Category: Gear Reviews

Reviews of survival tools and gear I own

Cooking With The “Solar Death Ray”

If you’ve been following my blog for years now you may remember when I used to post about my sun oven cooking experiments… I miss those days. 🙂 Sadly, all of the large trees around my house tend to block out most of the sunshine and so my lack of willingness to work around that problem has caused me to find other uses for my time.

Fortunately, other folks carry the torch so-to-speak. Today, Wranglerstar does so and he does it with flare using the . I found it funny that his kid calls it a “Solar Death Ray” about twenty seconds in which I thought may seem to be a great way to describe this type of solar cooker to a young boy, lol. Henceforth is shall be named the “Solar Death Ray.”

Since it’s a huge parabolic solar mirror you could, of course, use this for more than just cooking. It could be a great way to start tinder for a fire, perhaps as a signaling device, to extend or amplify a light source, and much more.

Most of the video is of assembly

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Posted in Equipment / Supplies, Gear Reviews, Water / Food

(Giveaway) Failures of Imagination: “The Deadliest Threats to Our Homeland” Book Review

I was recently sent this book to review written by Congressman Michael McCaul titled and I must, this was a good book!

Congressman McCaul also happens to be the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and is, therefore, someone we should pay close attention to.

In fact, the author had a very interesting writing style and one that I appreciated quite a bit. That is, rather than being a good, yet monotone discussion of terrorism such as with the book Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared  by Ted Koppel that I recently read, this particular book was written to both entertain and educate and do so in a very unique way.

In fact, the author wrote the book as if it were eight separate short stories which kept the book fresh. Each chapter dealt with a new potential terrorist threat, from dirty bombs to mall shootings and more, I was intrigued with each turn of the page.

You see, Congressman McCaul starts each chapter as if it were a novel, delving right into the heart of the

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Posted in Defense / Security / Safety, Everything Else, Gear Reviews

BYB 300 Lumen Collapsible Lantern Review – What a Nice Light!

I was sent this a while back for review and I can start by saying that, for the price, I was very impressed. In fact, this light *may* end up being my go-to battery-powered camping and emergency light from hereon out.

Although I’ve long been a fan of the for it’s longevity and relative brightness, this BYB lantern has several distinct advantages over the Rayovac, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As with any review it’s best to have some comparisons, so here’s the BYB lantern next to a few of my other battery-powered lanterns I keep around:

You’ll notice it’s relatively small, about the size of the smaller “kid-friendly” lantern on the left. It’s really no much bigger than a typical can of vegetables:

At first, I wasn’t too keen on a lantern that didn’t have an on/off button or switch. Instead, you just slide it up and after it’s raised about a half inch or so the lantern comes on. Pull it all the way up to get

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Posted in Gear Reviews, Lighting / Communications

Lights Outs: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared by Ted Koppel Book Review

I was sent the book by Ted Koppel to review.

Seeing as though it’s a subject I recently researched myself, I jumped at the chance… and I wasn’t disappointed.

I can say that I was pleasantly surprised to see a well-respected journalist tackling a “fringe” topic such as a cyberattack and ultimately preparedness as well. Perhaps the world is waking up to the stark reality we live in but it will take more than a book to wake up the nation… it WILL take a major attack.

Ok, so how about the book?

The book, as you might have rightfully guessed, is about the potential threat of a cyberattack on our nation’s power grid, a threat that few American’s, let alone our government, take seriously.

Ted Koppel does a fine job of making the case for getting prepared for just such an event and I do hope you take the time to read his book.

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Posted in Gear Reviews

OxyLED Q6 Smart Rechargeable LED Flashlight Review

I received this  for review and I can honestly say that I was surprised at how useful of a light it’s turning out to be.

Thought I have many lights–in the form of flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps–I’ve never had a flashlight like this, in that, it’s sort of like a lantern but it only illuminates 180 degrees. The best I can describe it is like a self-contained handheld fluorescent light that you would otherwise hang from the ceiling of a garage or workshop… that’s how I see it, anyway.

For starters, here’s some specs on the light from Amazon:

  • 4 brightness settings (dim, normal, bright, and supernova) + a blinking flash mode
  • High-power natural spectrum led provide 200 lumens of illumination, CRI(color rendering index)>70
  • Built-in long life rechargeable battery with Mini USB cable
  • Durable, drop resistant construction; Long Life, Energy saving, Rated for 36,000 hours of use

Now, the OxyLED came delivered in a rather sturdy box that reminds me of a long-neck matchstick box. In fact, it makes a good carrying case:

The first thing I noticed when I removed the light from the box was how lightweight it was. The stats say it weighs in at a mere 4.2 ounces which is among the lightest (if not the lightest) flashlight I own. I think it weighs even less than the which is without

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Posted in Gear Reviews, Lighting / Communications, Whatever Wednesdays

Last Stand: Warlords – Fun Survival Book Review! + Giveaway!!

Thus far I’ve had a chance to read and review all three of William Weber’s exciting survival book series, . It’s been a fun, interesting, and continuous read and, in fact, the Last Stand series has been the ONLY fiction books I’ve read in years.

Weber’s newest addition to the Last Stand series is titled simply . The other two are  and  in that order.

According to the Amazon description:

“Tormented by a past he can’t forget, Mayor John Mack is about to face the toughest fight of his life. The tiny town of Oneida, still reeling from the Chairman’s violent overthrow, stands in the crosshairs of the foreign armies threatening at any moment to push across the Mississippi river. With the country fragmented and on the brink of military collapse, John will need to dig deeper than ever in order to help defend his loved ones and the town he swore to protect.”

If you haven’t read the other books then that description won’t make much

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Posted in Gear Reviews

The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out

I was recently sent this book  (as a ) to review. I quickly obliged.

First, so you understand the book, here’s the Amazon description:

“In the two hours it takes to read our book, you’ll learn more about survival medicine, and feel more comfortable handling emergencies, than ever before. Our guide is not about stabilizing injuries until help arrives. It’s about learning to treat injuries and illnesses definitively. It’s a confidence builder, and we guarantee it to be one of the most valuable resources in your prepper bookshelf! Welcome to the 2nd edition of The Prepper Pages! In this edition we’ve added image and video links for quick and easy reference. Written by a Trauma Surgeon and contributing physicians, doctors of ThePrepperPages.com are obsessed with teaching you easy, effective treatments for medical conditions preppers most worry about. Conditions we’re all likely to face when the world and everything in it goes sideways…”

I definitely

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Posted in Gear Reviews, Medical / First Aid

SunJack Solar Charger and CampLight: Perfect Camping and Bug Out Power and Lighting Solution!

I was sent this  not long ago for review along with the  (sold separately).

Since then I had the opportunity to test out the SunJack Solar Charger (and CampLight) a bit since then I can say that I’m quite impressed.

Granted, I’ve never owned a portable solar panel like this one so this is coming from somebody who has no experience with a portable solar charger. I do, however, have some experience with solar panels.

The SunJack Solar Charger

FYI, here’s some specs so you know what we’re talking about:

  • The 14 Watt SunJack comes with an 8,000mAh battery with 2 amp output that gives you enough power to charge four iPhones after 5 hours in the sun
  • The battery can also charge from any standard micro-USB plug and can output
  • The SunJack is able to get more electrons flowing into the battery faster than any solar charger available
  • The battery also is able to take in a full 2 amp charge from the solar cells, and discharge a full 2 amps – which allows for very rapid energy storage unlike anything else available.
  • The efficiency ~19%, which is higher than average. Weight 2.3 lbs.

So you know, the SunJack solar charger is approximately the same length and width as an iPad but significantly thicker due to the four solar panels that get folded up inside the convenient carrying case. Here’s a comparison of it to my iPad 2:

The first thing I was curious about was the CampLight so I decided to connect it straight to the battery without having bothered to charge it first. I let the CampLight run for almost 10 hours overnight and it was still going! I was surprised

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Posted in Equipment / Supplies, Gear Reviews, Lighting / Communications, Whatever Wednesdays

The Survival Medicine Handbook 2nd Edition, Revised, Expanded… and Awesome!

To be clear, I’m a HUGE fan of the Alton’s. Joe and Amy have done a wonderful service to the prepping community over the years and I can’t say enough good things about anything and everything they’ve ever done. Really! They know their stuff and it certainly shows with their revised an expanded edition of the .

I actually purchased, read, and reviewed their first edition quite a while ago and couldn’t have been happier. Amazingly, they did even more with it in this book. And at a good 500+ pages of quality information, you’re going to be a while reading the new and improved Survival Medicine Handbook. 😉

The Survival Medicine Handbook Contents

If you’re unaware, the book covers a wide variety of medical and first aid topics, including:

  • their thoughts on being medically prepared (wilderness medicine, long term survival medicine, etc)
  • becoming the “go to” medical resource in your group (assessments, skills, supplies, etc)
  • hygiene and sanitation concerns (food and waterborne illnesses, diarrhea diseases, food poisoning, etc)
  • infections (they cover the big ones such as UTI’s, hepatitis, cellulitis, tetanus, etc)
  • environmental concerns (e.g., hypothermia, heat stroke, radiation sickness, biological warfare, etc)
  • assorted injuries (wound treatment, burn treatment, animal/snake bites, sprains/strains and broken bones, etc)
  • chronic conditions (diabetes, blood pressure, kidney stones, etc
  • other things to know (CPR, eye care, earaches, childbirth and pregnancy, etc)
  • medications (OTC meds, pain meds, antibiotics, etc)

I do REALLY like the fact that they take an honest and no-nonsense approach to such a difficult and important topic. They never speak down to you (it’s more like down to earth) and try to explain the God’s-honest truth about what you can expect

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Posted in Gear Reviews, Medical / First Aid

Champ Bodyguard Battery: Power Bank, Flashlight, Siren

It seems that small portable power banks are all the rage these days and to an extent they should be. After all, they can be used to recharge one of your most useful assets during an emergency: the cell phone.

Now, I know there are people who say you shouldn’t rely on a cell phone and that’s true, assuming it’s the ONLY tool you have to perform the functions it can do. IMO, a cell phone should be one of many tools in your arsenal. Anyway, the point is that in order to keep the cell phone going when you need it the most, you’re going to want a power bank that you can take with you.

If you’re unaware, a power bank is simply a small device that can be used to charge USB electronics–most typically a cell phone–but in some cases it might be powerful enough to charge a tablet.

The Champ Bodyguard Battery

As for this , here’s the description from Amazon: “The Champ E-prep Bodyguard Battery with Rechargeable Power Bank is perfect emergency power supply. This power bank

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Posted in Gear Reviews, Lighting / Communications, Whatever Wednesdays