LPG adapter for backpacking stoves

You know ’em, you love ’em, you want ’em – 10/22 mags!
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I’ve been watching the news from Puerto Rico (PR) with some interest. PR is fascinating because, since it is an island, you can’t just have the Tenessee National Guard roll in with a convoy of MRE’s and fuel tankers. PR is, in many ways, cut off from easily-transportable aid. While places like San Juan get all the press, much of the island (especially the interior) is quite..uhm…Third World-ish…in many ways. Those regions will likely be the last to get the power back on.

Anyway, without electricity and regular propane deliveries your options for cooking start to get pretty thin. Burning some trees is reliable, but not terribly convenient. Maybe you have gasoline, but that would be more useful for the vehicle and generators, kerosene maybe?

If you drew a Venn diagram of ‘gear optimized for backpacking’ and ‘gear of great use to survivalists’, the common crossover point would have this little geegaw.

Years ago I got a Primus Omnifuel stove. This little jewel will burn virtually any flammable liquid you have (gasoline, white gas, jet fuel, kerosene, diesel, white gas) as well as the butane cartridges that are so convenient. But the survivalist in me cried “more!”.

Turns out, there’s an adapter to allow you to hook up the ubiquitous one-pound propane bottles so they can be used with your backpacking stove. Let’s order one up!

Seems like pretty sturdy construction. I’ll probably order another one or two as spares. So, first things first – change the jet orifice in the stove from the one used for kerosene to the one used for butane/propane. That took all of a minute using the supplied tool that came with the stove. Next, I pulled a 20-year-old bottle of propane out of storage and securely screwed the adapter  onto it. After that, I threaded the fuel line from the stove onto the adapter. Made sure the valve on the adapter was open, opened the fuel valve on the stove, lit it, and – voila – flame and heat. Noise-wise, it’s about as noisy as any other pressurized fuel backpacking stove…youre not going to be the stealthiest thing in the woods. The simmer was quite good and quite though and at lower levels of output it was much quieter.

20171027_120622Now, I keep several fuels on hand..propane, kerosene, gasoline, and a small amount of white gas. With this adapter, my Primus stove can run all of those. And, just for the sake of convenience and completeness, I’ll probably pick up a dozen butane cartridges as well just to round things out. Come the time I need to cook something (or boil water) I’ll have no less than five different options for getting the job done.

20171027_121110If you have one of those backpacking stoves (or lanterns) that take the small cartridges, you may want to investigate getting a couple of these adapters. Given the easy storage and versatility of 1# propane bottles, it would be an excellent option to have available.

While I have other stove options, including an ancient Coleman Peak1 that I’ve hauled around for damn near 30 years, the Primus has the advantage of being one stove that covers virtually every fuel choice that i might come across. For the person who doesn’t know where the or what the next fuel source will be, the Optimus is a nice choice and this little adapter makes it even more useful. Win – win.

As an aside, I had no problems with the stove or adapter but I did have trouble with the propane bottle itself. When I unscrewed the adapter from the propane bottle, the bottle did not seal properly and propane would leak out. Fortunately, I just screwed a different device into the bottle to act as a plug, but I need to investigate that sort of thing. In a crisis, I’d simply leave the adapter attached if the bottle wouldn’t seal properly when it was removed.

Tactical Notebook Covers

Ran into an interesting piece of gear this weekend. Somebody took the idea of the ol’ Trapper Keeper, dropped it in a vat of multicam, rolled it around in some molle, and added a lot of velcro to get these.

The one I got to examine was this model. I rather like the idea of having a separate system of keeping reference material at hand while writing. Could be maps, could be checklists, could be dryads, other code sheets, etc.

The one I examined appeared well-made and wuite well thought out. There’s a certain  modularity to these things allowing all sortsa useful accessories to be added on.

For the longest time I’ve been using one of the Write-In-The-Rain systems and while they work well, they are expensive and lack many of the features I saw on the TNC units.

I’m ordering up a couple of these for myself and will have more detail on them when they arrive. School starts next week and I’m looking forward to using this tactical Trapper Keeper at my classes.

The Trader

When I was a kid they had such things as ‘Army-Navy Stores’ which were, ostensibly, military surplus outlets. They still have them but now most of the stuff is made in China crap rather than genuine GI stuff. The greatest of these places was a place called The Trader over on Canal St. in Manhattan. It was an old building from the ’20s that was just jam packed with all sortsa gear. Sadly, I discovered that The Trader is no longer in business.

Canal St., by the way, was an awesome collection of stores for above-board and sometimes below-board stuff. Computer geeks were especially drawn to all the electronics surplus that some stores carried. I remember buying stuff t do all sortsa computer-related chaos.

Canal Street was also pretty mucht he place to buy illegal fireworks back in the day. There was nothing subtle about it. Just don’t blow anyone up and everyone pretyy much loked the other way.

After 9/11 The Trader was kind of an everyman’s survival supply. Sure, it was ostensibly a surplus store, but savvy survivalist knew that in all those piles of old Vietnam era flight suits, German ponchos, and surplus wool socks, there were a few things that could be useful for when the end of the world came.

I’ve linked to this article in the past, but it really is worth a repost…especially now that The Trader appears* to have gone the way of other great hole-in-the-wall specialty shops that used to populate NYC.

Survivor N.Y.C.

 

* = It appears The Trader is no longer in business. Google Earth shows a new business at the old Trader location on Canal Street.

Video – Digging up ammo cans from the bottom of a pond after a year

This is one of those ‘nice to know’ things. You’d be seven types of crazy to willingly store your ammo underwater for a long period of time, but any container that would (apparently) let you do that will certainly do a bang-up job of keeping your ammo dry when its sitting in the back of your truck as you drive through the night to your alpha site, or leave it sitting hidden under some forest debris for a while.

I would be extremely interested to see this sort of test performed using the Chinese knockoff ammo cans. Maybe they’d hold up, maybe not. But on this admittedly statistically small sample, it appears that good condition US ammo cans with good gaskets are capable of doing some amazing work keeping your ammo dry.

As an aside, I’m a belt-and-suspenders kinda guy…if it absolutely needs to be waterproof, put it int a water tight container…then put that in another waterproof container. And maybe vacuum seal the goodies inside in a nice thick plastic pouch.

Flare for the dramatic

,Rawles mentioned the a supplier for 26.5mm flares the other day.

Years back, Sportsmans Guide had a deal on genuine HK21A flare guns. As I recall, they were something like thirtyfive bucks or so and I bought a few. At the time there was a goodly amount of 26.5mm Czech flares on the market (26mm will work also). I wound up with quite a variety of projectiles and smoke. Hey, why not? They were cheap(ish) and definitely fun to play with.

Practical? Mmmmm….not sure. But..here’s where they shine – 26.5mm flares are far more…substantial..for your perimeter tripflare warning systems than those rinkydink 12 ga. Olin flares. A quick trip through the plumbing section of Home Depot gets you pretty much everything you need to build a tripflare warning system.

For the more DIY minded, I recall reading a how-to somewhere on the internet about nailing a rat trap to stake, and then attaching the pull chain off some of those Skyblazer flares to the trap bar. Set the trap, it gets triggered, bar snaps down pulling the chain and igniting the flare. Clever.

Of course, thinking about that sort of thing led me down the rabbit hole to how to make other perimeter warning devices using mousetraps. Interesting stuff.


Remember: primers are dangerous and they might ignite things you didn’t want to ignite that were in close proximity to them. So..be careful. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Life musings

Dropped off the docs to the tax preparer today. I make very little money and even *I* hate the way the tax system screws me over. I’d hate it even more if I actually made big bucks. i really do think we need a simple flat tax. 15% oughtta do it. It wouldn’t be so bad except that the tax codes aren’t even about rasing money to run .gov…it’s gotten into social engineering. They want people to own houses, since that presumably makes for a more stable and docile population, so they jigger the tax code to encourage you to own a house. Or to give money to approved charities. Or whatever other thing .gov wants to ‘encourage’.

Some Treasury secretary once opined, “What this nation needs is a tax system that looks like it was designed on purpose”. And it’s true. The tax code is the Winchester Mystery House of regulations. They never take anything out, they just add and modify whatever is already there.

I’ve been studying accounting and taxes for a few months now and let me tell you what I’ve learned: cash businesses rule. Seriously. Go open a car wash, pizzeria, adult bookstore, video game arcade, laundromat, or newsstand.

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Springlike weather has been going on here and i suspect that we *might* be done with the snow. This winter was a spectacularly annoying one. Not because it was harsh or anything, but rather because it kept doing a snow-thaw-refreeze cycle over and over. It got old real fast. Time to put air in the bike tires and get back to rising my bike around town.

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Saw Leupold’s new thermal imager today. It’s interesting but I wasnt terribly impressed. I was inside one of those big box stores and was playing with it. You could read residual heat signatures on objects, which was neat, but the effective range at which people registered as bright blips was a little short. I suspect it’s because the temperature in the building was a bit warm. Outside, at night, when it’s cooler the temperature contrast would be more pronounced. However, I could see this being a handy device for tracking wounded game or scanning your immediate area to make sure no one was laying in wait for you. It would probably also do a bang up job of seeing if a vehicle had been recently driven.

Interesting and would definitely be fun to explore, but not for the price. Resolution of the digital image was horrible, but I suppose that’s to be expected at this price.

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Also got to handle some newer guns….the CZ Bren rifle looked real nice, and I got to handle an MP5 clone from Zenith firearms. At $2k MSRP for either one, I’d probably stick with the AR15 for my .223 needs. The MP5 copy was cute, but for that price I could get three CZ Evo’s that would fill basically the same role. But…there’s just something so ’80s about the MP5….

Vacuum packaging clothes

A few posts back, I mentioned that I carry some spare clothes in the vehicle winter gear box. I vacuum pack them for two reasons – first, it keeps them clean and dry; second, it helps to compact items to conserve space. But, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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For this example, we’ll use this Carrhart Face Mask..a bulky, thick, warm head/face covering that is well suited for spending the night in a cold vehicle. For the purpose of size comparison, note the beer-can sized object next to it.

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We fold it into thirds so it’ll fit in the bag, slide it in and set it down for comparison. Note the amount of loft/bulk…it’s about half as tall as the Coke can. The coke can is about 4.75″. The folded face mask is about 3″ thick. Let’s draw the air out of it and see what it compresses down to.

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Finished product. Not only is it now going to stay dry and clean, two very important features for a piece of gear that might be called upon in an emergency, but the thickness is a fraction of what it was before. When space is at a premium, this is an exceptionally good way of making the most of what you have.

Sure, buying yourself a vacuum sealer is a very(!) good way to maximize your savings on bulk purchases of meats and whatnot, but it also comes in very handy for protecting and storing items that absolutely must be stay in good condition. A buddy of mine just bought one the other day and when I talked to him a few days later he’d already had a good time experimenting with it and sealing up all sortsa stuff.

By the by, I actually do use the stupid thing for kitchen purposes. The absolute most useful thing I’ve done with it, in regards to food, is using it to store extra spaghetti sauce. See, I’ll make a huge batch of meat sauce with beef and sausage. Then I’ll put a couple ladles of sauce into a bag, let it freeze solid in the freezer, and once it’s solid I’ll vacuum seal the bag. (Because vacuum sealing a bag of liquids is messy. So..freeze solid.) Then, months (or years) down the road when I want a quick and easy meal, I’ll throw on a big pot of water for pasta. As the water comes to a boil I drop the bag of frozen spaghetti sauce in there. It thaws as the water comes to a boil. Remove bag, add pasta to water and cook. Put the thawed bag in the microwave for a couple minutes and when the pasta is done I just cut the edge of the bag and add sauce to the pasta. One pot cooking. I’m tellin’ ya, if you’re an imaginative dude you can come up with a lot of great ideas on how to exploit a vacuum sealer.

Streamlight Siege

You guys remember Hydrox cookies? If you couldn’t pop for real Oreos, you bought Hydrox. Much like how if you’re on a budget, you don’t buy Frosted Flakes but rather the generic store brand ‘Frostie Flakes’ or some such (Slogan: “Theyrrrrrrrre….okay”.)

To me, Streamlight has always been the working-class version of SureFire. Yes, Streamlight has, as I read it, been around a tad longer than SureFire but SureFire gets the rep as the ‘high end’ tacticool product. (Interestingly, Hydrox came out before Oreos, as well.)

20160731_142828I’m kind of a gear snob, but I’m a pragmatists even more. A few years ago Streamlight came out with a product that, as far as  I know, has no comparable version from SureFire…the Streamlight Siege. (Although, to be fair, Eveready and a few others make a similar product but I don’t believe it to be as rugged and well thought out as the Streamlight product.)

The Siege is an LED lantern for area lighting. Nothing remarkable about that, but as you look the product over more closely you get the idea that it was designed for a very particular demographic….we happy survivalists.

20160731_143108The Siege runs on three D-cell batteries….one of the most common sizes of batteries around. Just about everyone has a couple D-cell MagLites floating around the house or car..the Siege takes advantage of that common battery. If you really want to streamline things, there are battery adapters that allow you to run one size of battery in devices meant for a larger size. Most often we see this with adapters that let you run AA-batts in devices that were meant for D-cells. But, my logistics revolves around three battery sizes (AA,D, and CR123) so I have plenty of D-batts laying around. (Interestingly, it seems like virtually the only thing I have that runs on D’s these days are flashlights. The days of radios and other devices running on D-batteries is coming to a close. )

20160731_142908The light source for the Siege is four white LED’s, and a fifth red LED. Holding down the one control button toggles between red or white. When the white LEDs are selected you have a choice of three brightness levels, starting with the highest. When the red LED is selected you have one brightness level, but double-clicking the button puts the red LED into SOS blinky mode.  The plastic ‘shade’ of the Siege diffuses the glow of the LEDs and is removable if you want more harsh lighting.

The top and bottom of the Siege has rugged rubber ‘bumpers’ making the light pretty resistant to being dropped, knocked over, or just banged around. Theres a foldaway clip on the underside of the light for hanging it upsidedown when you have the shade removed, and there’s a bail handle on the other end to hang it from whatever is handy when you do have the shade on.20160731_143039

The non-skid tread on the bumper-like bottom of the light keeps it from sliding on slick surfaces and provides an excellent grip for unscrewing the base to change batteries.

Light output on low is enough to illuminate a room so you don’t trip over anything, on high it’s bright enough to get things done but you’ll still feel like you’re in a power outage. Where this light seems to really shine (as it were) is as an emergency ‘area light’. When the power goes out its the light you turn on and stick high up in a corner of the room, hang in the stairwell, or put in your emergency gear storage area. It’s an awesome emergency light for when the power goes out and you need some light to get your gear together or start up your secondary systems (generator, transfer switch, etc.)

I haven’t beaten the crap out of it yet, but it has rolled off my desk a few times, and once bounced out of the truck….seems to still be doing just fine. Your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve been very pleased with mine and will be getting three or four more as spares/backups/loaners.

They’re available at the usual sources, like Amazon, but once in a while you can find an outdoors-gear vendor having them on sale. Even at regular price, though, they’re a good purchase.

Cuben fiber

Clearly I need to get out more, because up until the other day I had never heard of Cuben fiber.

Silnylon is the shizznits when it comes to lightweight materials for backpacking gear. But, apparently the new kid on the block is this material called Cuben fiber. I was talking to a guy the other day and he was showing me his gear. He had the lightest bivvysack I’ve ever seen… the ground-side was Cuben fiber, the top side was snetting and silnylon. Apparently the CF was waterproof/resistant enough to be a good choice for that task.

It reminds me of Tyvek in terms of the feel and color. Apparently it got its start as sailcloth material for high-tech sailboats and, as with a ll technology, it eventually trickled into other fields.

I need to do some investigating to see if it comes in some more useful colors. And I’d like to test it out to see how waterproof it really is. With the ridiculous light weight it would make an awesome ‘tarp’ to take along in case you have to shelter overnight when on a hunting trip or something.

Clearly, more investigation is in order.

Cast iron seasoning experiment

I love cooking with cast iron. To my way of thinking, cast iron, especially Dutch ovens, have a place in the survivalist stockpile by virtue of their utility, durability, and versatility. What I cannot freaking stand about cast iron, though, is seasoning it.

Ever get a roasting pan or some other metal bakeware that winds up getting some grease or oil baked onto it to the point that it leaves a hard, black, spot on the metal that is virtually impossible to scour off? Well, the idea is to do that on purpose to the piece of cast iron. Most resources tell you to clean your cast iron really well, slather it in Crisco or some other oil/fat, wipe it down, and bake it on high heat in an oven to season it.

Does. Not. Work.

I tried going through cycles of heat pot, wipe down pot with oil, bake in oven, let cool, repeat, repeat, repeat. Marginal results. Additionally, unless you’re cool with your house smelling like a dumpster fire behind KFC you really want to do this sort of thing outside.

Which brings us to an experiment I figured I’d share with you all.

Yeas ago, someone was nice enough to buy me one of these for my birthday. Although Lodge sells their stuff as pre-seasoned, you’d be a fool to take their word for it. I went through various techniques to try and season it and nothing ever did the trick just right. It was a shame too, because smokin’ hot cast iron is just the thing for maintaining temperature when you drop a pound of cold diced chicken and vegetables into it.

I had read several articles on the best method to season cast iron and, more importantly, what fat/oil to use. After reading a bunch articles on the topic, this one made the most sense.

So, I’ll use the flax oil. Now what? Well, I need a heat source. I was originally going to use my propane barbecue but wanted a more direct application of heat to the metal. Then I remembered I have my Volcano stove with propane conversion in storage. I set up the stove, cranked it up high, sat the cleaned wok on top of it and waited for it to heat up. While I waited, I took a small patch of towel material and my cooking tongs and got ready to swab down the wok. When the wok was sufficiently hot, I dipped my swab in the flax oil and wiped down the entire inside of the wok..making sure not to use so much oil that it pooled in the bottom of the wok. Smoked like heck, lemme tell you. Once I had completely coated the inside of the wok, I stood back and waited for the smoke to clear. After five minutes the smoking had virtually ceased, so I swabbed it out again. More smoke. Wait five minutes. Repeat. I did this about eight times and then finally let it cool. Tried it out this afternoon and it worked great. Threw it on the burner, poured in some oil, and stirred up some chicken. Nothing stuck to the wok, and clean up was the usual boil-water-in-it-to-loosen-things-up-and-wipe-it-out procedure. A quick wipe with an oily paper towel and its good to go.

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By the by, if youre going to start over and reseason a piece of cast iron, here’s the method I use to remove seasoning. Works great, just takes a little time.