DIY Walmart Premium Bug Out Bag (video)

Perhaps this title sounds like an oxymoron but SensiblePrepper did a pretty good job putting together a BOB for a total just shy of $315 (before tax), all purchased from Walmart.

I can say that I tried to make a BOB from Walmart gear many years ago for less than $100; I didn’t make my budget and, honestly, going for the better gear would have been a better idea, especially when you can piece it together over time like he suggests.

And, though Walmart gear may not always be the best, there’s no reason why you cannot make a good quality bag following SensiblePrepper’s advice here…

And the list of bag contents from video description:

Bug Out Bag Contents:

  • Morph 26 Back Pack $18.97
  • Gerber Prodigy Fixed Blade Knife $49.97
  • Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool $26.84
  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter $19.97
  • Maglite Flashlight $22.32
  • Energizer Headlamp $19.97
  • Duracell AA Batteries $6.18
  • Survival Reflect Tent $8.74
  • First Aid Kit $15.88
  • SS Thermos $18.67
  • Stanley Wonder Bar $8.97
  • Tealight Candles 50ct $2.33
  • Dickies Work Socks $8.77
  • Dust Mask $.97
  • Coleman Bio-Wipes $3.97
  • Gorilla Tape $5.77
  • Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit $19.97
  • 4-1 Whistle $3.97
  • 550 Paracord $5.97
  • Water Bladder $9.97
  • Survival Food Bar $4.97
  • Artic Watch Cap $5.00
  • Waxed Cotton Ball Cap $7.47
  • Safety Glasses $5.97
  • Leather Gloves $9.56
  • Petroleum Jelly $.97
  • Cotton Balls 200pk $1.88

Total Cost $313.76 plus tax

$16.99 Wood Gasifier Knockoff Camping Stove (video)

I’ve found that you generally get what you pay for and though this knockoff wood gasifier stove is no SilverFire Scout that he keeps referring to (retails for over $70 on their website) and it’s certainly not a Solo Stove which I recently raved about, but for less than $20 it’s not a bad backup option either, perhaps for your vehicle or just to have around the house.

And while most of the video is him just fiddling with the stove, he did say near the end that it needed about 20 minutes for a boil which is significantly longer than it took me to boil one cup using the Solo Stove. Regardless, for the price he suggests the Lixada Portable Wood Stove a good buy…

RZ Mask: Forget N-95 and N-100 Masks, Try This Instead!

I was sent two different RZ Masks for review recently and I can say that I’m growing rather fond of wearing one, especially since it’s been COLD outside:

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Don’t I look handsome? Well, maybe not so much. 🙂 And apart from possibly scaring a few folks during my morning runs lately, the RZ Mask is becoming an addition to my winter jogging attire.

What is an RZ Mask?

Think of it like a mesh between a skiing face mask and an N-95 mask with one-way valve. According to the manufacturer:

“The RZ Mask is a premium breathing protection mask, designed to be comfortable, but extremely effective… The RZ Mask provides to pof the line lung protection when you’re at risk [during an emergency].”

There are actually two types of RZ Masks: the M1 mask which is recommended for colder climates because it’s made from neoprene and is intended to help keep your face warmer whereas the M2 mask is meant for warmer climates due to being made of a mesh material.

I should point out two additional points of note: first, there are quite a few different designs of the RZ mask so definitely take a look on Amazon and find one that suits your inner child and, second, there are two sizes (regular and extra large) and there is definitely a difference between how the two sizes fit; if you’re a larger person then go with the extra large mask.

The M1 mask (see first image below) I received was the extra large version and, since I’m a smaller individual, it didn’t fit me well. The regular sized M2 mask (see second image below) I received did fit well. As such, definitely pay attention to the size you’re purchasing.

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Differences Between the M1 and M2 Masks

The major difference between the M1 (neoprene) and the M2 (mesh) is the material they’re made out of. Like I said above, the M1 is for colder weather and the M2 is for warmer climates. Personally, I was wearing the M2 in near freezing weather and was perfectly happy with it keeping my face warm.

Obviously, from the images above there’s a difference in the designs too with the M1 being a bit “fancier” in my humble opinion. The M1 also includes a small pocket in one of the straps which is supposedly intended for a small MP3 player but, honestly, I don’t see anything people use (like smartphones) fitting there. The M2 doesn’t have a pocket which was just fine.

There’s also one other major difference: the smells. The M1 (neoprene) had a very distinctive chemical smell when I put it one. The smell was obnoxious enough that I decided to wash it which helped a bit but I can say that it probably needs another few washes and uses–maybe tossed in the dirt a few times–before it will go away. The M2, on the other hand, didn’t have any offending smell.

About the Filters

First, let’s get the basics out of the way.

The RZ mask is unique BECAUSE it meshes a ski face mask with a filter containing two layers: an outer particulate layer that traps particles down to 0.1 microns in size–small enough to trap bacteria–and an inner active carbon filter which helps remove odors and organic chemicals with an overall effectiveness of 99.9% (for the standard masks I explain below) which is about equivalent to an N-100 mask.

Here’s what it looks like as if you were about to put it on your face (the filter is the white part):

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This is a good time to point out that the filters are not NIOSH or OSHA approved.

Besides that, there are apparently three different types of filters. I won’t get into all the details too much here but there’s the regular filters (F1 filters) I received with my masks and are intended for low intensity use but high particulates and odors.

There are also two other types of filters, one for high intensity (F2 filters) but not for high particulates and odors, the other for high intensity AND for high particulates and odors (the F3 filter). It seems you can readily purchase replacement standard filters on Amazon (like the filters that came with my masks) but not the other two filter types; you’ll have to visit RzMasks.com to buy them.

In my opinion, the standard filters seem good enough–if not the best option–for not only emergency use but even fairly active use too. But, if you want to be as prepared as possible, you may want to purchase the F3 masks which are the high intensity and high particular filters. Strangely enough, the F3 masks are actually rated at 97% effective whereas the standard F1 masks are rated at 99.9% effective… go figure.

With me so far?

Hopefully.

RZ Mask Care and Use

The only real maintenance is changing the filters. The have varying recommendations, from ten hours for heavy use to upwards of 60 hours. That’s a good amount of time if you’re using it for a survival bug out, for example.

Changing the filter is fairly straightforward. Unscrew the two retainers that hold the filter in place:

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…and swap out the filter. Just be sure not to lose the little, semi-translucent rubber washer:

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I can say that I had no trouble at all changing the filter out on the mesh M2 mask but had difficulty with one of the two retainers on the M1 mask. Regardless, changing the filter isn’t something to do on the fly and will likely take a good minute to do properly.

What about comfort?

This is where the RZ mask will outperform any N-95 or N-100 mask.

Wearing the mask is really like wearing a skiing face mask. It’s rather comfortable to wear for a good length of time (I use mine jogging), stays put (meaning it doesn’t ride up my nose or fall down my face), and perhaps most important: I can breathe well with it. Now’s a good time to point out that I did have some leakage with the mask but ONLY because of my facial hair which, by the way, you’ll get with ANY mask.

Anyway, for anybody who has ever tried to wear a face mask without an exhalation valve, you know what I’m talking about. In my opinion, an exhale valve is critical to any survival breathing mask… this one has two. Which, by the way, made it easy for me to do some heavy breathing while jogging and is exactly the type of breathing YOU might do if you’re hoofing it during a bug out.

I can also say that the mask felt very secure. Compared to a common N-95 mask–which I always fear will break one of the two bands–there is no comparison; the RZ mask is hands-down very secure assuming, of course, that you chose the right size.

Overall, I’m pleased with the mesh (M2) mask and actually prefer it to the *better* M1 neoprene mask. That said, if the smell from the M1 goes away then it would probably end up being the better option because it should protect from cold the best but, like I noted above, I felt the mesh mask worked just fine for down to freezing… below that I can’t say.

All in all, for the price (and including the extra filters) the RZ mask seems to be a fairly good deal if you’re looking for a mask that is both an effective filter and can protect your face from cold and whatnot. Of course, you could attempt to makeshift your own with a ski mask and filter, but why do something halfway when it’s already been done for you.

13.7 lb Get Home Bag (link)

Image Credit
Image Credit

The older I get the more I realize that I can’t carry 40-50 pound bags around anymore. 😉 Weight is most definitely a concern when it comes to bug out bags and get home bags these days. Overall, I’d say this post did a pretty good job of packing in the necessities while keeping weight to a minimum.

That said, the weight doesn’t take into consideration heavy items like a filled water bottle but, then again, I doubt most any pack list does.

I would also point out that a few important additions are missing, in my opinion, first and foremost are a mini flashlight (which I thought was odd) though he does include a headlamp which are certainly handy to have when hiking. Since you can get a flashlight that’s very small and relatively lightweight there’s no reason not to have one or two in the bag!

I also didn’t see a small tarp which I would definitely include. They have so many uses from shelter to rainwater collection you should certainly add one as they pack flat and don’t weight too terribly much.

I would also toss in a bit of money (dollar bills and some change) as you never know what or who you might encounter on the walk back home… maybe you can buy some supplies or bribe a guy for a ride.

Beyond that, I can say this guy is rather ambitious about his trek back home (32 miles by car) so I can understand about keeping weight to a minimum. Even if he can cut the distance in half, at about two miles on average walking pace it would take several hours to get back home. That’s a lot of walking for one day. Keep that in mind…

“This is my stab at a Get Home Bag after reading endless posts and recommendations, as well as experimenting with my camping gear. The total weight of my personal get home bag, minus water and handguns is 13.7 Lb.

There are a number of criteria I considered during this exercise:

Distance – how far will I likely need to travel?
Why – why am I’m being forced to walk home anyway?
Terrain – lakes, streams, rivers, roadways, built up areas, residential areas and sub-divisions.
Climate – Piedmont area of the Carolina’s, although I travel through the Appalachians and further south on occasion.
Flora/fauna – what sort of natural resources are available?
Most importantly – My own aching back…”

Read the full article here

This Survival Kit Is NOT Something To Rely Upon (video)

Normally, I like to show fun stuff and things that work out but sometimes it’s useful to see when things don’t quite work well. That, sadly, is the case with this Schrade Survival Kit.

Let’s say this is a healthy reminder to us all that you’re almost always better off putting together your own survival kits, be they bug out bags or small pocket-sized kits like this one… that way you’ll know the gear and supplies you include will work and can be relied upon when truly needed.

So, please, do yourself a huge favor and (1) do your due diligence when purchasing new gear and (2) test it out so you know what you bought…

Viking Folding Saw for Camping and Hiking (video)

Folding saws for your camping and hiking adventures are just awesome additions if you don’t have one. This EKA Viking Folding Saw appears to be a good one according to the video but I find it hard to beat a trusty Sven Folding Saw for such purposes because it’s reliable and relatively cheap. That said, this EKA saw may be an even better option (for reasons stated in the video) if you choose to afford it…

Solo Stove: Perfect for Backpacking, Bug Out, Emergencies

I’m sure you’re familiar (or at least have seen) the Solo Stove over the years, I know I have. For some reason I never bothered to buy one… what a mistake! Fortunately, I was sent one to review along with the accompanying pot 900.

I should point out that I’m NOT a huge backpacker so this stove is really more for bug out and occasional fun camping trips but if I were a backpacker this stove would probably be my first choice in nearly any situation unless, of course, I’m somewhere where it’s impossible to find anything to burn… in which case I wouldn’t be there. 😉

Let’s start from the beginning…

Fuel Costs Nothing

The Solo Stove is meant to burn biomass, that is, renewable fuel such as twigs which just happen to cost you nothing to gather. In fact, I merely had to gather a few small twigs (I’d actually gathered far too many twigs at first) to light a fire good enough to boil water with:

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I like the idea of free fuel very much and have always shied away from backpacking stoves that used liquid fuel sources preferring to simply use a folding stove under which I could light a small fire.

While that works, it’s not efficient and I didn’t fully realize how inefficient it was until my experience with the Solo Stove, which brings me to…

Double-Walled Design

The stove is designed as a double-walled stove which funnels air through the holes on the outside bottom of the stove up between the two walls and, because of the design, preheats the air which then mixes with the fire inside the inner chamber via more holes on the inside top to create a more efficient burn. In the photo below, you’ll also notice the cooking ring upon which the pot 900 sits which also aids with adding the right amount of oxygen to the fire.

Personally, I could tell right away how much more efficient this fire was than a typical fire I would light underneath a folding stove. Here’s a shot of the stove working after only a few minutes of having lit it:

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Compact and Lightweight

After un-boxing, I could quickly tell how lightweight the stove was as it’s made from stainless steel. The stove weighs all of 9 ounces while the accompanying pot weighs even less. Put together I barely noticed.

Size was actually a bit larger than I’d assumed seeing as though this is a backpacking stove where every last square inch counts but if you’re backpacking for two this stove would be perfect. Here’s a comparison of the stove and pot next to a can of green beans:

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The pot can hold 30 ounces (with room to spare) if that helps you gauge size, enough to heat two cans of soup, or quickly heat a 15-ounce can of hearty chili as I did here:

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The stove and pot both come with protective sleeves (shown below) and the best part is that the stove fits snugly inside the pot 900 to save space. In fact, the stove even fits inside the pot with the protective sleeve but just barely:

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Cleanup Was Relatively Easy

If you’re impatient like I am you may not want to wait long enough for the fire to settle down properly and you’ll wind up with a less efficient burn and wind up making a sooty mess like this:

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…and that was after only ONE use! Fortunately, cleanup is easy with a wet sponge and a little elbow grease but out in the field you’re probably going to have to live with it and just clean it when you get home.

As for the stove, let cool completely and dump out the ashes:

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A few more things of note…

The cooking ring fits nicely inside the stove for packing:

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And, like I mentioned above, the stove fits snugly inside the pot. Toss in some matches and tinder and you’ve got yourself a ready-to-go cooking solution for bug out or any emergency. 🙂

Last, but not least, though I don’t have photos, the stove includes two fold-away handles (you can sort of see one on the right in the photo above) as well as a rubber-lined handle for the pot lid. I can say that the pot does get warm to the touch and so do the handles but not enough to burn me.

Overall, I cooked three items in the stove: oatmeal, chili, and boiled water for hot chocolate for my kids (they sort of smiled here):

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I can say that the Solo Stove is everything I would want in a backpacking or bug out stove: it’s lightweight, compact, uses free fuel, it’s durable and super efficient… they really though this stove design through, in my humble opinion.

Each time I used it I had a fire going in minutes and cooking my food or heating water to a boil took only a few extra minutes beyond that.

It really is fast and easy. If you’re in the market for a quality backpacking or bug out stove, choose this one, you’ll be glad you did.

How to Make a Smartphone Work With Winter Gloves (video)

At first I thought this was kind of a silly video, after all, if I’m going to be surviving I surely won’t need my smartphone… right? Well, not so fast. I, for one, have quite a few survival-related apps, maps, pdfs, and whatnot on my smartphone and could sure make use of them in a bug out situation. Of course, having to take off a pair of gloves regularly would not make me happy! As such, this idea could be a good one to implement especially if you already have a pair of gloves included in your bug out bag that are always kept there. Just do this mod to your gloves and you won’t have to worry about removing your gloves to use your smartphone in the freezing cold…

RZ Mask: Airborne Contamination Protection In Your Bug Out Bag (video)

Like he says, airborne contamination is probably an overlooked area of preparedness in most bug out bags. In this video, he points out an interesting tool that I hadn’t heard of before today, the RZ Mask which is obviously intended to help protect you from harmful airborne contaminants.

The interesting thing is that this mask actually includes an active carbon filter which is intended to help filter out dust particles up to 99.9%. This is an interesting prep to include and likely better than the common dust mask while also offering more protection for your face.

Of course, the RZ mask isn’t a super cheap option, as such, a simple bandanna is better than nothing, has many uses, and is almost nothing when packed. Beyond that, a N-95 mask or N-100 mask (with one-way valve) are good to include too but for the price and overall protection offered this RZ mask may be a good addition (note: some Amazon reviews pointed out that this mask has a strong chemical / plastic smell so be aware of that)…