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 One Earth Designs Sol Source Solar Cooker. 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 and setup–which was a bit too tedious for me–but you can skip to about the 15:30 mark to see the solar oven in action…

 

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

failures-of-imaginationI was recently sent this book to review written by Congressman Michael McCaul titled Failures of Imagination: The Deadliest Threats to Our Homeland – And How to Thwart Them 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 story and working right up to the specific attack considered. He often does so from several different perspectives, that is, from the terrorists themselves to those affected by the attack.

After the scenario presented, he provides an “After-Action Report to the President” which summarizes the aftermath of each attack, usually within a few pages, explaining what happened, how authorities believe the attack was carried out, death tolls, damages, and so on.

But he’s not done…

What really makes the book stand out, in my opinion, is that he then goes on to discuss if this particular scenario could actually happen and, regrettably, he makes a very compelling case as to precisely how and why each attack could happen citing real world evidence and examples… it’s a truly chilling and sobering reminder that we are, no doubt, still at war and will be for decades to come.

Last, each chapter then discusses from a high level perspective what we can do to stop such an attack. Obviously, he doesn’t go into the minutia but offers several suggestions and recommendations regarding White House policy changes among other fixes we can and should make as a nation.

All in all, the book was good and, if I do say so myself, if his career ever goes belly-up in Congress he sure has a potential career as a novelist.

So, what does each chapter cover?

Here’s the breakdown:

Chapter 1 – Unfinished Business: A Decapitation Strike at the U.S. Capitol

Chapter 2 – The Venezuelan Connection: Hezbollah Goes Radioactive on Our Southern Border

Chapter 3 – The Manchurian Campaign: China Plots to Buy the White House (Again)

Chapter 4 – Black Friday: Massacre at the Mall of America

Chapter 5 – Going Dark: Cyberstrike on the World’s Financial Capital

Chapter 6 – The Threat We Can’t See: Bioterror in the Magic Kingdom

Chapter 7 – Final Approach: Terror in the Skies of Los Angeles on Oscar Night

Chapter 8 – North Atlantic Storm: Russia Launches a New Cold War

I won’t spoil the details of each chapter as you can get the idea reading each title; suffice it to say that six of the eight plots are focused on Islamic terrorism whereas the other two are plots from China and Russia.

The book actually made these terrorist threats real again and gave me a few more things to worry about at night. 🙁 Of course, it also offers hope… hope that we can thwart these threats to our great nation with vigilance and determination.

If you’re looking for an entertaining read covering real-world threats, this book is a good one.

As for the giveaway, if you’re interested in my hardcopy, please leave a useful comment below and after a few days I’ll randomly pick a winner. I’ll contact the winner by email and give them a day or two to respond… if I don’t hear back I’ll pick a new winner until I do get a response.

Thanks!

 

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

I was sent this BYB 300 Lumen Collapsible Lantern 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 Rayovac Sportman lantern 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:

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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:

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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 maximum brightness, like this:

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Or, just crack it if you don’t want so much light:

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I should point out that this feature is about the ONLY thing I’d prefer to see different in this lantern. That is, the fact that there is NO option for a low power setting to both reduce light emitted but also to conserve battery power. In other words, the light seems to use as much battery power whether it’s cracked or all the way extended.

The manufacturer’s description does state that it has “low power conservation”, whatever that means, but I would have preferred the option to dim the lantern myself.

How does the light stack up against the others?

Compared to the small kid-safe lanterns you can get at places like Walmart and Target for about five or six dollars, there is no comparison. The BYB lantern outshines them by far and it’s obvious:

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Though I’m a fan of the d.solar s10 lantern for the simple fact that it’s rechargeable and super lightweight, again, there is no comparison in brightness:

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Perhaps the only battery-powered lantern I have which can compare is the Rayovac Sportsman (at about 240 lumens compared to 300 lumens with the BYB):

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What are the advantages of the BYB Lantern?

For starters, it’s relatively lightweight. It weighs about as much as the little kid-friendly lanterns but significantly less than the Rayovac (especially when the batteries are inserted).

Which reminds me, the BYB lanterns runs off only 3 AA-batteries, a huge plus when it comes to having to scrounge for batteries to keep it running. 😉 The Rayovac, on the other hand, uses D-cells which can be a pain to stock and/or find in a pinch.

And, did I mention the BYB lantern is waterproof? Well, almost waterproof…

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I submerged it in my sink for a good hour to test that claim and, yes, the lantern still worked just fine after pulling it out. However, the globe was half-filled with water so I won’t say that it’s watertight but it’s certainly good enough to not worry about the lantern functioning out in the rain or if it takes an unexpected dip in the lake.

I was going to take a picture of the globe half-filled with water but by the time I’d thought to go grab the camera the water had mostly drained out and so I didn’t bother.

Anyway, after the water drained I popped the batteries back in and the lantern worked great. I did notice, however, that condensation remained inside the lantern that refused to go away so I had to remove that with some air and heat. No big deal.

Also, being that it collapses in on itself there’s no worry about the globe breaking. I was slightly hesitant that, because it simply slid open to turn on, one *might* inadvertently turn on the lantern if jostled but after playing with it for a while I’d say it’s no more likely (perhaps less so) than accidentally pressing a button or flipping a switch on any of my other lanterns. Besides, a rubber-band or two around the handles would help to keep it from opening… and I could just take the batteries out while in transit.

How long does it run?

That’s about the only question I’ve yet to fully answer. I couldn’t find anything online about battery life so I ran the lantern 24 hours straight on a set of batteries that I doubt were fully charged and it was still going strong. That’s good news because it seems I could easily run this for a week on a set of batteries if I ran it for 4 or 5 hours a night.

So, we’ve covered that it’s relatively compact (a bit larger than a can of beans), fairly lightweight (among the lighter options), uses AA batteries (which are easy to scrounge), is quite bright (the brightest lantern, in fact), runs for a long time on one set of batteries (I still don’t know quite how long)… did I mention it’s affordable?

At a current price of $14, the BYB Lantern is nearly half the cost of the Rayovac Sportsman. That’s hard to beat.

If you’re looking for a solid camping lantern, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one…

 

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

lights-outI was sent the book Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath 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.

For starters, the book is divided into three distinct sections: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, and Surviving the Aftermath.

We’ll take them one by one…

A Cyberattack

The first section is, in my opinion, by far the most important to read if you want to understand the scope and gravity of the threat of cyberattack.

This is where Koppel discusses just how vulnerable our nation’s power grid is, where the weakest links in the system are, the players involved (from generating power to final distribution), who might be most willing and able to attack, and how they might do so.

Though I realized we were vulnerable from my own research, I didn’t fully understand the intricacies… the “nuts and bolts” if you will of how we could be attacked. I actually learned quite a bit about how our power grid is vulnerable from his in-depth explanations and I was thankful for the time he took to cover it all.

In these chapters Koppel explains just how insane (my description) things really are.

For example, he points out that at a Black Hat hackers conference in 2011, one hacker managed to break the Siemens “super secret” password they use to gain entry to each of their thousands of SCADA software deployments (what most of the power stations are run on) with ease. Siemens had to go around and change the password on EVERY installation as a result.

Using the same password is so 2005! Gee, I wonder how secure this software still is only a few years later? If they’re still using ONE password… not very secure I can assure you.

He discusses how there’s an ever-increasing need for government regulation to better secure the grid but is often met by a constant push-back from industry to be free of regulation, driven, of course, by profit motives which are apparently quite thin for smaller power companies and precisely the reason why many of these smaller facilities are the most vulnerable to cyberattack. He actually spends quite a bit of time on this topic, one that I don’t feel will ever be answered to anyone’s satisfaction, let alone America’s need to secure the grid.

In this section, Koppel also talks about the odds of an attack, provides examples of how cyberattacks have taken place in the past (there are many), as well as who has the capability and motive to attack us. If one stops to consider just how easy it might be for a rogue hacker group (say from Russia or China) to disable at least a major portion of the grid should they put their minds to it… most would choose to get prepared in short order.

A Nation Unprepared

In this relatively short second section, Koppel interviews folks from two main organizations: FEMA and the Red Cross. It was actually quite interesting to read their responses to the potential for a nationwide power failure and, honestly, I kept expecting more concrete answers but never got one.

As Koppel continued to press the issue, basically saying “what would YOUR organization do if we had a nation-wide grid failure?” their answers were lacking to say the least.

Ultimately they don’t have a viable plan for a national response. In fairness, how could they?

Government and relief organizations have shown time and again that they cannot fully respond to regional disasters appropriately… a national disaster on the scale that a cyberattack would bring is many times more challenging than anything they’ve faced thus far… it’s a lose/lose situation for any agency expected to respond to such a catastrophe and Koppel makes it clear we don’t have a plan as a nation.

Surviving the Aftermath

I was hoping to find chapter after chapter of advice as to what YOU, as an individual, can and should do to better prepare yourself for just such a threat. That wasn’t the case.

Disappointed as I was, this section was still an interesting read as Koppel reported on the various juxtapositions of cultures between, say, folks living in a big city such as New York versus a small town in Wyoming. He asked how prepared each area might be for such a calamity (as if that’s not obvious), what folks might do if pressed to either evacuate or take in refugees (a currently appropriate topic), and how both agencies and individuals might respond during a cyberattack.

Beyond that, Kopppel also dives headfirst into the world of preparedness, generally painting us preppers in a favorable light, which was nice to hear.

He visits a few preparedness expos and gets a taste of the costs involved in prepping and quickly realized there’s some profits to be made there. 🙂 He also visits a few families who have taken their prepping to another level than most of us (think Doomsday Preppers), talks with folks who consider self-reliance a way of life, and actually spends quite a bit of time discussing the Mormons’ philosophy on preparedness… if only every major religion would follow their lead.

Ultimately, in his book Lights Out, Koppel keeps looking for a national answer to the threat of a cyberattack which is, of course, a big part of the solution but never quite hits home with what you and I should do prepare ourselves for an attack.

That’s ok, though. Preparing you and your family is my job (one I’m failing at this year) as well as that of the many survival bloggers out there.

If you want to truly understand the threat of cyberattack I couldn’t recommend Mr. Koppel’s book more. It’s an eye-opening look into a threat most American’s don’t even know exists but can and will change their lives for good in a split-second.

You, however, have the chance to prepare yourself now. Please take the opportunity to do so.

OxyLED Q6 Smart Rechargeable LED Flashlight Review

I received this OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern 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:

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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 d.light LED Solar Area Lantern which is without a doubt the lightest actual lantern I own (mostly since it doesn’t use any batteries). Overall dimensions are 8″ x 1.3″.

There really isn’t much to the light. On one side is the light, the other side is shielded. There’s also two lanyards that you can attach to the ends of the the light:

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On one end you’ll find a mini USB port for charging the light and a small button that acts as the on/off and brightness selection button:

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Battery / Charging

The battery is expected to last 3 to 72 hours depending on mode selected. The life of the light is expected to be >36,000 hours but that’s assuming 2% brightness and/or 500 charges. Honestly, this light should last for years of use camping, hiking, or for preparedness.

If it wasn’t clear, the light is mean to be rechargeable and does NOT use or take external batteries. To charge the light simply plug into a computer/laptop or portable powerbank and a few hours later you’re back in business. While charging there’s a small red led that blinks next to the USB port. When fully charged the led stays solid red. If the battery is getting low the red led will blink fast three times when cycling during use. It’s all really easy.

Cycling Through Modes

As for use, you simply cycle through the settings using the on/off button. These settings are: dim (2% of full brightness), normal (50% of full brightness), bright (75% of full brightness), and supernova (100% of full brightness). There’s also a flashing mode which, like all lights that include them, is annoying. I still have no idea why anybody thinks that’s useful… unless you’re a bicyclist perhaps.

I do want to point out that I feel there’s at least one cycle that’s not needed, most likely the 75% brightness mode as it just makes you have to cycle through one more setting than needed. Again, I would do without the blinking mode too. Now, I do like the dim (2% brightness) mode quite a bit and I do like that it’s the first mode when cycled on.

The difference in brightness between modes is readily discernible, a problem that many LED lights seem to have. In other words, some lights are difficult to tell if it’s on low, high, or something else… this one is easy to tell.

You can also hold down the on/off button for two seconds to get it to turn off rather than cycling through the modes.

Handling

Overall, it’s quite comfortable to hold. With a lanyard around your wrist you shouldn’t drop the light but it would have been nice if the lanyards were adjustable. Beyond that, you can slip it in your pocket and probably have a bit of it sticking out but not too bad. With the provided lanyards you can even hang it easily. Here’s the light hanging from a hanger in my boy’s closet (the darkest room in the house) and on dim mode:

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Some Concerns

I can say that I was at first concerned that the on/off button was so small and barely sticks out beyond the end of the light. After days of use this is no longer a concern as it’s easier to push and cycle than I originally feared but I’d imagine that if you’re in a hurry to turn on the light it’s not the easiest of buttons to find simply by feel.

If for some reason a lanyard breaks the small attachment points are not wide enough to, for example, fish paracord though as a replacement. You would have to remove a single strand of paracord and fish that through. I can see why they made the eyelets so small (to keep them from snagging) but it would have been nice to somehow make them larger and/or include a folding attachment option to one or both ends. No big deal, just something I noticed.

It’s not rated for getting wet, even in the rain. In fairness, none of the lanterns I own are rated for that. With that in mind, the OxyLED is put together in such a way as I would be surprised if it couldn’t withstand a good amount of rain before giving out. I haven’t tried it, that’s just a guess.

Brightness

This is where the  OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern really “shines” through, if you will. I compared it to a few other lanterns that I have, including an inexpensive Dorcy Mini LED Lantern which runs on 4 AA batteries and is great for kids, the d.light LED Solar Area Lantern which is solar recharged, and the Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern which runs on 3 D-cell batteries.

Overall, I was quite surprised at how bright even the dim setting was. In fact, it was as bright as the AA-cell Dorcy if not brighter (Dorcy is on left, OxyLED is on right):

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I did other comparisons, even comparing full brightness modes to the Rayvac D-cell (Rayovac is on the left, OxyLED on the right):

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Granted, the OxyLED disperses light differently than a traditional lantern and I know it’s a bit difficult to tell but I’d say the OxyLED might even have been brighter than the Rayovac. Technically, that’s not true (the OxyLED is 200 lumens whereas the Rayvac is 240 lumens) but it sure seems that way. Beyond that, the OxyLED isn’t going to last nearly as long as the Rayovac on a single charge but I was surprised at the brightness nonetheless.

Overall, I currently have no problem recommending an OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern  to you for the price. It seems to be a well-built, compact, rechargeable light that I’ll happily take camping and hiking time and again.

oxyled-featured

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, Last Stand. 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 Last Stand: Warlords. The other two are Last Stand: Surviving America’s Collapse and Last Stand: Patriots 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 sense. Here, read my review of the first book so you can get a sense of the series. For some reason I can’t seem to find a review of the second book, maybe I didn’t write one but I did read the book.

Anyway, the story continues to follow the main character, John Mack, as he takes charge of various groups of people to unite them against common enemies in each book, this time against foreign troops who have invaded and are pushing across the United States with a quickness. Through both fortune and determination, John and his people struggle to push them back all while trying to survive a post-collapse world.

Last Stand: Warlords
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Last Stand: Warlords, like the others, always has an unexpected twist or two as well as plenty of good prepping tips and tricks that will surely make you smile throughout.

Obviously, there’s a certain sadness too as it plays out scenarios that are certainly a possibility in the near future, as grim as they may be. Regardless, if you’re looking for a fun survival book to read this weekend, pick up a copy of Weber’s Last Stand books. If you would prefer Kindle books you can get them immediately and for less money too.

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Book Giveaway

William Weber sent me a copy of Last Stand: Patriots (the second book in the series) for helping him review it before being published and since I’ve already read it I figured I would offer the book to you fine folks.

Simply submit a comment below and I’ll pick a random winner to send the book to after the coming weekend. Remember, this is the SECOND book in the series so you’d need to read the first one if you haven’t yet done so.

If you’re the winner I’ll email you requesting your shipping address and, if I haven’t heard from you after a reasonable amount of time, I’ll move on and pick a new winner.

Thanks!

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

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I was recently sent this book The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out (as a Kindle edition) 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 concur! At over 200+ pages it’s a relatively fast read but also quite interesting too. Here, take a look at the table of contents:

  • Getting Your Bearings
  • Bagging Treasures
  • Shanking – Scalpels & Box Cutters
  • Gloving Up and Cutting Down
  • Stitching up Sorrows – Sutures & Suture Material
  • Pilfering Pills & Pen Lights
  • Picking up Pickups & Forceps
  • Taping Life Back Together
  • Slinging Back Splints & Swaths
  • Finding Needles & Syringes in a Haystack
  • Intravenous Needles & Catheters for the Home and Office
  • The Science of Looting & Sterilizing
  • Special Supplies for Common Injuries
  • Wounding Abscesses
  • Lacerations & Skin Injuries – Anesthesia & Irrigation
  • Lacerations & Skin Injuries – Stitches & Equipment
  • Handling Flesh
  • Super-gluing Americans & Stapling Soviets
  • Crushing Runners Toe
  • Burns
  • Shanking & Shotgunning – Treating Projectile Wounds
  • Field Sterilization & Sanitation
  • Making Potable Water
  • Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke
  • Dealing with Cold Injuries – Hypothermia & Frostbite
  • Wet & Dry Gangrene
  • Sprains, Strains & Automobiles
  • Breaking Bones Bad
  • Insects & Arachnids
  • Cellulitis & Bacteria Eating Flesh
  • Snakes & Drunks Playing with Snakes
  • Plants from Hell – Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac
  • Fish Antibiotics – “Fish-i-cillin”
  • Colds, Sore Throats, & Common Infections
  • Poisoning Food
  • Clubbing Depression
  • Felling Better When You’re Sick

There’s also ten appendices mostly about types of suture techniques but the real heart of the book is in the wisdom found throughout. Time and again Dr. Chamberlin offers loads of practical advice as to what you can and should do when confronted with many common and expected first aid scenarios.

Not only does the book provide common sense advice as to what should be done for typical first aid problem but there are plenty of text boxes scattered throughout the book that offer unexpected alternatives to necessary medical equipment and supplies, many of which can be found in the average home, pet stores, and elsewhere.

The really interesting thing is that the advice comes from the perspective of somebody bugging out and having to scavenge a home or business for these items…. as is stated in the title, no less. 😉

Most of the advice is spot on and great but a few times I wondered to myself how in the world that would work out. For instance, one suggestion is to ask your doctor for a few scalpels for your emergency kit the next time you visit. If your doctor knows you well then maybe this is no problem but if you don’t know your doctor well then he or she may well wonder about such a request… I know I would feel a bit strange asking. Of course, I haven’t tried so what do I know!

Regardless, the VAST majority of the book is great advice and I guarantee I learned quite a bit more than I thought I would. As an example, I never realized that there’s such a huge difference in the efficacy of disposable gloves for preventing contamination from diseases caused by bacteria and viruses… I always figured that vinyl gloves were simply invented because people were allergic to latex gloves but, sadly, they are quite inferior!

Anyway, that’s just a few tidbits from the first two or three chapters. I learned so much more from the rest of the book… I’m positive you will too.

Ultimately, what I liked most about The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out (or as a Kindle edition) beyond common sense advice was Dr. Chamberlin’s honesty and subtle humor both of which surely made the book a great read.

My advice is to add this book to your survival library ASAP!!

 

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

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I was sent this SunJack Solar Charger not long ago for review along with the SunJack CampLight (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:

SunJack Solar Charger Comparison to iPad

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 that it actually put out a decent amount of light, enough to illuminate our bedroom as shown below and plenty to read by if you’re close enough (this is is near pitch black and with the camera flash off):

SunJack CampLight Demo

I should point out that I then tried to charge my iPhone after the ten hour CampLight experiment and was able to get a bit more juice out of the battery but it eventually died. No big deal. I then choose to try and charge it from my computer to see how that went… uhm, don’t do that. It was SUPER slow!

I do want to quickly point out one slight annoyance and that’s the provided cable that goes between the connection to the solar panels and the battery. As you can see from the photo below the cable is short, way too short if you ask me. I actually had to move the battery down from where it’s supposed to be retained so I don’t stress the connections:

SunJack Solar Charger Wiring

This was easily remedied by replacing the cable with a longer one and, of course, you don’t have to keep the battery in the sleeve while charging but I like things nice and tidy. 😉

Anyway, the next day I wanted to know how well the panels worked to power my iPhone without using the battery and so I took the SunJack outside, strung it up on my deck railing with some paracord and the provided carabiners, connect my iPhone and streamed some music:

SunJack Solar Charger Being Used

The SunJack solar charger worked like a champ and charged my phone fast. I then wanted to stress the panels and so I connected my iPad too and let them charge both at the same time. Because the iPad has a much larger battery the charging slowed down substantially but still managed to charge the iPhone and slowly charged the iPad but it probably would have taken all day to do so.

I think you can also charge the included battery while also running other equipment but I didn’t bother to try that.

A few things to note that I haven’t yet:

  • The SunJack panel comes with two USB outputs for charging more than one device at a time
  • The battery comes with two USB outputs as well but one output delivers 1 amp and the other delivers 2 amps (for charging things like tablets and iPads) which is a nice feature
  • The battery has approximate charge indicators with blue flashing lights and will blink two lights at a time when low on charge
  • The battery includes a small light that may keep you from tripping over your sneakers but not much more

I did notice that there are very similar portable solar panels such as this Anker® 14W Solar Panel. The thing is that the Anker panel is about half the price of the SunJack panel but does NOT include a battery which is certainly necessary, in my opinion. That said, it wouldn’t be a big deal to purchase a portable power bank such as this EasyAcc 10000mAh External Battery and include it with the Anker panel. For the cost you could purchase both the Anker and EasyAcc battery for less than $100 and have similar capabilities.

To be clear, I don’t know if there are very serious technical or quality differences between the SunJack and Anker panels but they sure do look a lot alike.

Overall, I’m a fan of the SunJack Solar Charger.

As a camping/hiking portable power charger (and definitely as a bug out option) I like this charger a lot.

It’s compact, not ridiculously heavy, charges fast, and has enough standby power to charge the devices I would need charged when on the move during a disaster.

Ultimately, I have no problem recommending the SunJack solar charger to you, though, I would research the possibility of combing the Anker Panel and EasyAcc Battery (or similar) as a lesser expensive option.

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 The Survival Medicine Handbook.

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 in a SHTF situation. They don’t throw in a lot of jargon and just talk to you like a normal person.

Even better, the Alton’s tell if you should or should not do something and what to expect as much as they can. I also like the fact that they try to point out alternative treatments (those outside the accepted Western medical philosophy) where it makes sense. After all, this is about all we’re going to have left if/when the SHTF.

There are occasional picture, photos, and diagrams throughout to help with understanding a topic if needed. Moreover, everything is easily referenced so that you can quickly find any major topic of concern. Overall, the second edition of the The Survival Medicine Handbook is a MUST-have book… in your prepping library even if you already have the first.

Please do yourself a favor: if you don’t yet have either the first or second edition then by all means, spend the money and buy the second edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook. If there’s ONE topic that most of us in the prepping community fall way short on, it’s medical preparedness. Once you get it, spend a few days or weeks reading and then do your best to follow their advice to get you and your family (or group) as prepared as possible for life without proper medical support. If there’s anyone that can help you do that, it’s the Alton’s.

The Survival Medicine Handbook

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 Champ Bodyguard Battery, here’s the description from Amazon: “The Champ E-prep Bodyguard Battery with Rechargeable Power Bank is perfect emergency power supply. This power bank charges devices through a USB port and is perfect for giving juice back to a dead phone or tablet. It has High-efficiency output for fast charging with the capacity to completely charge a phone, giving 8 hours of phone calls. This power bank also comes with a built in flashlight to illuminate any dark place. It also has a siren to help alert nearby people for assistance…”

As you can read from the above, it’s more than a power bank and includes a handy light and siren too. Here’s my take…

Let me start with the siren: I wish they didn’t even bother. It’s virtually useless. I know they were trying to make this more of an emergency tool but the siren is simply not loud enough to draw real concern (in my opinion) from others. It was so obnoxious that I actually glued the switch in place with krazy glue. It’s much better now. 😉

The light, however, is a nice feature and is actually bright enough to see relatively well in a small dark room, such as a bathroom or closet. Outside it provides enough light to not trip over any rocks while walking around in the pitch dark but it’s no substitute for a quality flashlight.

Now, the actual point in the Champ Bodyguard Battery is the recharge capability. The battery has a capacity of 2200 mAh which is plenty to recharge a typical iPhone battery completely (an iPhone 4 battery is about 1400 mAh) assuming the Bodyguard battery is fully charged, of course. I should note that as power banks go this battery capacity is on the low end of the spectrum. You can get power banks that are significantly larger and for less money.

Ultimately, I wanted to like the Champ Bodyguard Battery because it does two important jobs for you in one relatively small package: recharge a cell phone and provide some lighting. The problem is that there are much less expensive options that perform both functions better. In fact, I can purchase an Anker Astro battery pack, a Cree flashlight, and a package of AA batteries for the flashlight and still have a bit left over. The choice, ultimately, is yours to make.

Champ Bodyguard Battery
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