20 Survival Gift Ideas for Any Budget

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For the sharpshooter looking for the best “bang for their buck” to preppers who want to find a great deal on their next knife, we’ve compiled a list of high-quality, affordable gear that anyone can purchase — either for themselves or a gift for their ever-diligent friends and family members… but, let’s be honest, we both know it’s for you, lol.

In this list, we’ll cover knives, firearm attachments and accessories, survival watches and camping supplies. Let’s start with the basics:

Knives Under $100

Whether out in the wild or deep in a city, you may have to navigate many obstacles that require the use of a knife. A such, it should be something dependable that won’t break or quickly dull, and you need something relatively inexpensive that meets their expectations.

Here are some quality blades that are under $100.

1. KA-BAR USMC Knife ~$75

With a recognizable design that continued to dominate for decades after its debut, the KA-BAR USMC Knife deserves its good reputation. At a length of 11.875 inches and a weight of 11.2 ounces, this classic model feels good in the hand and works well in the field. For those who want utility as well as an attractive aesthetic, buyers can choose between a Kraton and leather handle.

2. Gerber LMF II ~$80

The Gerber LMF II is a smart choice for those who want to stay within their budget without sacrificing quality. With a total length of 10.6 inches and a weight of 11.7 ounces, this is a small and lightweight knife made of 420H stainless steel, a robust material that’s rust-resistant and durable. Designed by a former member of the military, who could expect anything less?

3. KA-BAR Becker BK22 Companion ~$80

Another excellent contribution from KA-BAR, the Becker BK22 Companion is a favorite among both new and experienced preppers. At an overall length of 10.5 inches and a weight of one pound, this knife is on the heavier side. But its ergonomic design accounts for this, offering easy handling of a dependable carbon steel blade with strong wear and corrosion resistance.

Knives Over $100

For those who are willing to spend a little more for their knives, here are additional options above $100.

1. ESEE 6P ~$120

Of all the knives in ESEE’s inventory, the 6P is one of the finest, an excellent addition to any belt. At 11.75 inches long with a weight of 12 ounces, the 6P has considerable size and heft for those who are expecting heavy use. And with a wide selection of different color options, buyers can customize the knife to fit the style of the prepper they’re purchasing for.

2. Tom Brown Tracker T-3 ~$250

Though this model is on the pricier end of the scale, users of the Tom Brown Tracker T-3 will find that the cost is well within reason. At 10.75 inches long with a weight of 13.26 ounces, it’s not as lightweight as the other options in this list. That said, those who enjoy a truly unique design will find the appearance of the T-3 appealing, and its serrated back edge provides extra utility.

Firearm Attachments and Accessories Under $100

A reliable firearm is an absolute necessity for anyone serious about prepping. If the prepper in your life has a license and a weapon but lacks a good attachment, consider one of the products below as a potential gift. There’s something for everyone with all of the choices available.

We’ll start on the lower end of the spectrum with attachments and accessories under $100, then work our way up.

1. XS Sight Systems Standard Dot Tritium Night Sight ~$60

For those who prefer handguns as their weapon of choice, those with an S&W or Ruger model will benefit from the Standard Dot Tritium Night Sight. No batteries necessary, this attachment uses well-balanced luminescence to make targeting easy and intuitive, doing away with sights that are overly bright and counter-intuitive.

2. VGS Precision Gamma 556 Muzzle Brake ~$60

With a simple attachment, owners of an AR-15 can reduce recoil and muzzle rise. The VGS Precision Gamma 556 Muzzle Brake has a dual function, classified as a brake with the attributes of a compensator. Offering the best of both worlds, this product is an excellent addition that enhances the user’s accuracy while improving the look and feel of the weapon.

3. VLTOR IMOD Improved Modular Stock ~$80

To say this stock is “improved” is something of an understatement. From its utility on the battlefield to practical applications, the VLTOR IMOD Improved Modular Stock goes one step beyond. Waterproof side battery compartments, multiple sling attachments and a rolled/angled butt-pad with a wide traction area make this a must-have product for any AR-15 owner.

Firearm Attachments and Accessories Over $100

If there’s extra room in your budget, consider these options in the $100 range.

1. Bushnell TRS-25 Hi-Rise AR Optics ~$100

An optics component for an AR-15 can greatly enhance a shooter’s accuracy, you will appreciate this attachment. With several power settings, a 3 MOA red dot, multi-coated optics and a high contrast, amber-bright lens coating, you’ll get more than your money’s worth. Regardless of ambient light, the optics self-adjust, letting the user focus on what’s important, like the target.

2. LUTH-AR Modular Buttstock Assembly ~$130

The LUTH-AR Modular Buttstock Assembly allows users to customize their weapon, adjusting the stock’s pull length and weld height for maximum comfort. The ambidextrous nature of the stock makes it an excellent gift for both new and experienced shooters looking to improve their arsenal, helping their accuracy and performance on the range. At only 1.26 pounds, this item is a small addition that can make a big difference.

Survival Watches Under $200

Knives and firearms are great, but there are additional necessities that no prepper should do without. One of these standard items is a survival watch, something functional and durable that can take a beating in any weather or circumstance.

Here are several quality options for under $200.

1. Timex T49612 Expedition Trail Series ~$110

Though the quality is what you would expect from a watch that’s a little over $100, the Timex T49612 is an excellent choice for those on a very strict budget. With good shock resistance and a waterproof design, you can take the watch anywhere without fear of damage. And the Indiglo lighting feature, unique to the Timex brand, uses different electro-luminescent lamps for multiple levels of lighting.

2. Casio Gw7900b-1 G-Shock Black Solar Sport Watch ~$90-$150

A classic brand, Casio has a commitment to value. The Sport Watch model doesn’t stray from this commitment at an affordable price point, carrying many of the same features as its competitors. With excellent reliability, the solar-charged batteries can last up to nine months without needing a charge, and the waterproof design allows you to traverse any kind of environment.

3. Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch ~$150

A large name in electronics, it’s no surprise that Casio has more than one item on this list. Similar to their Gw7900b-1 model, the multi-function model comes with a barometer and altimeter as well as a feature that displays the temperature. Users of this model also have access to a fully automated calendar pre-programmed until 2099, making this a truly dynamic gadget.

Survival Watches Over $200

If you’re willing to stretch your budget, here’s a few quality watches over $200.

1. Seiko Sun007 Kinetic Wrist Watch ~$250

The kinetic design of the model charges it without the need for sun or batteries, using the movement of the user’s wrist to draw energy. This is an attractive bonus for those who live in areas that see very little sunlight and can’t rely on it to power their equipment. That said, this product has fewer features than many less expensive models, but depending on location, its kinetic function has significant value.

2. Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive Watch Bj7000-52e ~$300-$400

Though the price may prove a barrier to entry for some, for those with flexibility in their budget, the Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive Watch Bj7000-52e provides both impressive functionality and incredible durability. With the inclusion of a slide rule, users can perform complex calculations and convert different units of measurement, which can prove useful in situations where precision is necessary.

Camping Supplies Under $50

You may have to endure prolonged periods of time in the wilderness, away from the dangers of a collapsed society. To help stock up on all of the proper supplies, take a look at the items below to see if any would catch the interest of the prepper in your life.

Here are several inexpensive options available for under $50.

1. Coghlan’s Tinder ~$6

Small enough that they add virtually nothing to the cumulative weight of a prepper’s gear, Coghlan’s Tinder is an excellent alternative to trying to start a fire with the friction from a stick. Place this in your pocket or a side compartment of your bag until needed and, at such a low cost, this product is an excellent secondary gift to a larger item.

2. S.O.L. Emergency Bivvy ~$14

The S.O.L. Emergency Bivvy acts as a lightweight personal shelter for those who find themselves deep in the forest during inclement weather. Composed of tear-resistant polyethylene, the bag reflects body heat to maintain temperature and keep the occupant warm and safe from wind, rain and snow. With a SOL Emergency Bivvy anyone can weather the elements with little trouble.

3. Gregory Mountain Products Hydration 3L Reservoir ~$36

Without a reserve of fresh water or access to a natural spring, those who wander into the woods or across an arid desert won’t last long. The Hydration 3L Reservoir accounts for this issue with a product that’s easy to carry from place to place, making short trips across the desert a far less frightening proposition. It also opens like a water bottle for no-hassle cleaning.

Camping Supplies Over $50

For those who have don’t have a problem spending more, here’s two more good options above $50.

1. Suunto MC-2 Compass ~$57

Laymen and prepper alike understand the necessity of a reliable compass. It can determine whether you make it through a sketchy location alive and intact or not. The Suunto MC-2 Compass is one of the best available today, with a globally balanced needle, a liquid-filled capsule for stability, declination correction and a mirror for covert signaling, among other features.

2. Solo Stove Lite ~$70

Recommended by Backpacker Magazine, the Solo Stove Lite fits neatly in any backpack. Small and lightweight, the stove is easy to transport and won’t overburden a prepper as they cross long distances of difficult terrain. In addition to that, the device doesn’t depend on canister fuel, but twigs, sticks, pinecones and other organic material that’s easy to find.

There’s Something Here for Everyone!

From knives to attachments and accessories for firearms, to watches and camping supplies, make sure that you do a thorough search to find the best product at the best price point. There’s no need to sacrifice quality as long as you put the time into finding affordable alternatives within your range.

And, remember, this isn’t just a simple gift that you’re giving: you’re giving a gift that may just save someones life!

NOTE: THIS WAS A GUEST POST.

7 Reasons To Add Thermal Optics In Your Preps

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Are Thermal Imaging Scopes Useful?

Having seen the movie Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was young landed me with a fascination for thermal optics. That fascination is not what led me to start considering their use today. Not only as an aid to hunting but as an option for a variety of tasks that we, as preppers, may deem important.

Recently in Search and Rescue training, we used a thermal optic to scan for lost hikers. It was amazingly powerful and successful. Even through rather dense foliage, we were able to clearly make out any presence with body heat.

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This is a very powerful utility and one that is now within the grasp of most people. Back in the 90s, even an affordable thermal optic could quickly exceed $10,000.00. I recall reading the ads for these units in several of the gun catalogs that arrived at our house and knew it was out of reach.

That has changed. Now you can get a high-quality thermal sight that is quite cost-effective.  The entire industry of thermal optics went through some growing pains early on.  This combined with their high cost has seen them mostly employed for hog hunting.

I think it’s well past time we take a hard look at thermal optics as the potential tool they could be.

A Brief Primer on Thermal Optics

To correct any possible misunderstanding, I think it’s important we spend a few brief words on what exactly a thermal optic is. It is not night vision and has a number of benefits over a standard night vision scope. I do believe night vision is a useful technology but not the equal of thermal optics.

Night vision relies on some form of illumination from an external source. That can be ambient light for some types or an IR illuminator for others. In order for something to show on night vision it has to reflect that illumination. It can not work in complete darkness and has a very limited range.

Thermal optics detect the radiation, in the form of body heat, that is emitted from a target. They can be used day or night and even in complete darkness. The range of thermal is often much farther and can easily exceed 1000 meters on some units.

All night vision is monochrome. Usually, you can pick out your target with night vision with little difficulty.  But if your target is near other reflective surfaces, it will just blend in. This is especially true of very small animals.

There is no blending in with thermal. The rainbow hues will stand out and be instantly recognizable. Even the quickest scan will show you if anything is near. From my home, I can clearly watch rats run around my barn over 200 yards from my window.

I believe the versatility and power of a thermal optic make it a far better technology than night vision for many uses.

Why a Thermal Scope?

So far, I have referred to this technology as thermal optics. So, why would I write this article about thermal scopes specifically instead of monoculars, goggles, or any of the other devices? That comes down to choosing a tool that is capable of multiple tasks.

Firstly, this is because a scope can serve as a hunting tool where other forms of thermal optics cannot. But that is just scratching the surface.

I am sure that most readers have a weapon mounted light. When there is something to investigate near our homes, many of us will reach for that weapon with its light rather than just picking up a flashlight.

The weapon mounted light serves the same purposes of a flashlight but with defensive capability.  A weapon mounted thermal optic serves the same purpose.

Because of the way that thermal works, using goggles or a monocular in conjunction with a weapon would be impossible. You would never be able to see your sights. A scope will do everything any other type of thermal will but has a weapon attached should you need it.

If you are not comfortable with carrying a gun, a scope can be detached, often with just a throw lever, and used as a monocular. A thermal scope is just the most useful format for this technology.

Thermal Optics for Hunting

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I am sure most of us are aware of the use of thermal optics in hunting. While it is worth covering briefly, it should not be the focus of this article.

Most game animals cannot be hunted after dark in many states. In my home state, only hog and coyote can be hunted after sundown. This will make hunting uses more limited for some than others.

Where and when it is permissible, hunting at night with a thermal scope is highly effective. Coyote are overpopulated in many areas, mine seems especially prone. I hunted coyote with a spotlight for several years but that method pales in comparison to the effectiveness of a thermal scope.

A bright light will scatter coyote immediately, often faster than you can get a bead on one. Thermal gives them no warning until your fire your first shot. Occasionally, that moment of panic from a loud noise can even give you time to get off a second shot.

My experience with hogs is much more limited but from my understanding, it works much the same.

Though I would hesitate to call it hunting, most of the use I get from my thermal scope is with the local vermin that like to raid my farm. I get coons, coyote, rats, and opossums regularly as they come searching for food. They are all easy prey with a thermal optic.

The one downside I have found is that the snakes they like to prey on my chickens are invisible.

Thermal Optics for Home Security

This is the one place that I feel thermal is most neglected. I have a rather large property with trees and a number of sheds and outbuildings. There are no street lights and on a new moon, it is pitch black. Thanks to the drug epidemic, home invasions and theft are prominent and a very frightening reality.

When I have an indication that something may be on my property, I want to be able to scan quickly. Sure, you can do that with a light but you give away your location. If you happen to start in the wrong spot, any troublemakers are given at least some warning to hide. This is an imperfect solution.

Night vision is a little better. You avoid giving any warning and don’t give away your location. But as we talked about with hunting, targets may not stand out, especially if they are hiding. Night vision also has a smaller field of view and limited range. I think it’s a solid tool but not one that can do everything I want.

Thermal optics give no warning, do not give you away, and make target location and identification easy. I can see to the far end of my property about 400 yards away and make out deer, dogs, and even small animals.

Even if someone were hiding with just a head poking out, it would light up in vibrant hues. Seeing through vegetation is a breeze so a person would have to be completely out of sight for them not to show up. This is by far the quickest way to scan your property with the least chance of missing anything out of place.

I could explain most of this all day but you can not experience how easy spotting through a thermal optic is until you try it for yourself. This video shows a couple of different modes available on Thermal optics.  It does not show the typical rainbow color scheme that most people are familiar with. For scanning, I prefer the rainbow mode but the white heat mode does work very well.

You could do all of this with any thermal optic. I choose a rifle scope over a spotting scope for several reasons. As I mentioned, I like having the option to attach it to a weapon. Additionally, thermal scopes often have superior run times and a greater range of magnification. This is a huge benefit, especially when trying to spot at a distance or to identify a smaller target.

The optic I have attaches with a throw lever and holds zero pretty well. Probably most of my use is ridding the farm of varmints using a .22 rifle. The remainder of the time it gets mounted on an AR-15 for larger targets. I rarely ever use it without it mounted on a gun but it could be used as just a spotter.

I would not trust it to hold a zero well enough for a 100-yard shot but most of my shots are 20 yards or less and I am within an inch or so. This is acceptable for any use I normally have. When I take it out to hunt, I do an actual zero on the rifle before I go.

The peace of mind this has brought for scanning my property has been well worth the cost!

Other Uses for Thermal Optics

As I mentioned above, I use a thermal optic for search and rescue. This is not a weapon mounted scope but a dedicated unit. I do not take a rifle with me on search and rescue. This application works well in the woods, water, and most any other environment and is the most important use I have for thermal.

I also use my thermal to keep track of my dogs after dark when they go out. It works much better than a flashlight and is good practice. But outside of the use on living things, a Thermal scope has a variety of uses. The more innovative you are, the more uses you are likely to find.

I use a thermal to check for hotspots on my wood burning chimney. This can help avoid fires and tell you when you may have a potential blockage in your chimney. While you are at it, you can use a good thermal to check your home insulation by looking for cold spots. Heating is expensive, why waste it?

I do a similar check on my HVAC system. You can easily see leaks and blockages in your system and avoid costly checks that involve taking your ductwork down. You don’t need a sensitive, purpose made unit to do this. Any thermal optic should work well enough to detect these issues.

You can check electrical problems in the same way. Check your breaker box to make sure none of your fuses are running hot before it becomes a problem. You can even check your household outlets and surge protectors to make sure they aren’t running hotter than they should be.

Hot water pipes can also be scanned to look for places that may benefit from more insulation. Check your windows to make sure you aren’t losing heat. There are a variety of uses thermal can be applied to for measuring heat loss. You should probably take it off your rifle first though.

This may somewhat piggyback off other uses but I also take my smaller thermal optic with me when camping. I like to be able to spot wildlife and watch the activities of nocturnal critters that you usually never see. You could even use it to search for Bigfoot or the Yeti if you were so inclined.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this does an adequate job of addressing some of the many uses of thermal technology. For those who seek to be truly prepared, a thermal optic is an amazing tool with so many applications in our world. For prepper types, so many of these uses are important to the way we conduct our daily lives.

The longer I have had my thermal optics, the more I have found I use them. Of course, you should match your thermal to your intended uses. That said, when it comes down to it a mountable rifle scope provides the most utility for me.

I can use it for security, safety, providing food, and even some leisure activities. They may not be a perfect technology but they are a very useful one.

BIO: Eric Patton from Scopesman

Eric grew up hunting, fishing, and roaming the hills of the Easter U.S. and has dedicated himself to becoming a well-rounded outdoorsman.  Anytime there is an opportunity for a little fishing or a morning spent hunting, you will find him in the woods.  In his off time, he teaches a variety of outdoor skills including land navigation and basic survival.  Recently a Search and Rescue member, he has begun learning the ancient art of human tracking in a variety of terrains.

How To Build A High Quality Survival Armory For Just $500

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If you feel that you need a personal armory of firearms but are extremely limited in your budget to only around $500 or so, you may feel that your best course of action will either be to wait and save up for a single high quality firearm later, or to go ahead and buy a collection of cheaply made ‘budget’ firearms to get you by.

But truth be told, neither of these options are ones that you have to pursue. This is because it is possible to build a complete armory of firearms for disaster and SHTF purposes on a shoestring budget of only around five hundred dollars.  

The reason this is possible is because there are a large number of high quality firearms that are also easily affordable. You see, there’s actually a difference between ‘cheap guns’ and ‘budget guns.’

In an SHTF or disaster scenario, there will be three basic types of firearms that you need to have in your collection:

  • Rifle: for big game hunting and long distance shooting
  • Shotgun: for personal/home defense and bird/small game hunting
  • Handgun: for defense and concealment

In this article, we’re going to outline and discuss three specific makes and models of firearms that you can buy in order to put together on a high quality survival armory for just $500 or less.

Rifle – Mosin Nagant 7.62x54r ($200)

The Mosin Nagant is one of the most popular budget rifles in existence.  While admittedly crudely made, the Mosin Nagant also has a well-earned reputation for being a very durable and accurate firearm.  It’s a rifle that you can beat to death, and it will

The Mosin Nagant served as the standard issue infantry rifle of the Red Army in World War I and World War II. Afterwards, when the Soviet Union upgraded to the AK-47 and SKS, tens of millions of surplus Mosin Nagant rifles hit the surplus market and found their way to the United States.

Originally, Mosin Nagants were so cheap that a bundle of three could be purchased for less than a hundred bucks.  Today, prices have been rising, but finding a Mosin Nagant in good condition for $200 or less either online or at pawn shops should not be a major challenge.

The Mosin is also chambered for the 7.62x54r round, which is very cheap and has ballistics very similar to a .30-06 Springfield.  This means that it will be more than capable in bringing down virtually any kind of North American big game.

Shotgun – Breech Loading 12 Gauge ($100)

Shotguns are among the most versatile firearms in existence, and if your gun safe doesn’t have one in it already, you need to change that.

What makes shotguns so versatile? The answer is simple: other than concealed carry and long distance shooting, there’s preciously little that they can’t do.

It’s all because of the ammo: when loaded with birdshot, a shotgun can be used for clay pigeon shooting and small game or bird hunting.  With buckshot, it’s one of the most devastatingly effective home defense weapons in existence. With slugs, it can even be used for big game hunting within reasonable distances.

Easily the cheapest choice for a dependable 12 gauge shotgun will be a breech loading single shot model.  These shotguns are so simple and rugged in operation that you won’t have to worry about one breaking down when the going gets tough.

No, a breech loading single shot shotgun is nothing fancy.  It’s no Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. But if you’re on a very shoestring budget, a simple breech loading shotgun will still be a perfectly doable option, and you should encounter no problems finding one in good shape in the $100 range.

Handgun – Taurus G2C 9mm Luger ($200)

At this point, we’ve spent $200 on our rifle and $100 on our shotgun. That leaves just another $200 to spend on our handgun.

The best handgun to have in an SHTF disaster would quite arguably be a mid-sized 9mm pistol with a relatively large capacity.  Such a handgun would be suitable for defending yourself against multiple attackers, while also being small and light enough to conceal carry.  While the ideal handgun for this criteria may be something like a Glock 19, that’s also going to be too much outside of our budget range.

One of the best pistols to fulfill this criteria for that $200 or so budget will be the Taurus G2C 9mm pistol.  This is a compact sized pistol with a capacity of 12+1 rounds, and offers you enough room for a full firing grip so it’s easily controllable.

The G2C also has an impressive number of features for a budget pistol, including a manual thumb safety, a Glock-style trigger safety, and a loaded chamber indicator.  The pistol has also gained a strong reputation for reliability, with many users reporting having thousands of rounds through their G2C pistols without any hiccups.

Conclusion

Having a personal armory of firearms is one of the most important things you can as you prepare for disaster as it can help keep your family safe while also enabling you to put food on the table.

If you only have $500 to spend on guns right now, the above three choices will definitely serve you well in any SHTF or disaster scenario.

NOTE: THIS WAS A GUEST POST.

$5 Faraday Cage How To Guide

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Have you always wanted a Faraday Cage to protect your sensitive electronics from an EMP, but were afraid of the cost? Well, consider this idea on making your own Faraday cage for about $5 each. And the best part: you can make several of these with the supplies you’ll need! Here’s how…

“Although the EMP literature is scarce, and often contradictory, I found a “recipe” for a Faraday cage that should withhold both types of EMPs, whether natural or man-made. Based on my own research, I’m pretty sure this will work better than a microwave, a galvanized trash can, or some of the other solutions you can find online.

The idea is simple: wrap your devices in alternating layers of insulating and conductive material, then put everything inside a thick ammo box.

Aluminum foil is cheap, you can find cardboard around the house for free, duct tape and packaging tape are also dirt-cheap, so you can make a cheap Faraday cage for less than $5. Now you will spend more than $5 for these supplies, but keep in mind you’ll be able to make several cages for this amount of money. This doesn’t include the ammo can, which you also probably have in your garage…”

Read the full article here

The Bronc Box: Durable Gear Storage

This guy always seems to come up with neat new gear, and the bronc box is no exception. If you’re looking for a very durable, modular storage option for your weapons and gear, this box may be just the thing. They say it’s “build like a tank,” floats, can be customized, comes in different colors, and more…

Off Grid Tools Survival Axe Review

I was sent this Off Grid Tools Survival Axe with “31 features” in exchange for an honest review. And I told the representative that I’m not normally a fan of multi-use tools such as these… maybe I was wrong in this case.

I do want to point out that I feel advertising a tool has “31 features” to make it sound more useful is a bit misleading. As an example, nine of those features are somehow split among four separately sized hex head sockets built into the axe head. To me that’s only four “features” to list. Other features pull double-duty too, but there’s no reason to point out every single one. In my opinion, the survival axe has about a dozen clearly unique “features” to name.

Now, I’ll get off my soapbox and onto the interesting and useful aspects of the tool…

For starters, the packaging is something I pay attention to. If a tool is packaged well then odds are that it’s going to be built well. And, in this case, even though it’s packaged in plastic, the survival axe is clearly packaged well:

And comes with an easy-to-use sheath (a must for safety):

Inside the handle there’s a 6″ reciprocating saw blade that can be exposed by turning the small knob near the bottom of the handle:

The blade locks into position when being used; just push the blade a bit to the side and it can be rotated back into the handle for storage. That’s nice.

Before even using the axe, I decided to take the five screws out of the handle because I thought the axe might include extra blades… it does not.

Of course, the first thing I wanted to try out was the axe. And, so, I decided to split a bit of kindling. As you can see below, the Off Grid Tools Survival Axe is sitting next to my trusty Fiskars Hatchet which is what I normally use for splitting kindling fast:

Surprisingly, the Survival Axe performed very well. The blade was sharp and split kindling easily; just as easily as my Fiskars. In addition, the hammer on the backside of the Survival Axe came in handy when I needed to use a mallet get the axe head through tough spots in the firewood. For this purpose, I was pleased.

The next thing I tried was to drive a few different nails into a board with the hammer feature, and it worked well enough:

I then used the hammer claw feature to remove the nails and it worked just fine for the nails closer to the board, though I needed a bit of leverage for the longer nail:

Overall, the hammer and nail puller / claw worked well enough. It’s no replacement for an actual hammer, but it will get the job done.

I then wondered about the saw. And, although, it’s a full 6″ in length, I’d say the saw blade is virtually useless. In fact, I spent a good 30 seconds just trying to cut the end of the 2″x4″ until I tired out after getting almost nowhere:

Clearly, the teeth on this blade are NOT meant for cutting wood, so, I tried to cut a piece of cooper pipe:

It works, though, I wouldn’t want to have to use it often at all. If you can replace the blade with more aggressive teeth, then I would say it’s useful for potential survival purposes. Fortunately, it appears to be a typical reciprocating saw blade which means it can be easily swapped out with a more aggressive teeth pattern.

Most of the other features I didn’t really try, such as the hex head sockets, pry bar, or spanner wrench. I did try the box cutter and was underwhelmed as it was in an odd position to be truly useful and, to be honest, didn’t do a good job even when I could position the survival axe correctly.

And, although I wasn’t able to try a few of the likely more useful survival features yet, I do like the fact that it includes a gas shut-off wrench (I assume it’s non-sparking), seat belt cutter, and glass breaker.

Ultimately, I’m fairly pleased with the Off Grid Tools Survival Axe. The main components of the tool are useful (though you should replace the saw blade), it’s clearly made solidly, and includes a handful of additional features that could prove useful in the right situations (e.g., the seat belt cutter and glass breaker).

If interested, here’s a video about the various features too (not made by me):

Passive Solar Heating Panels

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This article on the Zen of Passive Solar Heating Panel Design is a neat write-up on how to make walls that can be used to gather the power of the sun to heat your home or, in this case, a workshop.

The author clearly took this project very seriously, going so far as to angle fins to absorb the most energy of these solar panels. In fact, the author states that he can maintain the internal temperature of the shop at 65 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature is about -20 degrees.. what a difference!

Here’s the beginning of the article (originally found here)…

“A solar heating panel is not just a box with a glass front, a black interior, and a pair of openings in the back. Any fool can build such a box – and many have, but very few have managed to heat an entire building with the result.

You already knew that, of course, or you wouldn’t be reading this. I mention it only because you may not have known that you knew, and because I think it’s an important starting point for our discussion.

When I decided to seriously tackle the design of a solar heating panel, I listed seven requirements for a successful design:

Passive operation
The panel must operate efficiently using only the thermal energy it captures – independent of all other energy sources.
Diurnal operation
The panel must deliver heat efficiently during the day, and not lose more than an absolute minimum of heat when there is insuficient sunshine to provide any deliverable heat.
Season-dependent heating
The panel must deliver maximum heat during winter, and a minimum in summer.
Maximum reliability
The panel must have no moving parts to wear out or fail, and must operate dependably in untended situations.
Long service life
The panel should last at least as long as the structure it heats.
Minimum maintenance
The panel should operate at full efficiency for extended periods of time without needing servicing.
Low-cost
The panel must provide the fastest payback when compared to all other heating methods, and must incur no expense after purchase and installation.

My attitude was that I would take as long as needed to get the job done – and that it would cost whatever it cost. There was the possibility that I might run out of resources without achieving recognizable success, but the possible benefits of success seemed to far outweigh the risk of failure…”

Read the full article here

Easy DIY Water Filter

With a little ingenuity and a few parts (of about $30 or less) you can build your own SHTF DIY water filter which can be reused over and over again.

You only need an inexpensive hand pump, activated carbon, window screen material (or something similar), a small piece of PVC pipe, as well as some appropriate fittings and tubing to round out the build.

Of course, this water filter should ONLY ever be used as a last resort and you really should attempt to boil any collected water to ensure it’s safe to consume. This filter, therefore, should be considered as a quality pre-filter before final treatment…

Fire Cider – Natural Cold Killer!

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Want to get a head start on staying healthy for the cold season? Try this “fire cider” recipe which, to be honest, sounds like it would be a tough drink to stomach, lol.

Regardless, the drink does contain quite a few beneficial ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, garlic, and ginger, each of which are purported to have significant health benefits when your ill…

“If you’re looking for a spicy, tangy, and delicious way to beat the tar out of the common cold, Fire Cider is for you. This wonderful health tonic is made with a variety of herbs and spices that will literally burn the virus right out of your system. Fire cider is chock full of things like apple cider vinegar, hot peppers, and garlic.

Sounds more like a salad dressing or steak marinade than a cold cure.

Don’t be fooled by the tasty ingredients of Fire Cider because this potent concoction is anything but seasoning for your favorite foods. It takes on the common cold like a warrior going into battle…”

Read the full article here (includes recipe video)