock with a knife
  • The glass breaker on the pommel is awesome. One day I will test it out.

Final thoughts

I can’t say I recommend the ESEE-5 to everyone. If you spend a lot of time in the bush, have large hands, and process a lot of firewood the ESEE-5 will make a great companion. The weight and size of this knife is something to consider especially if you value lightweight gear. I mean, the knife is a whole pound. The sheath is second to none. Hands down the best sheath that has ever came with a knife. I would buy this knife just for the sheath.

Look, if you’re going into the bush to kick some ass and take some names purchase this knife right now. This is an indestructible knife and will serve your journey well.

 

 

5 Epic Survival Fires and How To Build Them

survival-fires

There are different types of survival fires. Each one has a unique set of strengths and characteristics that offer advantages in specific situations. Your choice of fire depends on the situation at hand. Do you want to go stealth mode? Do you need a fire that burns hot? Making a fire in wet weather? Yes, there’s a fire for that! In this post I crack deep into 5 survival fires you should know about.

The Tepee

Synopsis – Use the tepee fire when light and warmth are number one priority. Great for gatherings and traditional camping scenarios.

Everybody knows about the tepee fire. It’s usually the first fire you learn how to build and it’s what they teach in the scouts. It’s an easy way to get a fire going. The tepee is what’s known as a vertical fire. Vertical fires produce tall flames and draw the majority of their oxygen from the bottom bed of the fire. The tepee fire burns hot and quick.

Advantages – The tepee fire is an effective hot burning fire and will quickly warm you up. By design, it will burn hot and fast. The tepee fire produces very little smoke so it’s great for a general campfire when staying warm is the only requirement.

Disadvantages – The tepee fire burns fast. You’ll be spending a lot of time adding more wood to keep it stoked. The structure can easily collapse if not setup properly. Because of the generous supply of oxygen and heat, the tepee fire produces little coals or embers. Once it burns it is out. The design of the tepee fire does not allow for a flat surface for cooking.

How to build

Step 1. Lay down a layer of dry wood to form the base of the tepee:

tepee-fire-base

Step 2. Place your tinder bundle on the base:

tepee-fire-tinder

Step 3. Create a skeleton structure in tepee formation:

Step 4. Place the rest of your kindling against the skeleton structure:

Step 5. Light that bad boy up:

light-the-tepee-fire

Full Video

The log cabin

Synopsis – Build a log cabin fire if you need a hot bed of coals or a flat top for cooking.

Also known as the box fire, this is a method of fire making less prone to problems found in the tepee. The structure of the log cabin fire make it stable and less prone to collapsing. The flat top design allows for a flat surface to cook on. The fire burns slower and longer than the tepee.

Advantages – The flat surface makes this a great fire to cook on. It’s also a whole lot easier to maintain because of its slow burning and stable design. Many people start out with a tepee design but end up with a log cabin anyways. Why not skip straight to the point?

Disadvantages – Difficult to light with limited access to the tinder if something goes wrong. Produces less heat and more smoke.

How to build

Step 1. Create a tepee structure from dry sticks and material:

log-fire-base

Step 2. Create a log cabin structure around the tepee. Taper off into smaller pieces towards the top so they catch fire easily:

Step 3. Light your tepee. Continue to stoke the flame through the large gaps until the entire structure catches:

Full Video

The upside down fire

Synopsis – Upside down fire is a great fire for the fireplace. In a survival situation I could see it being used if you didn’t need the fire right away but wanted to get it started. It’s a light and forget method of fire making that lends itself well to efficiency and long term heat.

Snotty survivalists have long had a superior air of snootiness over knowing about this fire. They are quick to rattle off the many advantages of the upside down fire. It’s quite an unconventional approach to making fire and goes against everything you were taught. It’s literally a reversed fire – you stack the large logs at the bottom and work your way up the stack laying smaller pieces until you get to the top. At the top you have your tinder bundle.

So how the hell does this work? The same way a regular fire does except upside down. The smaller pieces of tinder at the top ignite the kindling and so on.

Advantages – Extremely low maintenance. With a regular fire you have to wait before you lay on the big logs. With the upside down fire you make your entire stack and light it once. It’s very efficient and burns for a long time before dying out. Plus, you get to look cool in front of all your friends who will inevitably want to see how the heck you’re getting to get that fire to light.

Disadvantages – Very slow to start. It takes a long time before you can do anything useful with it like cook. It’s also trickier to light and requires very dry wood to ignite properly. Not ideal if you need heat straight away.

How to build

Step 1. Start off by laying a base layer of substantial logs:

upside-down-fire-base

Step 2. Criss cross large layers of logs, tapering down to smaller pieces as you work your way up:

Step 3. Build a tepee fire or any other fire style you would normally build on the ground:

Step 4. Light your tepee fire and sit back. Stoke the flames with more firewood if necessary:

Full Video

The Dakota fire hole

Synopsis – use a Dakota fire hole if you need to stay hidden.

The Dakota fire hole is an extremely effective fire and boasts a number of advantages. Placing your fire in a hole conceals it from peeping Toms. If you’re going full on stealth mode this is the fire you want to build. The Dakota fire burns very hot because of the draft created by the air hole. Hot air gets sucked out of the hole and creates a vaccum effect by pulling outside air in. This stokes the fire to blistering temperatures and makes for a very efficient environment to cook what you need fast and stealthy.

Advantages – Stealthy, hot burning, self stoking.

Disadvantages – Can be difficult to build in areas with hard soil.

How to build

Step 1. Dig a fire hole about 1 foot deep:

dakota-fire-hole

Step 2. Dig a second hole a foot away. This one doesn’t need to be as deep as the first – about 1.5 feet will do:

Step 3. Dig a tunnel connecting the two holes:

dakota-fire-hole-tunnel

Step 4. Build your fire per usual in the fire hole:

Full Video

The long fire

Synopsis – Build a long fire for those deathly cold nights where maximum heat is required to stay alive. Long burning fire with little maintenance required.

The long fire is raw heat generator. I’m talking hellish levels of heat through even the bitterest night. The ultimate fire for maximum heat and warmth. Creates a massive heat radius and gigantic bed of coals. It’s the type of fire you can feel from miles away.

Advantages – burns extremely hot and leaves a massive bed of coals. Epic survival fire to stay warm through the night.

Disadvantages – Overkill for cooking or anything else that requires you to be close to the fire.

How to build

Step 1. Start by laying 2 “long” logs in parallel over a set of shorter stumpy pieces. This will elevate your fire from the ground and create pockets of air:

long-fire-base

Step 2. Pack the space in between the logs with dry sticks and kindling:

Step 3. Light the fire and lay larger pieces of deadfall diagonally over the logs:

Full Video

Closing statements

That should keep you busy for a while. Master all of these fires and you will become a formidable force of nature in any survival situation.

Did I miss anything? Yell at me in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Fallkniven F1 Knife Review

fallkniven-F1-review

I’m excited to talk about one of my favorite knives today – The Fallkniven F1. I first heard about this in passing while browsing a survivalist forum. Over time there seemed to be more chatter going on and on about this knife until I had to check it out for myself. I was not let down. The Fallkniven F1 is a sturdy as hell blade and a true work horse. It’s the blade issued to the Swedish Army – and if you don’t think Sweden knows a thing or two about blades think again. Sweden is the same country who brought us the infamous Mora knives. Following this same trend of excellence, the Fallkniven F1 is more than capable of going into the bush and tackling whatever you throw at it.

Specifications

Blade TypeFixed
Blade Length3.8 inches
Total Length8.3 inches
Blade Thickness4.5 mm
Blade MaterialVg-10 Stainless Steel
Weight6 oz
TangFull
Sheath IncludedYes - Zytel plastic or leather

First impressions

The blade feels comfortable and agile in hand. My hands are medium sized and the Fallkniven F1 feels like it was injection molded to fit my mitts. I’m not the only who thinks that either – many survivalists have had the same experience with this blade. Did those Swedes cast some magical elven spell during the molding process? I don’t know, but I like it.

The blade

fallkniven-F1-blade

The blade itself was forged with VG-10 stainless steel. Stainless steel is well known for being absolutely bomproof. While you typically can’t put an edge on a stainless steel blade like you can on a carbon steel blade, I found the Fallkniven F1 sharpened up quite nicely – sharp enough to take the hairs straight off my forearm. The blade features a convex grind so the technique to put an edge on it is slightly different than, lets say, a scandinavian grind blade such as the Moraknive Bushcraft Black (another fine knife from our fellow Swedish brethrens.)

I’m going to get into why I love the convex grind in a minute.

The handle

Fallkniven-F1-Handle-With-Lanyard
Fallkniven F1 handle with lanyard

The handle fits my hand like a glove. I think there is something truly magical about tool and hand. You can feel when something is right. I get a good feeling when I pick up this blade. I get the feeling that whatever the bush throws at me I will be prepared. The thing I hate about most knives is how “fancy” they make the handles. I don’t need a special spot for each finger or weird curves that promise to deliver a perfect fit. Give me something basic. Give me something I can grab without thinking twice. The Fallkniven F1 delivers.

The handle material is known as thermorun – a hardened rubber/plastic combo with checkered imprints. It’s super grippy even with sweaty palms. Really, you got to feel how well this knife fits in your hand.

The sheath

You have a choice between two sheaths when purchasing the Fallkniven F1. The first sheath is leather. Very hard leather with a belt loop and a snap flap. It’s the one I ordered and it does the job:

fallkniven-F1-Leather-Sheath

Your second option is the Zytel sheath. From what I can tell it’s a hardened plastic with nylon strap ins. Looks good. Looks modern. The Zytel sheath has a thinner profile than the leather sheath. I prefer leather but your style might lend itself to something more modern and slim.

fallkniven-F1-Zytel-Sheath
The fallkniven F1 next to the Zytel sheath

The fallkniven F1 in action

I take every blade I review out into the bush for a proper pounding. Here’s how it stacked up:

Feathersticks – as you can see it makes feather sticks perfectly:

Fallkniven-F1-Featherstick
Making a feather stick with the Fallkniven F1

I will say though, it’s more difficult with this blade because of the convex grind. It’s definitely sharp enough but the slight convex makes it easy for the blade to slip off its edge. It takes a different technique but you get used to it.

Batoning – This blade batoned through wood like a hot knife through butter. This is where the convex grind comes into full advantage. Because of the slight curvature you are actually splitting the wood as opposed to slicing it. This makes it extremely effective for batoning firewood. The blade is thicker than most. I batoned down over the top of this thing like a raving beast and it took the punishment. Believe me, I smacked the crap out of this blade and it held up perfectly.

Fallkniven-F1-Batoning
Batoning wood

Another advantage to this blade is the tang runs the full length of the handle.

You could theoretically hammer it into something if you needed to. While this isn’t the best use of a knife, in a survival situation you never what you’re going to need to do. I call this a bonus.

Final thoughts

I give the Fallkniven F1 the DSK seal of approval. It’s a worthy companion for your belt if you’re going out into the bush – or whatever you want to use it for. It’s sturdy, takes an edge, and doesn’t mess around when it comes to using it for real world work. 9 stars out of 10.