If you’d asked me when I started this website if I’d ever write about underwear I’d have given you an emphatic “NO!” But the topic seems to come up from time to time and believe it or not it really is preparedness related. In a previous post I described the Magic Fireproof Underwear that I wore in Iraq. Here at Prepography we often borrow heavily from our military experiences to advise our preparedness activities but we aren’t wed to them when something else will work as well or provides a better value so today we’re talking about my new Bug Out Skivvies!
Once or twice a year I update my bug out bag which largely does double duty as my get home bag. I strip it down, check expiration dates and function check all the contents before deciding what I want to update or change based on new skills, knowledge or tweaks in my preparedness philosophy. One piece of knowledge that I’ve added since moving to The Hermitage, our homestead is that cotton underwear just doesn’t do it when they’re sure to get wet from sweat or rain and you’ll be spending large amounts of time trying to stay warm and/or avoid chaffing. I did have previous experience with the XGO underwear (the magic fireproof underwear with moisture wicking properties) I wore overseas but frankly I’m a briefs wearer and boxer briefs (which is what XGO makes) are all well and good when the twigs & berries are in jeopardy from IED generated fire but definitely wouldn’t be my first choice in areas that are to date…virtually IED free.
I’ve been actively reading the past year or so about ultra lightweight travelling and ultra lightweight hiking tips, tricks, techniques and gear and have been incorporating some of what I’ve learned into my Bug out bag. One of the pieces of ‘gear’ that virtually everyone in those communities recommends is ExOfficio brand underwear so I decided to give them a go. I discovered that:
I’ll spare you the details of the 2 day stress test I put my new Bug Out Skivvies through but suffice it to say that they came through as all the ultra lightweight testimonials described.
ExOfficio underwear is available for both men and women. It is made of 94% nylon and 6% lycra which is light weight, wicks moisture effectively, provides great comfort and dries out quickly. In fact after testing this underwear I’ve reduced the pairs of underwear in my but out bag to 2 pair of underwear…I’ll wear one and wash one…no need to wait for it to dry either…just roll them up in a dry towel after washing and they’re ready to wear…hang them off your pack or set them in the sun for a few minutes if you want them 100% dry.
While XGO products would be my go to choice in a war zone or for fire fighting operations, I’ve found ExOfficio brand underwear to be as comfortable to wear to the office as it is to sweat through all day on the homestead (no chaffing). Additionally, while more expensive than cotton briefs they are cost effective as compared to other wicking garments like those made by XGO and are extremely light weight. My new ExOfficio briefs have already replaced all the bug out skivvies in my bug out bag / get home bag, I’m going to buy enough pairs to use while traveling and will likely replace much of my daily wear unmentionables as I wear them out as well. In fact they aren’t just good for bug out skivvies but good around the homestead or working outside as well. If you try them out, let me know what you think.
After I submitted my article “How To Make Water Proof Matches,” Andrew asked me if I’d be willing to post some pics and descriptions of my home made fire making kit. I said sure. So, for your viewing pleasure and critique, here is my
|Here is the kit itself. The plastic container was purchased at Hobby Lobby for $1 USD. It measures 5.5in x 5.5in x 1.5in, and has a hinged lid. It is not waterproof; more on that later.|
|The next photo shows the kit opened up. There are 5 compartments, 1 larger center compartment and 4 smaller ones. I’ve numbered them for ease of identification in this article.# 1 A portion of the strike strip from a box of wooden matches. I used spray on contact glue to affix it to the inside of the lid.|
|#2 60 home made water proof matches. Click here to read the Prepography pictorial article on how to make them yourself. They are wrapped in a bit of aluminum foil to keep them from rattling around in the compartment,|
|#3 2 tea light candles and the instructions for the magnesium fire started that is in the kit. The candles came from a bag full of misc candles purchased at a local thrift store. I needed something to keep them from rattling around in their compartment, so I used the fire starter instructions. These instructions are made from card stock and folded to take up the extra space and keep the candles quiet. There’s also an added benefit to including them, not only do they provide instructions for the person who does not know how to use the fire starter…but in a pinch the card board can be used as tinder.|
|#4 Magnesium fire starter and a length of braided hemp rope. The fire starter came from Harbor Freight Tools and cost around $3 USD. It’s not the best one on the market, it does the job, though. The rope can be used as tinder. I wrap it around the fire starter to keep it from rattling around.
Andrew’s Note: Make sure to test your fire starter as there have been reports of counterfeit, non-working models being imported in recent years. Testing it will take several tries as there is usually a coating or varnish you must get through.
|#5 12 Vaseline covered cotton balls in a snack size Zip-lock bag. These make great accelerators for starting fires in damp conditions. Folded up, the bag fits perfectly in it’s compartment. The cost for this item was negligible, as everything came from the cabinet and pantry.|
|#6 2 lighters and 30in x12in piece of aluminum foil. One lighter is a Bic Mini ($1 USD). The other is a light anywhere lighter I got from Survival Life ($4 USD) It has a steel striker with a cotton wick that fits inside the lighter. The lighter is filled with butane. The striker is struck on a magnesium rod that is on the side of the lighter. It works very well. In my other fire kits, I have 2 bic lighters. The aluminum foil can be used for many purposes; gathering water, cooking, signaling, etc. It also keeps the lighters in place when in the kit.|
The kit has multiple ways to start a fire when needed, and are usable as they are. There are a couple of improvements I am going to make, though. The first is going to be to add some char cloth to the kit. I need to make it, writing a Prepography How-To article in the process. The second improvement will be to water proof the kit. I am going to do this by taking electrician’s tape and wrapping it around the case, along the seam where the lid and body meet. Not only will this help water proof the kit, but the tape could come in handy in a survival situation.
If you’ve made it this far, let me know what you think. Is there something I missed, or that you would change? Feel free to comment below.
ScoutMasterCG.com has developed a neat infographic on the Top 10 Fire Starters…really ten fire starting techniques and tools that should be combined to cook that food, purify that water or warm up that shelter.
Scoutmastercg.com developed a great backpack selection infographic that would be equally helpful to those of you developing or wanting to improve the fit of your backpack based bug out bag.
Looking for a SHTF gun? Recently, I read a very good article that was been re-posted around the web entitled “Building A Survival Arsenal On A Budget“. It gave some very practical advice on which SHTF gun, pistols, rifles and shotguns, would fit in to a survival plan on a budget. Common features on many a low priced SHTF gun is a break action and single shot capability. To fill the niche for a rim fire SHTF gun they featured the Chiappa Little Badger; a neat little break action .22LR rim fire which comes in around the $170 price range. I couldn’t help but think that for $100 more I could fill the niche of a rim fire .22 in my SHTF gun arsenal, as well as a shotgun and a center-fire hunting rifle with one package. That package is the Rossi Trifecta Youth Combo.
The Rossi Trifecta is an extremely versatile shooting system that lends itself for use as a SHTF gun. It combines a black synthetic stock with three calibers of interchangeable barrels. They are a .22LR rim fire, with adjustable fiber optic sights. A shotgun, with bead front sight. Lastly, a center fire rifle, with adjustable fiber optic sights. The barrels change with one screw and no tools. You can get the Rossi Trifecta in several different flavors:
The set also includes a scope mount base, hammer extension and removable cheek piece allowing adjustments for proper fit with each barrel. The Rossi Trifecta sets also include a custom carry case to hold the gun and barrels in take-down condition.
The good: The Rossi Trifecta can fill three niches ias a SHTF gun, in one package. That package is reasonably priced. In a SHTF scenario, it gives you the ability to to take small game, fowl, and larger game. The gun system weights about 6.5 pounds when taken down and packed, so it is extremely portable. It is a break action gun, with simplicity at its heart. It will fit inside a Ruck-sack, or just as easily strap on to the outside of one, as well. You can customize it as the rifle barrels will take a scope rail.
The bad: Rossi Trifecta is a youth gun, and is scaled as such. Due to the shorter barrel lengths accuracy suffers, especially on the shotgun and larger caliber rifle barrels. Addition of a scope does alleviate this problem a bit. It is still there, though. Another issue associated with the length is, well…the length of the gun. The barrel lengths are 18.5″ for the .22LR, and 22″ for the rifle and shotgun barrels. The stock is 15″ in length, giving respective overall lengths of 33.5″/37″/37″. The gun fits children, young adults and most women perfectly. For a full sized man, it can be a bit of an effort to hold the gun properly. It can be done, though. In shotgun and center-fire configuration there is a bit of a kick, as well; due to the barrel length and weight.
The ugly: I am not going to lie, the reviews you’ll read of the Rossi Trifecta are mixed, at best. For every 4 or 5 star review, there are several 1, 2, or 3 ones. A majority of the bad ones have to deal with the accuracy, as well as a bevy of complaints about mis-fires on the early models.
Here’s the point where I will attempt to tie the good, the bad and the ugly of the Rossi Trifecta up in to one nice bundle for you. Hopefully, I can give you a little perspective and help you decide if it is a SHTF gun for you. My son received the Rossi Trifecta youth combo for Christmas around age 12 or 13; he is now 21. He lost interest in it, so it was handed down to my daughter. She used it to learn to shoot, as well. She still uses it from time to time, even though she has graduated to more adult guns. Now, the gun is considered to be my gun, because I am the only one that still shoots it on a (semi)regular basis. Over the years my children had the gun, I used it at various times. I’ve taken squirrels with the .22LR, shot skeet with the 20-guage, and even took my first doe with the .243. [Andrew’s Note: My oldest’s first gun was a Rossi rifle/shotgun system as well]
I’ve attached cheap rails and Bushnell scopes to the rim fire and center fire barrels. As long as I don’t bang the case around too much, they hold a zero reasonably well. This is true even with the movement of the break action when reloading. I can accurately hit a 2″ target with the .22LR at 25yds all day long. The .243, with its flat trajectory, is laser straight at 50yds and I can hit a pie plate sized target at 150yds more often than not. That type of accuracy may not be competition worthy. When looking for a SHTF gun it isn’t as big a consideration. If you are looking to drop a deer or other larger game in a survival situation it works perfectly fine, especially at short ranges.
With that said, the concerns about the accuracy of the Rossi Trifecta are valid. Over iron sights, it is difficult, but not impossible, to hold decent groups. Out past about 20-25yds the pattern on the 20-gauge isn’t the greatest, either. My take on the matter is this. There are sacrifices that must be made in a gun system like this. For the price of some accuracy, you gain versatility and portability. A gun like this will never perform as well as a single purpose gun, unless you want to drop large sums of cash. That kind of defeats the whole purpose of the exercise of finding a low budget SHTF gun.
The concerns about the misfires may have been valid at one point. In my experience Rossi has since fixed any design flaws (if there were any) that may have caused this issue. The only time the gun has misfired for me is when it is extremely dirty. Carbon builds up on the face of the receiver and the firing pin won’t strike properly. Another problem caused by a dirty gun is that shotgun shells will get stuck in the chamber. They easily come out with a bore punch. Both issues are remedied by a quick cleaning of the gun. It should go without saying that thorough cleaning between uses also helps keep stoppages due to fouling to a minimum. Any SHTF gun you choose will need regular cleaning to function properly.
As a SHTF gun, the Rossi Trifecta could be easily carried and used. The ammo for all three configurations could end up weighing more than the taken down gun itself. I am a big guy, so that doesn’t really concern me. I can pack a lot of weight. For a smaller guy/gal it could pose a problem. Distributing ammo among your group would fix that issue. As a SHTF gun it is not optimal as a defensive weapon. Still, in a pinch, I’d rather have this than nothing. Hopefully, if things have gone South, you won’t find yourself in a situation where this would be the only SHTF gun available for defense. If need be, it would give you the ability to accurately engage a target well beyond pistol range with a round that will stop a man.
As a SHTF gun, I think the Rossi Trifecta is a perfect fit for the survival hunting role. This is especially true for those on a budget, or those looking for the most “bang” for their buck. As noted it is extremely portable. From personal experience, I can tell you it is extremely rugged to boot. At around $280 you can get the versatility of three guns that would cost you $350 on a low, low budget and up to $800, or more, on a moderate budget. I think a lot of the bad reviews about the Rossi Trifecta, especially in regards to accuracy and the kick, are more due to unrealistic expectations than anything that is ‘wrong” with the gun. Is it a top performer in any of the 3 niches it fills? No, it isn’t by a long shot… but it does perform in an acceptable manner in all three roles. For what it is, and what it does, I think the good out-weighs the bad, and one would be well served by the Rossi Trifecta as a SHTF gun.
There are lots of great little stoves for backpacking or putting in your bug out bag but there aren’t many that will be less expensive than this DIY Bug Out Stove that you can learn how to make with this infographic. The only potential drawback to these stoves after you add a pot holder (they used nails but I like using coat hanger wire) is the liquid fuel but this is still a great, almost free alternative to the Esbit Pocket Stove.
(Grumpy G’s disclaimer: I am not a doctor; just a cautious consumer. This article is not intended to impart any medical advice. The only recommendation I have that you should listen to 100% is this; before taking this product, or any other nutritional product for that matter, talk to a medical professional. If you do take it, and don’t feel right, chances are something isn’t. Stop taking it and, again, talk to a medical professional. Enjoy my SurvivAMINO Product Review.)
Andrew’s Note: After reading our SurvivAMINO Product Review, use Coupon Code “Prepography” for a 20% discount on Step 2 of Checkout.
SurvivAMINO is described as a “Tactical Protein Replacement for Survival”. VitalitySciences promotes it as being a substitute for heavier, bulkier protein items in your bug out bag, kit, or pack. SurvivAMINO provides this protein in the form of 8 essential amino acids in a small package. Instead of packing along heavier, bulkier food items you can replace each meal’s protein with just five little tablets of SurvivAMINO.
Each bottle of SurvivAMINO costs $45 ($39.99 with the Coupon Code Prepography) and contains 100 tablets of dietary supplements that contain essential amino acids as a protein replacement. You can also purchase by the 12 bottle case for $495 ($396 with Coupon Code), which is a little over a 9% discount before using the coupon code. Shipping is free in the continental US. Per the usage instructions, the 100 tablets represent 20 servings, or basically a weeks’ worth of protein replacement. VitalitySciences is very clear on their website that this product is meant to replace protein only, and not whole foods. In other words, you cannot replace all food with SurvivAMINO and expect to stay healthy. Instead, you can carry your protein in a compact, lightweight form. In fact, the supplement comes in a standard vitamin style bottle and weighs just a quarter what a similar amount of protein from pemmican or a 1/20th as much as the same amount of protein from canned meat would weight.
VitalitySciences provides a handy website where the consumer can purchase and learn more about SurvivAMINO. The website includes:
All in all, the website is well put together, and easy to use.
At this point, I’m going to change gears are talk about proteins and EAAs. Protein is an essential nutrient which helps form the structural component of body tissues and is used within many biological processes. For example, protein is used to make enzymes, antibodies to help us fight infection as well as DNA. It is also needed to make up muscle tissue, which in turn helps to keep our bodies active, strong, and healthy. Most protein is stored in the body as muscle, generally accounting for around 40-45% of our body’s total mass. If you increase activity, perhaps to improve health, fitness, or body composition, you will need more protein to function. The same can be said about elevated activity during and emergency situations, or bug out and get home situations. Protein in your diet will also help alleviate feelings of hunger. The body cannot use protein taken from food until it is broken down into amino acids. There are 20 to 21 amino acids (depending on what you read) which can be arranged in a myriad of ways to create the proteins the body needs to survive. Essential amino acids are “essential” not because they are more important for protein than the others, but because the body cannot synthesize them. They must be supplied by an outside source. The symptoms of essential amino acid deficiencies manifest themselves as nervousness, exhaustion and dizziness.
VitalitySciences intends for their product to be a replacement for protein in one’s preparations. Again, their website is very clear that this is not meant to be a replacement for all food; rather it is meant to replace just the protein containing foods one would normally consume. The website points out that SurvivAMINO is good choice for emergency kits; which I take to mean bug out or 72 hour bags even though there is a weeks’ worth of nutrition in each bottle. Amino acid absorption is a little beyond the scope of this article but the manufacturer claims that their superior sourcing enables the amino acids in SurvivAMINO to be better absorbed which will provide performance.
I am not a dietician, nor am I a high level athlete. However, through past military and sports training I do know how my body reacts and how I feel when my diet is out of whack. I used SurvivAMINO as a replacement for protein in my diet twice a day for 5 days. That’s half a bottle for anyone not paying attention. Honestly, I was not looking forward to the testing process as I do like my proteins, especially when they are grilled or smoked. This was actually a prime time for me to test the product, as I am currently on a Weight Watchers plan. I diligently log my food intake daily and my weight several times a week. I am much, more in tune with my body’s nutrition than I have been in years. I also have access to professional clinical nutritional dietitians through work, and I planned on taking the product to them to get their feedback. In addition to the dietitians, I wanted to speak to some Boy Scout leader friends who have extensive experience long distant backpacking to get their thoughts on it, as well. Finally, SurvivAMINO tries to set itself apart with the claim that it is superior in grade than their competitors, so I asked VitalitySciences; via the “Contact Us” feature on its website, if it had any independent verification of that claim.
I took SurvivAMINO as directed; taking 5 tablets for lunch and dinner, each, while cutting out as much other protein as I could. During the testing, my daily intake of protein, beforeSurvivAMINO was only about 10 grams daily. The recommended daily protein intake for an adult meal is around 56 grams. At the end of the week, I felt none the worse. The first day I did have a stomach ache after taking the tablets. Realistically, that can be attributed to an empty stomach (more on that later) and not the tablets. I thought I would feel the effects from lack of protein intake, but I didn’t. For the last 4-5 weeks my weight loss had been averaging .285 Lbs per day on Weight Watchers. I lost a total of 4 Lbs during the testing period for an average of .8 Lbs per day. The weight loss was not unexpected; I was surprised at how much it was, though. I did not decrease any other food intake during the test period, except the protein. I did replace the lost fats in the meat with olive oil. It makes me wonder how much weight you would lose in a real life emergency over the same period, with increased stress, increased activity and reduced rations.
The professional clinical nutritional dietitians I discussed SurvivAMINO with were dubious about the product when I took it to them. They weren’t keen on replacing meats, fish, nuts, and other protein rich foods with an amino acid supplement. They said that they would have liked to have seen more detailed nutritional info on it than what was provided, as well. They did say though, that no nutritional harm would come from using the product as directed over a short period; say 2-3 days. In fact, the only thing they said they would change in that instance would be the dosage instructions. They suggested that instead of taking 5 tablets per meal, you should eat the same amount of tablets, but stretch your intake over the course of the day. The reason for this change, they explained, is that they felt the body would do a better job of absorbing and using the amino acids through more frequent and smaller doses. They also suggested incorporating multi-vitamins into the plan as well. This is because as you cut protein containing foods out of your diet you are also losing what vitamins and minerals they contain, as well.
The Scout leaders I talked with had a different take on SurvivAMINO. They liked the idea of being able to drop weight from their packs, and still have the nutritional value the product could provide. However, for holistic reasons, they were hesitant about replacing meals with tablets. They made the point that the act of eating is a huge component of the human psyche, and that eating, especially food high in protein, is very comforting and satisfying. They pointed out that this is especially true after an arduous or stressful experience. They wondered what the effects on moral would be if that experience was reduced through replacement by supplements. Additionally, they pointed out that an empty stomach (remember my stomach aches the first day?) can be more detrimental to one’s moral than the discomfort of carrying around the extra weight in food. They pointed out that at least the weight would decrease as the days pass. They did say that in an emergency situation SurvivAMINO would be better than nothing, but suggested that they would use SurvivAMINO it as a supplement to their more traditional protein intake and not a total replacement. At the time of posting, I am still waiting to hear back from VitalitySciences on my inquiry about independent verification of the higher quality of their product. I haven’t heard anything back, thus far. If I do get a response, I will make sure to update this article.
In the end, I would use SurvivAMINO in real world application. However, I would use it as a supplement, rather than a total protein replacement. I would pack it, along with some form of whole food protein. The extra weight would be negligible and it would be a great way to stretch what heavier protein I carry. Carrying SurvivAMINO would increase the time frame in which I could keep my body fueled, therefore increasing my chances of survival. In fact, I wouldn’t ‘pack’ SurvivAMINO, I would actually carry it on my body along with other essential essentials. That way, if had to dump my gear, I would still have my protein replacement on me.
Don’t forget that there’s a 20% discount available on SurvivAMINO with the Coupon Code “Prepography“…
I’ve received several e-mails since I started Prepography from mature preppers and preppers with limited mobility asking about bug out options in the case of an Electromagnetic Pulse or Coronal Mass Ejection. I’ve recommended several different solutions over the years to that offer the ability for even those with limited strength to carry a heavy load over miles of rough terrain but I think I’ve found a better solution…the Bug Out Buggy.
While originally designed for sportsmen and women to carry long guns and equipment to and from the field and called the Gun Buggy by its manufacturer…it would be easily adapted into your own personal 21st century pack mule if necessary to bug out or get home while on foot.
The original specs and product video describe the But Out Buggy as:
If I was setting this baby up for bugging out or getting home in a situation with little or no rule of law I’d:
Finally, give serious thought to what your weight carrying limitations are and carry what you can on your body in case you have to abandon your Bug Out Buggy.
The tendency with bug out bags is to throw everything but the kitchen sink… Not only could this seriously slow you down at the precise time you need to be light on your feet, but having a bag that is overloaded with a lot of stuff you could live without… could get you killed.
Today Prepography is pleased to present garbage… garbage bags that is…as in the top 10 preparedness uses of garbage bags. Garbage bags can be used by preppers for dozens of purposes besides rubbish disposal. I like the heavy duty, Contractor Grade Garbage Bags because they’re larger and more durable than the typical kitchen variety. In the Jackson household often buy our heavy duty garbage bags through school fundraisers but they’re also available from the big box and local hardware stores as well as online.