Bug Out Skivvies

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:

  1. ExOfficio brand products offer the same or better wicking protection than I received from my XGO underwear

    Magic Fireproof Underwear

    XGO Magic Fireproof Underwear

  2. ExOfficio brand underwear costs about 2/3rd’s the cost of the XGO underwear, just remember that XGO provides fire protection and ExOfficio synthetics would likely melt under high heat
  3. ExOfficio offers briefs and boxers as well as the boxer brief style that XGO offers (XGO does offer some balaclavas and long underwear options that have value as fire retardant layers though)
  4. ExOfficio is treated with an antimicrobial just like XGO.  While they describe their technology differently they both help eliminate odors and keep your privates healthy.
  5. ExOfficio offers outerwear layers made of the same moisture wicking material
  6. The ExOfficio briefs I ordered weigh significantly less than my XGO boxer briefs.
  7. ExOfficio brand underwear costs about 2/3rd’s the cost of the XGO underwear, just remember that XGO provides fire protection and ExOfficio synthetics would likely melt under high heat

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.

Bug Out Skivvies

ExOfficio Underwear

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.

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Brief,Charcoal,Medium


SHTF Gun: The Under-appreciated Rossi Trifecta

The Rossi Trifecta: Introduction

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: Description

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:shtf gun rossi_trifecta bag

  • 22LR/ 243 Winchester/410 shotgun (available with a green stock)
  • 22LR/ 44 Mag/ 20-gauge
  • 22LR/ 7mm-08 Remington/ 20-gauge
  • 22LR/ 243 Winchester/ 20-gauge (this is the one my family has)

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 Rossi Trifecta: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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.

The Rossi Trifecta: My Personal Experience and Thoughts

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]

shtf gun rossi_trifecta scoped

Rossi Trifecta with mounted scopes

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.

The Rossi Trifecta: Is it a SHTF gun?

rossi_trifecta1As 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.


Choosing a Flashlight For Night Fighting

I was very fortunate to attend one of the Strategoes Low Light Instructor courses while I was employed as a police officer.  That particular Strategoes course was a week long course that trained me to become my department’s trainer and subject matter expert on low light engagements…in other words, night fighting for the police officer.  While I am now retired I’m fortunate to have decades worth of training to fall back on when times are tough and I thought I’d share some of what I learned about choosing a flashlight for night fighting both during that week and through my dual law enforcement and military careers. (more…)

How to Field Strip A MRE (Meal Ready To Eat)

Many survivalists, hunters, preppers and outdoor enthusiasts buy commercial Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE’s).  These commercial MRE’s are very similar to the military MRE’s that the Department of Defense (DOD) provides to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for field use (for some reason the DOD doesn’t allow the manufacturers to sell the same meals to the public).  In this short article we’ll discuss what an MRE is and an easy way to cut down on the size and weight of MRE’s…or as we call it in the military…how to field strip a MRE.

What is an MRE:

The MRE has been the primary field ration of our troops since the early 1980’s.  It’s a self contained, calorie dense (over 1,200 calories), shelf stable (up to five years under optimal conditions) meal designed to keep you fueled during labor intensive activities.  While it’s designed as ‘a’ meal I found that even during the toughest field exercises it was just too much food/calories to be consumed as ‘a’ meal.  Depending on the nature of the exercise and work involved I usually carried and ate 1-2 MRE’s per day.  I’ll leave the discussion of the culinary ‘delights’ of the MRE for another time but you should know that these meals aren’t just heavy, they’re also bulky.

Note:  The MRE is heavy by backpacking food standards not in relation to the MRE’s predecessor the C Ration. (more…)

Top 10 Preparedness Uses of Diatomaceous Earth

What is Diatomaceous Earth:

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of waterborne diatoms and algae.  DE is mined product…wonder if the job description is “fossil miner?”  DE has the consistency of and looks like an off-white version of baby or talcum powder.  DE is non-toxic and is sold in both food and non-food grades (see warning below about pool filter DE).  While DE is mammal safe (even to eat if food grade) wear a mask while handling it as you wouldn’t want DE to get into your lungs.  WARNING:  Don’t use DE sold as pool filter media for any other purpose as the silica count is too high and breathing this DE in particular could create health issues).

DE’s primary use is for organic, non-toxic pest control.  I discovered DE years ago as a heaven sent solution to keep my wife happy…you see she went back and forth on whether she hated the ants invading our house or the poisons I sprayed to keep the ants out more.  The product works by scratching up the exoskeleton of insects so that they dehydrate and die.  Here are the Top 10 ways to use (food grade and only food grade) DE:

  1. Grain Storage:  Food grade DE has been used for centuries to keep stored grain pest free.  According to Diatomite Canada the proper mix is 1 cup of food grade DE to 50 lbs of grain.  It can even be ground with the grain into meal or flour and you’ll never notice it in the final product (bread, muffins, cereal, etc.).
  1. Construction:  Any time I build a wall I spread a good amount of DE along the 2×4 base before closing up the drywall for permanent, non-toxic pest control.  If I have to open up a wall or repair drywall I dump in a few scoops as well.  We’re fortunate that we’ve never had a cockroach infestation…and I intend to keep it that way.
  2. Ant Barrier:  My favorite use is as an ant barrier because it keeps my wife happy…and if the wife is happy, everybody’s happy.  Simply sprinkle your DE around the foundation where you see the ants trooping in and your ant problems are over.  You will need to refresh the DE periodically…I just wait until I see the little ant scouts inside the house again.
  3. Gardening:  Keep pests away from your garden plants.  You can dust your garden plants and spread food grade DE around the plant bases to keep bugs and slugs off. (more…)

Fan of the Ammo Can – Top 10 Uses

Even as a child I was a big fan of the ammo can.  The military issue ammo cans are sturdy metal boxes with latched lids that can be used for a number purposes besides their original.  They come in a variety of sizes and shapes but all are designed to be air and water tight thanks to the a rubber gasket and latched lid with friction lock.  Additionally, these boxes each have one or more handles so that they are easy to carry.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the various uses of these boxes since a buddy and I recently got a steal of a deal on two pallets full through Government Liquidation.  Here are the Top 10 uses for your ammo can:

  1. First Aid Kit for a Rafting Expedition:  It’s perfect because it’s watertight and floats…just don’t forget to paint it a bright color so it’s easy to spot along the shore after you flip your raft.
  2. Tackle Box:  One of the most common uses besides that originally intended.  Again, it’s perfect because it’s watertight and floats…but also because it will tend to hold in the stench if you’re using stink bait to catch those catfish.
  3. Letterboxing:  Letterboxing is a hobby that uses GPS or maps to ‘treasure hunt’ with the treasure being a rubber stamp that you use to mark a small book you carry for that purpose.  There are many variations and it’s a great ‘game’ to get children and teens outside and teach them how to use GPS and maps.  Letterbox Caches are usually stored in a weatherproof box and an ammo can is a perfect choice.  Discover more about letterboxing here or here.
  4. Cache:  Need to store something outside and keep it safe and dry…consider an ammo can.  Don’t forget to drop in a desiccant package in case of ‘sweating.’  Wrap the ammunition can in a couple of plastic bags to help protect it from the water…rust is the ammo can’s only real enemy.
  5. Storing Nickels:  James Rawles over at Survivalblog has featured a number of articles about storing nickels in ammo cans.  If you’re wondering why you might want to store nickels read his article here. (more…)

Survival Food Test

Rachel was cleaning out the kitchen cabinets today and came across a half used #10 can of Augason Farms Taco Flavored Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP).  TVP is a high fiber, high protein meat substitute made primarily from soy that stores very well for long periods.  I keep some of my storage food in these long term store-able dehydrated cans and buckets and from time to time I use some of this food to make sure I know how to prepare it and could survive on it if necessary.

Canned TVP reportedly has a shelf life of up to 30 years if stored properly and will keep for up to a year after opening (provided you put the little plastic can lid on it). This particular can ended up in the back of the cabinet and had been sitting there with no protection from moisture for almost two years. On hearing that she’d found it I only had one thought…’SURVIVAL FOOD TEST!’

Well, really I had two thoughts…the second thought was ‘nachos or burritos?’ I went with the burritos. (more…)

Best Emergency Dressing – The Israeli Battle Dressing

Israeli Battle Dressing in PackagingYesterday’s video on the Jackson Family’s First Aid Kit elicited a number of questions.  Most of the questions were about the Israeli Battle Dressing I mentioned as ‘the best’ battlefield dressing or first aid dressing but it really wasn’t shown in the video (it was inside a First Aid Pouch).  I was introduced to Israeli Battle Dressing during pre-deployment first aid training in 2006.  I was impressed with the battle dressing’s simplicity, versatility and effectiveness.

The Israeli Battle Dressing or Emergency Dressing can take the place of several items in your first aid kit and is purportedly the most versatile battlefield or first aid dressing in history.  It comes in 4 & 6 inch sizes and is designed with a sterile wound field (the primary dressing) backed by a sterile elastic bandage (which becomes the secondary dressing) similar to an old fashioned Ace bandages.  On the back side of the sterile wound field is a pressure applicator that allows the dressing to apply up to 30 lbs of direct pressure to the wound once it’s applied.  At the end of the long tail is ‘closure bar’ that allows the dressing to secure itself similar. (more…)

Product Review of The Ultimate Preparedness Library

It’s good to take your own advice on occasion… this past week I did something that was WAY overdue…I copied my digital preparedness library onto USB Flash Drives.

Even though I’ve been collecting information for several years I still find something new every now and then so I decided that while I was archiving my library I would see if any of my favorite sites had anything new to offer…that’s when I came across The Ultimate Preparedness Library.  I decided to take a risk (not a big one as they had a money back guarantee) and buy access to the library.

While I started off looking for a new book…what I ended up with was unlimited access to over a hundred digital titles (over 660MB) on numerous facets of preparedness and self reliance.  While I ended up with a few duplicate titles (from all those years of collecting on my own)…there were so many new titles that it was money well spent.

The Ultimate Preparedness Library is organized into 10 Categories (some books fall into multiple categories) including:

  • Food Preparedness
  • Survival Strategies
  • Defense: Self, Home, Property
  • Medical Emergencies and Prevention
  • Homesteading (more…)

Product Review: NiteIze L.E.D. Upgrade Combo II… AKA: Mini Maglite® Hack

While waiting in the checkout line at a local Big Box hardware store something on the impulse trap aisle caught my eye.  It was a little  Light Emitting Diode (L.E.D.) conversion kit for that AA Mini Maglite® that I abandoned to a drawer years ago.  I stopped using my Mini because it went through batteries like cheap dog food goes through a labrador.  This little $7.50 purchase changed my Mini to a go-to flashlight once again.  The kit has a replacement L.E.D. bulb, reflector and push-button butt cap.  The light is still focusable (pinpoint to broad) and the push-button butt-cap means I’ve got another flashlight I can use while handling my pistol.  While this upgrade won’t have me dumping my Surefire® flashlight…it sure does offer more bang for the buck and have some tactical capabilities (which my Mini didn’t have before because you had to rotate the head of the light to turn it on…sorry…no other way I could figure out to say that last bit).  Incidentally, if you didn’t like the upgrade…there are no permanent modifications so you could always change it back.  Finally, as a true test of the new L.E.D setup, I left in the anemic batteries that barely provided a glow with the Mini’s factory bulb.  Once the conversion was complete the flashlight worked like a charm with something close to the manufacturer identified 30 lumens.

Manufacturer’s Specifications for the LUC2-07 L.E.D. Upgrade Combo II:

  • 30 Lumens
  • 25 Hour Life
  • 40 Meter Range
  • Manufacturer’s Note:  Installation will void your flashlight’s Limited Lifetime Warranty

Check out the before (left) and after (right) pictures.  The sleeve is a nice product as well, I purchased it several years ago but it didn’t become very useful until I installed the butt-cap switch.


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