Quiet weekend stuff

It’s always interesting to watch the pricing on bargains suddenly go wonky. Last week I posted about the LifeStraws being $15.99 and quite a few people (myself included) jumped in there and picked up a few. Or, in some cases, more than a few.


Why would I mention a bargain on a cool piece of gear and NOT get a bunch for myself?

Sadly, I just checked the link and they’re back up to twenty bucks each. Bummer. Gotta strike while the iron is hot.

Same story on the OD hooded space blankets. They were $10.01 for a brief time and now they’re back up to $20. Hopefully, everyone who wanted one managed to get in there and snag a couple at the $10 price.

And speaking of things to put away for that rainy day, I decided that $2.15 was as good as its gonna get, and with us being slightly ahead on the gas budget this month, so I went ahead and have the extra fuel cans filled. Those are the lovely ‘Euro/NATO-style’ cans that I got from Lexington Container a couple years back. Don’t be tempted to buy the ones you see in Sportsmans Guide and a few other places…those are the cheapo Chinese cans and they are worthless. Yes, these cans are going to be expensive at around $50 ea (plus shipping) but when it’s 2am, pouring rain, and you’re on the side of the road hoping to outrun whatever it is that’s got you running, you’ll think that fifty bucks is a bargain to have five-gallons of fuel perfectly preserved and ready to go.

20150328_184015And, of course, each one of those cans represents x amount of hours of electricity courtesy of the generator. And electricity means hot water, hot food, lighting, communications, furnace blowers, etc….in short, those cans hold civilization. (Which  sorta explains those Mad Max movies)

So, a somewhat productive last couple of days…picked up some extra water filters, filled some gas cans, did some grocery shopping. The weather has gotten nicer here so I expect I’ll be doing some spring cleaning and organizing shortly.

Lifestraws on Amazon for $16

Hmmm…I was trolling around Amazon looking at my Wish List and noticed that the Lifestraws, which are usually a good deal when on sale at $20 ea, are down to $15.99 each.A quick search shows that even when you buy them in packages of 10 you’re still looking at around $17-18 each. This is pretty much the cheapest I’ve ever seen ‘em at.20150322_180734I’ve been liking these for keeping in emergency bags, in the truck bag, etc, etc. Individually sealed and cheap enough to buy a half dozen at a time. They’re rated for around 264 gallons of water, which, at three gallons per day, means that you could, theoretically, use it for almost 90 days. I’ll settle for a long weekend. At that price I’ll just throw it away after one crisis and have a new, sealed one for the next. And when you’re in the grips of water-borne digestive distress you’re gonna think “Man, it’d be worth sixteen bucks to not  have to spend all day sprinting to the bathroom.”

While supplies last……

Those OD space blankets are back at $10.01

You guys remember this post?

Quite a few people managed to snag some of the OD space blankets at the $10.01 price before weird pricing algorithms started jerking the price up. Well, it appears theyre back at the older $10.01 price…for now. So if you missed out last time, here’s another chance. The price in the link below says, at the moment, $18 but click on the link and follow it to Amazon and the OD version is $10.01…for now. From the original post:

The hooded, pocketed, olive-drab, “blanket” has been rather heavily discounted at Amazon. Knocked down from $18 to $10. Get ‘em while they’re cheap. Excellent for use as intended, but also good for expedient waterproof overhead cover, dry spot to sit your ass, etc, etc. Far superior than those stupid, flimsy mylar foil sheets. Heres the link:

Hooded OD Space Blankets reduced to $10.01

Two posts I want to remind you about: Heavily Armed nature Hike and more importantly, this followup.

The hooded, pocketed, olive-drab, “blanket” has been rather heavily discounted at Amazon. Knocked down from $18 to $10. Get ‘em while they’re cheap. Excellent for use as intended, but also good for expedient waterproof overhead cover, dry spot to sit your ass, etc, etc. Far superior than those stupid, flimsy mylar foil sheets. Heres the link:

The fact that all the other colors are still around $19 and the Olive is reduced to $10 makes me think they’re closing ‘em out and discontinuing ‘em. Feel free to send me a couple off my wish list. (Although, really, even if you don’t wanna throw one my way you should still get a few for yourself…useful, cheap, and well-made….a trifecta you don’t hit very often.)

ETA: Hmmm. Someone musta cleaned ‘em out because they arent showing up anymore at that price or in single-serving quantity. Further examination shows the blue ones are available at an equally good price. (Grabber Outdoors Original Space Brand All Weather Blanket: Blue)

Trying the new Gen III ECWS

Bloody cold today. Actually, it’s not that cold…it’s simply what its pretty much supposed to be in Montana around this time of year. Currently? +3, although I expect below zero as the night progresses.

Since it was so cold during the day today, I figured I’d try out a new piece of cold weather gear. See, usually I wear my heavy Carhart coat in this sort of weather. It does a decent job, and its tough as nails, but it’s pretty bulky. I picked up a Gen III ECWS parka a few months back and this has been my first chance to try it out and I’m very pleased with it. Like most cold weather gear, it helps if you dress properly underneath it – you cant just put it on over a t-shirt and expect to be toasty.

gen3_level7_400x408One nice thing, right off the bat, is the compressability….the Carhart coat cant be stuffed down into a small(er) package the way this thing can. I was out this evening walking Nuke and I was wearing the parka over a longsleeve ‘waffle’ pullover and a ECWCS undershirt (which I recommend highly for its warmth and low bulk. Buy ‘em cheap by the dozen on eBay) and was warm and comfy. I suspect I’ll troll eBay and pick up two or three extras for myself and one or two for the missus.

Not all military surplus lives up to the hype, but I have to say that thus far I’ve been pretty pleased with it. If you’re hunting for something warm but not overbearingly heavy/bulky you might wanna check these things out.

Whaddya want for the holiday gifting?

When I originally started blogging, the purpose was to chronicle the progression of steps towards getting to the level of preparedness I wanted to achieve. So that was around 11 years ago. You’d think that after 11 years there wouldn’t be much left to do…but, of course, there’s always something.

Pretty much all that is left to acquire are the truly big-ticket items – a dedicated vehicle and a place out in the sticks. Both of these are pretty much the final jewels in the crown. Food? We’re good. Guns and ammo? Just ducky. Toiletries, bedding, fuel, generator, tools, security system, etc…yup.

There are still some things that I still haven’t gotten around to, despite years of saying “I need to…” The two that immediately spring to mind are radio communications and a PV-powered battery backup system for same.

Like anything else, the limiting factor is money. Ten years is obviously plenty of time to put some money back for expensive stuff but, sadly, I have a tremendous lack of discipline. Its hard to ‘stay the course’ for a long period of time when people walk in the door or call me and say “Hey, a guy just sold me a couple 1911s…you wanna look at ‘em?”

Out of curiosity, what are you hoping to receive for Chrismahanakwanzakah this year? The ‘realistically priced’ gift and the ‘money is no object’ gift.

That long, quiet nap that guns take…………

There was a time in my life when I had very few guns to my name. I can recall some money-tight college days where my personal collection was whittled down to three or four guns. Nowadays, its a different story. I’m not going to say how many because telling folks how many guns you own is a lot like bragging about the size of your johnson – unless youre ready to show it off to disbelievers, shut up.

Anyway, I’ve hit the point where I’m getting too much gun clutter around the house. Quite a few of these guns are ‘just in case’ guns. Tertiary-(or more)-level copies of things I already have. As such, there is the very high likelihood that once they get an initial once-over and range trip to verify function they will probably not be handled again for many years. So, really, it’s time to put some of these things away in deep storage.

My usual choice fo packing away things long term are Hardigg and Pelican cases. For handguns, I rather like the Pelican 1170 case for holding a handgun and a couple magazines. Theyre about $40 and worth every penny. But if you’re going to salt away a large quantity of handguns, it can add up in a hurry. As I was diddybopping around the internet, I found this..pre-cut foam inserts that turn a .30 or .50 caliber ammo can into a gun case. Since ammo cans are still pretty reasonable, this shaves the cost down and they stack nicely.

Here’s a couple of reviews elsewhere..here and here.

For my intended purpose, which is sealing up a pistol, some mags, and maybe a little ammo, sticking it on a shelf in my basement and forgetting about it for a decade….this should be perfect. For those of us who may need to sock away a pistol for some long term planning, these may be a good choice.



Update on space blanket from earlier post

So, a couple posts back i was commenting that while I liked the space blanket I was critical of its lack of certain features. Well, I guess I need to look harder next time because the company that makes it also makes a version more conducive to what i was doing the other day. A hooded version with pockets for your hands to help keep it wrapped around you. And, naturally, conveniently available offa Amazon. (Space Brand Sportsman’s Hooded Blanket/Poncho: Olive, Box)

Guess I’ll take the ones I already have and bump them down to secondary/backup status and replace them with this handoer version. (“Handier”…see what I did there?)

I should also point out that 9 times out of ten, when Im out in the sticks the one thing I use these sorts of tings for more than anything else is….to keep my but dry when I sit on a log or on the ground. I usually just take the folded product out, unfold it enough to be about the size of a phone book, and park it under my butt so I I can sit on wet/snowy ground. Hey, multi-taskers for the win!

Heavily armed nature hike

Went hunting yesterday, although  it might be more accurate to describe it as a heavily-armed nature hike, As the day went on, some weather moved in and it became prime hypothermia country – lowering temperatures (45~ degrees), freezing drizzle, and gusty winds. The classic scenario for hypothermia. I’d been wandering up and down the hills so I was pretty warm but I decided to find a comfortable spot under some cover and have some lunch and just wait a while and see if something walked by. Problem is, once you come to a stop you start to cool down.

When I was getting ready to leave that morning I was debating on what to wear. I didnt want to wear too much and overheat, or have to carry discarded clothing….but I didnt want to underdress and be cold and miserbale. I went with the ECWS undershirt with a Woolrich wool shirt over it. (And although they are expensive, and they require a certain degree of specialized care, everyone should have a couple quality wool shirts) I was wearing an orange hunting vest over that, so that was pretty warm. I was originally gonna wear the synthetic gloves but went with the wool mittens since I figured if they got wet theyd stay warmer. As it turned out, that was the good call.

So I found a comfy spot under some low branches and set up to have lunch.

IMG_1904[2]It’s hard to tell in the image, but it was a steady drizzle. Fortunately, it was time for lunch.


Lunch was some Mountain House spaghetti which has either gotten spicier since I last had some, or my growing old has made me more sensitive to such things. Still, just about anything eaten out in the sticks tastes good. The Esbit stove worked well and got 12 oz. of water to boiling in a few minutes with time to spare. The Mountain House is in their Pro-Pack packaging. This differs from their normal packaging in that they vacuum seal it to reduce the overall size of the package…this makes it a bit smaller to pack into a bag. Other stuff: titanium spork and Snow Peak Hybrid Summit Cookset. The cup normally has a silicone lid with it and a silicone bottom cover to protect the hand from heat. Since I normally stuff a Nalgene bottle into the cup, that leaves no place for the lid. But, the bottom cover fits over the top to act as a lid, so I use that.

So I had lunch and sat around in growing cold waiting for Bambi to show up. No luck. So, I figured the day was pretty much a bust so lets take advantage of the crappy weather to test some gear.

I used to pack the classic mylar ‘survival blanket’ in my gear. You guys have seen them, right? They’re about the size of a pack of playing cards and gossamer thin. In fact, theyre packaged too well for such a thin material…try opening one up sometime with frozen fingers. Imagine taking a stack of Kleenex out of the box and soaking it in water…now try to peel away one tissue at a time….thats what its like. I went old-school to one of the older style ‘blankets’..specifically the older space blanket. It is a bit more bulky (you can see it folded up on the ground in the second picture, next to the binoculars on the ground) but it is a much more durable material. I figured I’d wrap myself up in this one and see how it fared against the wind and rain.


It actually worked quite well. You have to understand, the material has virtually no insulative value. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around your finger and then lay it atop an ice cube. Finger gets cold, right? The value of the material is in its windproofness and its reflective properties. Or, put another way, if you wrapped your finger in a piece of insulative material (a wool glove, for example) and then wrapped your finger in foil, you wouldnt feel the cold from that ice cube. So, in this case, draping the space blanket around myself, and drawing it closed around me created a nice pocket of warm air and the warm package of food held in my lap certainly heated things up nicely. (In fact, this sort of arrangement with a small tealight-style candle [or candle lantern] generates plenty of heat in that enclosed space. The space blanket did a very good job of keeping me warm and keeping the wind and wet at bay. Drawback: It would be nice if there were a velcro closure system..I had to grasp the edges of the blanket and hold it around me to keep the wind from pulling it open. In a real pinch, though, I could just use the medical tape out of my first aid kit. If you had some compact insulative layer like a Woobie or poncho liner with you, you’d be in awesome shape. The tradeoff, of course, is just how much crap youre willing to carry around.

So I sat around for a couple hours in the weather waiting for Bambi to show up and was pretty comfortable all things considered.

So there you go – minor field testing of some gear under the guise of a hunting trip. The next day, by the way, we had a blizzard-like weather system move through. Temperature dropped 30 degrees, powerful gusty winds, and a good deal of snow and sleet. So, good timing.