Preparing a Survival Kit for Your Car Can Help You in Everyday Driving too! (Guest Post)

Cars offer the extra feeling of safety because they have a shell that can protect you. However this shell cannot help you when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere unless you packed a survival kit in it. A few small things that you keep in your vehicle can sustain you for a long time if you ever break down and cannot get help soon.

You may think that when would I ever need it since there aren’t many rarely traveled parts of the country anymore? But remember that you can go as far as you want once you have good transportation. And if you are adventurous you will find those spots easily! Camping out in the mountains or getting stranded in the snow are some of the examples. In any case, being prepared doesn’t hurt anybody. Besides you don’t need an emergency to need any of the items in your kit. Here are a few tips on what to include in your survival kit and how they can help you in your everyday driving.

1. Water

Nobody can argue about how essential water is for your survival. Also, you may need to top up the water in your auto. Have sufficient water with you all at all times. You should have them in plastic bottles so that they don’t burst in freezing temperatures. [Editor’s note: plastic bottles can burst too.]

I remember my car overheating and running out of water in the cooling system a couple of years ago. I was lucky that I was broken down on a busy road. Seeing the steam coming out of my automobile, an old couple stopped, gave me water in a two liter coke bottle and drove off without saying a word. I thought what kind and smart people! I waited a little for my vehicle to cool down, poured the content of the bottle in to the radiator and it was enough to get me home.

2. Food

People can last several days without food but you function better if you eat. Pack some non-perishable food that can be good source of energy like energy bars. This is extra important if you often travel with your family.

Last year we decided to take a road trip to the highlands. We thought that we would find several restaurants and cafes with beautiful mountain views and delicious food on the way and didn’t pack sandwiches with us. Unfortunately, we drove miles and miles without a single place to eat or to find supplies. We saw a couple of small villages that had no shop either. We were all starving and remembered the supplies we had in our survival kit. After a bar of chocolate we were much happier. [Editor’s note: any food you intend to keep in your car kit should be able to sustain temperature extremes and rotated often; chocolate is not a good option except for road trips. 😉 ]

3. Extra Clothing

Extra layers of clothing, boots and blankets can be immensely valuable especially if the weather is cold and you have to spend the night. Socks, gloves and hats are great to keep you warm as well.

Many times I walked out of home without wearing appropriate clothing and was so glad that I always keep a fleece jacket in my car. They are extremely handy for people like me even in the cities.

4. Emergency Kit

Emergency kit with sufficient medical supplies can be bought from most car accessory stores. Remember to add one or two medicines that every household has like painkillers. Simple bandages can be extremely valuable at times.

My daughter has always had fascination with plasters and she would have hours of fun with them that we keep a big pack of them in our car. Even now she loves them and uses them to avoid foot sores. And I often get sudden headaches that I always keep painkillers in my car. These basic supplies can be very handy in your everyday driving.

5. Tools

Simple tools like a small shovel, army knife, torch / flashlight, candle and matches can be handy in many situations. For example, the shovel can be used to clean the snow or mud under your tire. If you are stuck in mud don’t force your way out. Instead use your shovel to put solid support under your tires.

Tools are always handy. I don’t know how many times I used my army knife when we are out on the road. Screw drivers and torch (flashlight) are other regularly used tools in our car.

6. Car Tools

Jumper cable, tow rope, warning lights or flares and fire extinguisher are some of the tools come to mind. It is not a bad idea to keep other tools like a screw driver, adjustable spanner (wrenches) and few simple tools in your vehicle. Also, you should have a seat belt cutter where you can reach from your seat.

I always wanted to be that guy who would produce jumper cables whenever someone needs to jump-start a car with a dead battery. But they are one thing I failed to produce whenever I need them and was so glad a stranger had them in their car and was kind enough to help me out.

7. Communication and Direction Tools

Don’t assume that your cell phone will always work. You should keep things like a whistle, map and compass to help you out. We have already mentioned flares.

Maps are great when you need to plan a long journey for the day. GPS is great for finding your way in short distances but it is not easy to see which towns you will pass and if there are scenic routes along your route. I love to take a scenic route whenever I can and I always keep a map that shows them. [Editor’s note: taking detours is always fun but if you’ve told others where you’re going and which route you’ll take then you should update them with your change of plans if at all possible.]

8. Extras

You should also think about extra batteries for your flashlight or a cell phone adapter that can be used in the automobile. If you are like me you will need them. I seem to run out of cell phone batteries on a daily bases because I constantly forget to charge them. [Editor’s note: charge your cell phones everyday regardless of state of charge because you never know when/if you’ll need it.]

Here are a few more tips on what to do:

  • If you are planning on going camping or taking a road trip you should tell about it to someone close to you. Tell them where you are going, how long you are planning to stay and how they can contact you. [Editor’s note: AND if you’re changing plans!]
  • Always make sure that your gas tank is at least half full when you are planning on taking a trip in wilderness or driving in less traveled regions in the snow season. On the above mentioned mountain trip we couldn’t even find food for ourselves let alone petrol (gasoline). I was lucky that my car didn’t break down and I had plenty of petrol (gasoline). [Editor’s note: I suggest you always keep your gas tank half full no matter what.]
  • Don’t leave the engine on for heat and sleep, particularly when there is snow outside. Wind can quickly cover your exhaust with snow and cause a carbon monoxide poisoning. [Editor’s note: yes, be diligent to check your exhaust pipe.]

This article is written by Joe more of http://cheapautoinsurance.net. You can read his articles full of driving and auto insurance tips on his blog.

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Image Credit

Attach Res-Q-Me to Seat Belt for BEST Accessibility

This just recently dawned on me and though I’ve yet to purchase the handy Res-Q-Me Keychain Car Escape Tool (pack of 2) for my own use, I have been contemplating where the best place to keep it would be when I do.

Photos show it attached to keychains like this:

resqme-seat-belt-cutter-2

But I’m wondering if that’s the best place for it as I hear it’s possible for keys to be flung from the ignition during an accident which obviously means the Res-Q-Me won’t be where you expect it. I did briefly also consider somehow including it with the other assorted door pad items I put together since that would be a close place to grab for it but wasn’t quite sure how to keep it from getting flung around there too.

As such, I’m thinking the best place to keep it would be directly attached to the driver’s seat belt. If you attached it with a loop of paracord then it should be right where you need it yet loose enough to be able to maneuver to cut a seat belt. The only major drawback I see is if you wanted to use the window punch then it wouldn’t be easy to release from the paracord loop without either first cutting it away from the seat belt or attaching it differently.

Personally, I’d say a seat belt cutter is a good item to include but do realize that there are different kinds, some of which may not be easily tired to a seat belt or otherwise attached to something.

What do you think? Is attaching a Res-Q-Me cutter to a seat belt a good idea or not?

resqme-seat-belt-cutter-1

17 Great Ways to Use Your Foodsaver for Preparedness

I’ve been thinking about my foodsaver again lately. After the post on Foodsaver Successes, Failures, and Tips I figured I would point out many of the positive ways you can and should use a foodsaver for preparedness. While I own the FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System (which is a budget model) I’d say it’s served me well over the years for my purposes. Obviously, if you intend to use your foodsaver on a daily basis and for the intended purpose–to seal leftovers–then you may well want to purchase a better model such as this one.

Beyond the foodsaver itself you’re going to need a few items, including:

All-in-all the investment isn’t much considering how useful they are.

With the above in mind, here’s some of the many ways you can and should use a foodsaver to further your preps beyond just sealing leftovers:

  1. Extend longevity of Rx and OTC medications, antibiotics, vitamins, etc (basically anything already stored in pill bottles)
  2. Seal out moisture from UCO Stormproof Matches and fire starting supplies for your bug out bag or vehicle kits (these items tend to go bad over time due to moisture alone)
  3. Prolong shelf life of foods for your bug out bag–e.g., hard candies, granola bars, etc–or at home (note: not needed for pre-packaged freeze-dried foods)
  4. Prolong longevity of dehydrated foods in mason jars (they can often last years if dehydrated and stored properly in mason jars)
  5. Seal clothing and other personal protective gear from moisture and even to compress them for addition to a bug out bag (depending on what you’re trying to seal you can fit quite a bit in a very small space)
  6. Seal medical supplies–e.g., gauze, bandages, sports wraps, etc–from moisture (anything that moisture would affect)
  7. Help prevent leakage from anything that contains liquids such as water bottles, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc (I’ve actually had a bottle of isopropyl alcohol leak and ruin some preps that was NOT sealed)
  8. Ensure ammunition is moisture free when needed (that’s about the only problem you can run into)
  9. Contain items that may melt in extreme heat such as candles or petroleum jelly (if not properly contained in a jar but as part of a makeshift fire starter, for example)
  10. Prevent alkaline battery leakage onto other gear should something bad happen or even due to exposure to extreme heat
  11. Contain small/similar items that could easily be lost or separated–e.g., small needles, safety pins, etc–if they’re not contained in something else
  12. Store toiletries to prevent moisture contamination
  13. Preserve important documents, photos, identification, etc (realize that if information needs to be updated regularly then this could be a pain to reseal each time)
  14. Save a tasty treat for later, especially if you tricked your kids on Halloween (this is perhaps the BEST reason to use a foodsaver!)
  15. Make small pouches of dry food or trail mix, for example, for bug out or hiking use, similar to meals in a jar but “virtually” indestructible
  16. Save “unexpected” items in bulk such as seasonings, hot chocolate, seeds (anything sealed in a mason jar should be nearly impervious to both oxygen and moisture intrusion)
  17. Make meals in a jar from an assortment of freeze dried foods (this is a great idea but will require a significant investment in foods before becoming feasible)

I’d imagine there’s quite a number of additional ways you can mix and match foodsaver rolls, bags, and mason jars to further your preparedness. What say you?

foosaver-successes

16+ Abrasives and Lubricants for SHTF

It’s easy to get focused on the items we NEED for survival and forget about everything else. Water, food, ammo, and so on are the easy ones to think about. But what about all the other stuff that makes life easier but just aren’t nearly as sexy when it comes to SHTF blog posts?

There’s a lot to be considered but today I’m thinking, in particular, about abrasives and lubricants for SHTF. I use these terms very loosely so please don’t go by any standard definitions. In general, abrasives wear stuff away, lubricants make things move more easily.

That said, both abrasives and lubricants can be just the thing you NEED to make YOUR life easier during SHTF. Here’s some ideas of what I have in mind (in no particular order)…

Abrasives for SHTF

  • Dish scouring pads
  • Sandpaper (assorted grits)
  • Files and rasps
  • Grinding wheels
  • Knife sharpening stones
  • Bar soaps
  • Rags and towels
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Baking soda and salt

Lubricants for SHTF

  • General purpose lubricating oil (e.g., 3-in-one oil, lithium grease, WD-40)
  • Vehicle fluids (e.g., engine oil, transmission fluid) and mechanical fluids (e.g., 2-stroke oil)
  • Firearms lubricants (e.g., Break-Free)
  • Petroleum Jelly or mineral oils
  • Cooking oils (e.g., vegetable oil, palm oil, etc)
  • Dry Graphite Lube
  • Silicone Lubricant Spray

As you can see, there are several ideas and many, many possible subsets to consider. The point is that the above referenced items can make YOUR life easier day-in and day-out now and during a SHTF situation. What would you add?

abrasives-lubricants

Foodsaver Successes, Failures, and Tips

I’m sure I’ve said it before but I NEVER use my [easyazon_link asin=”B0044XDA3S” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]FoodSaver[/easyazon_link] to seal leftovers or for any foods whatsoever. I use it exclusively to prolong the life of supplies and gear that I want to better protect from oxygen and moisture. That was the plan anyway. I’ve done so for years and rarely had a problem but for some reason I found a bunch lately…

The other day I got into a bin of supplies that were meant as an off-site cache (though I haven’t quite done that yet) because I was looking for something in the bin… I think it was some N95 masks but what I was looking for doesn’t really matter.

What I noticed, however, was that some of the items I’d sealed in foodsaver rolls were NOT sealed! Note: I typically use [easyazon_link asin=”B001U05R16″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]11″ foodsaver brand rolls[/easyazon_link] which is what these are. I wasn’t too concerned until I started uncovering more and more items that were not properly sealed. What was going on, I wondered? Honestly, I’m still not sure but I figured I would share what I found below.

I should briefly point out that I sometimes go overboard with things like this and wind up “protecting” all sorts of stuff that probably didn’t need it. 😉 For the most part I wanted to seal items that could be damaged by moisture, though oxygen was a secondary concern. In some cases I also wanted to help prevent leakages as I have had supplies spoiled because of it, specifically a bottle of isopropyl alcohol that leaked.

My Foodsaver Successes and Failures

With that in mind, there are two photos below: the top one is of my foodsaver successes and the bottom is of my foodsaver failures. Here’s my successes from the off-site bin:

foosaver-successes

As you can see there are various pill bottles, including OTC and antibiotics, a box of matches, granola bars, some hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. There’s also a package of toothbrushes and flossers, an assortment of medical supplies (like gauze), as well as a jacket wrapped up in the background.

Now for my foodsaver failures…

foodsaver-failures

As you can see there’s a package of OTC medications, a can of shaving cream and razors, a package of disposable lighters, candles, and another jacket in the far back. There’s also a disposable camera (because I thought I might need to document something) and a package of needle and thread and safety pins. Like I said I can go overboard sometimes. 🙂

Though not everything that’s been sealed is shown, by and large most packages of pill bottles were still in tact. Honestly, I can’t make heads nor tails out of what’s going on. That is, there is no pattern that I can see.

Some Tips to Increase Success

After doing some research online it seems that even though the foodsaver rolls are not paper-thin they can be easily punctured, in particular, from items on the INSIDE. As such, you should be wary of sealing anything with sharp edges or pointy ends. Of course, I did have some items shown above that shouldn’t have ANY sharp ends, such as the jacket in the “failures” photo and possible the camera as well because all the corners and edges of the camera are rounded.

I can see how the shaving cream and package of needles may cause a sharp edge due to the packaging. Perhaps the candle bottoms and lighter ends could cause a sharp edge too. To remedy this, others suggested placing some sort of barrier between the items and foodsaver rolls, such as a Ziploc bag. I figured most anything would work including a few sheets of paper but I haven’t tried anything yet.

It might also be wise to leave the items out and wait 24-48 hours before putting them away to ensure that they stay sealed.

I would imagine that if the bags are so potentially fragile then they can be abraded from the outside as well so you should be careful what they’re placed next. Similarly, avoid removing them from their container often as well.

Though I wasn’t consistent I did occasionally double-seal the roll ends just in case one failed but I noticed that I had both single-sealed and double-sealed successes and failures.

My Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I don’t have a perfect answer as to why this failed. Visual inspection won’t help unless there’s a big hole or tear. Though I didn’t look real hard I didn’t notice any obvious holes. Since the end seals looked in tact I had to imagine that they failed away from the seals but that’s just a guess. As such, I’d say I’m having an abrasion problem.

To remedy this I simply cut off an end of the failed foodsaver bags/rolls and stuffed the contents along with the failed rolls into a new roll and re-sealed them. Doing so placed a barrier between the contents and the new foodsaver roll. After waiting a day everything looked fine so I’m really leaning towards the abrasion problem. Granted, perhaps it possible that the rolls failed days or weeks later. Seems I’ll have to check on them again to see if I’ve had a long term success or not.

What about you? Have you had any similar failures? If so, what have you done about it? Thanks!

Put Your Vehicle Door Pads to Good Use

Sometimes I feel like I take my prepping overboard… and my car is no exception. I literally have stuff shoved everywhere, from the nooks and crannies of the spare tire well to the glove box, under seats, and in bins and bags in the back. Sometimes I wonder if I could actually fit more stuff in there. 😉

Obviously, that sounded like a challenge to me and so I finally decided to try and put my door pads to good use. Unfortunately, door pads don’t offer much space to make use of and certainly come is all manner of sizes (e.g., depth, length, width). My particular doors pads were just big enough to add the following:

Door pad contents
Door pad contents

Though I couldn’t add much I still was able to add a few items that I felt could be most useful to me should I ever happen upon an accident. In this case, I included items that would allow ME to stay safe when dealing with others who could contaminate me while rendering aid but also to help avoid contaminating them. Of course, with Ebola being a concern that factored into wanting to add these particular items but, in reality, the more likely use of these safety items is for protection from general bodily fluids.

With that in mind, I added the following:

  • N95 mask x 2 – though even a basic face mask would work, I figured I had plenty of N95 masks and adding two could be useful for protection from bodily fluids in my mouth but for other uses too such as from airborne particulates.
  • Disposable latex gloves x 2 sets (kept in a sandwich bag) – I figured I should include two sets so that I could either put them both on myself for better protection or to give one set to a passenger.
  • Clear safety glasses – in the future I may want to upgrade these to goggles but at least glasses protect from direct hits to my eyes such as from somebody coughing up blood.
  • Emergency mylar blankets x 2 – I read somewhere that good Samaritans who cover a person with their jacket or other supplies can’t get them back when the EMTs arrive because they don’t know if the jacket you used is really yours or if you’re trying to steal it! As such, I figured adding two mylar blankets (of which I wholly despise by the way) would be a good compromise and I wouldn’t miss them whatever happens.
  • Compression bandage (e.g., Israeli bandage) – I thought both about adding a second compression bandage and/or a tourniquet but ultimately settled on just one bandage due to space restrictions.
  • Mini flashlight – obviously things happen at night too and being able to see in the dark is a must. I may eventually choose to swap this out with a headlamp so that I have both hands available.

And here’s what it looks like when added to my driver’s door pad:

doorpads-1
Supplies added to door pad

I’m still not sure if I want to keep the flashlight there since I already have a Maglite that’s next to the driver’s seat that’s easily within reach; Regardless, I may still add a headlamp since I have a few laying around. I might also choose to put the N95 masks in a bag to keep them from getting dirty or dusty over time. Other than the above I couldn’t think of much else to add.

Ultimately the idea was to add items that I may need at a moment’s notice within easy reach in order to respond to an accident and to keep me safe while doing so. What about you? What would you add?

How to Keep Your Most Valuable EDC Asset Safe and Secure

In my opinion, the ever-invasive cell phone is perhaps the most valuable EDC asset you have. Yup. I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for this as plenty of people feel you shouldn’t have any reliance on electronics during an emergency. Personally, I say be able to make use of any and all tools at your disposal and to NEVER rely solely on any one item.

With this in mind, a cell phone is a potentially great tool for disasters. No doubt the most obvious use is the ability to reach out for help either by calling or by text (usually the better option) but that means the cell towers must still function to some degree and that your call/text can get through when the lines are probably overloaded. These are both huge unknowns.

Moreover, I won’t try to lay out more potential reasons why a cell phone is still super useful for an emergency but, suffice-it-to-say that smartphones are more useful during an emergency than most people realize. This is with the understanding that you should be ready to deal with an emergency without it too.

This post is really about protecting your cell phone with an appropriate case and other tools to ensure it’s there when you need it most…

Considering that most people have smartphones, specifically an iPhone, we’ll focus on those. Now, my wife has had a iPhone for years whereas I’ve only recently upgraded. But beware that not all phone cases will work to protect your phone when you need it to the most. We know this first-hand. For instance, my wife once dropped her phone at just the right wrong angle and cracked the screen which we had to replace (that DIY fix sucks by the way).

She was using an inferior case–can’t remember what it is right now–and had since then upgraded to the Otterbox which is a solid case for the price and even comes in different colors:

The above is for a iPhone 4 case which is what we have but they certainly make Otterbox iPhone 5 Cases as well. You apparently do need to pay attention to your iPhone 5 model with the Otterbox for some reason or another. And if you have a Samsung Galaxy they make cases for those too.

As much of a fan of the Otterbox cases for protection as we are, I was recently introduced to a new PureGear DualTek Extreme Terrain iPhone 5 Case  to review but since neither my wife nor I own one, I shipped it off to my brother-in-law who had some good things to say about it:

First note that this case is the upgraded “extreme terrain” one. They make a significantly less expensive model if you prefer and, again, they come in multiple colors; depending on the color you can get a real bargain. The “extreme terrain” model appears to only come in two colors: black and blue.

FYI, here’s a few facts from Amazon about the extreme terrain case:

  • CERTIFIED IP65 RATING FOR DUSTPROOF AND WATER RESISTANCE
  • BUILT-IN SCREEN SHIELD
  • SHOCK ABSORBING CORNER IMPACT PROTECTION
  • SECURE AND COMFORTABLE GRIP
  • MILITARY STANDARD APPROVED

It’s designed to REALLY protect your phone! This is certainly a good thing in everyday life, particularly if you’re prone to dropping it, but definitely during an emergency situation. So here’s some things he mentioned that I remembered:

  • He liked the feel a lot. In fact, it looked an awful lot like my Otterbox case and may have been a bit slimer too. Considering that phones just get bigger and bigger (and so do cases) that would be a nice benefit.
  • The case comes with a built-in screen protector. This means no more messing around trying to get those silly bubbles out of the screen protectors. 🙂 I would have loved that! Apparently, he did as well.
  • For some reason he says that the case makes it easier to press (actually, I think you just touch it like the screen) the large home button at the bottom of the phone. I can’t see why that would be the case but that’s what he said.
  • He’s dropped it multiple times and never a problem. This would be a HUGE benefit to know your phone is going to be safe because if there’s ever a time when you’re likely to drop it, you’ll be in a hurry… or talking on it over the toilet. 😉

Apparently, the PureGear DualTek Extreme Terrain iPhone 5 Case is a quality solution and one that my brother-in-law liked a lot.

I also want to briefly mention the Kenu Security Leash which I was also sent to review but can’t and so I sent it to my sister-in-law. The idea is that it’s basically a bungeed case that can be tied to something like a zipper or belt loop.

I liked the thought and if the Kenu Leash were something that could be attached to other cases I would certainly recommend it but since you have to use the provided Kenu case, which I doubt compares in protection with the Otterbox or Dualtek for sure, I can’t.

Remember that you need to think about these types of things now. You may have never dropped your phone or feel that your case is “good enough” because you didn’t want to spend more money that you had to. I get it. We’ve been there. But also remember that when you need one of your most valuable EDC assets to be there when you really need it, you’ll be glad you bought a quality case.

I should also point out that the MOST likely “disaster” is the personal kind where something happens ONLY to you and not the entire grid. Something like getting a flat tire late at night on a desolate road, for example, would necessitate reaching out for help. I can almost guarantee that this when you’re going to drop your phone. 😉

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Source

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

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Source

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.

How to Make a Bucket Survival Kit, 34+ Items to Add to Your “Bucket List”

As I’ve been having fun at making water bottle survival kits recently I figured it only made sense to try a five-gallon bucket survival kit. After all, I LOVE buckets and think one can never have enough of them. 🙂 As you can see I was able to shove it all in there but to get the lid on required a bit of… persistence:

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Here’s what I was able to stuff and shove. I was going to number them but the numbers started to really get in the way so I’ll just list the items out roughly in order starting from the back and moving along like a page in a book:

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  1. Water bottles x 4 – I know I’ll take some slack for adding these but I find it hard to create any survival kit that I’m expected to take with me and NOT have among the most precious of resources as a part of the kit, that being water. If you knew that you would have a readily available water source then by all means ditch the water because it’s heavy and I’d hate for it to get punctured and spoil everything else. That said, these bottles were vacuum sealed to help with potential leakage issues.
  2. Freeze dried meals x 4 – I choose to include four freeze-dried meals, two by Mountain House and two by Wise Food. I could have added more but only if I removed other items. Personally, I think having a meal or two at the very least is a good morale booster. In the future I might have added small amounts of hard candies or gum.
  3. Tarp, 6×8 – Who knows why you might need a tarp but they’re super useful as a makeshift shelter. I choose a 6×8 because it fit well but I think I could shove an 8×10 if I tried. Get a ripstop tarp with grommet holes.
  4. N-95 dust masks – I’m not sure how truly useful these might be but they take up very little room so they got tossed in.
  5. Thermos king food jar, 16-ounces – I like my thermos and I refuse to leave home without it. 😉
  6. Water bottle survival kit – This was discussed about a month back and includes several items such as Bic lighters, stormproof matches, a bandanna, firesteel, Potable Aqua, mini multi-tool, duct tape, whistles, water filter straw, etc. Click the link to see all that’s included.
  7. Toilet paper – Your rear end will thank you for including even a small, smashed roll such as this.
  8. Work gloves – Who knows what you may need to grab onto or touch. Get a quality pair of gloves that fit your hands.
  9. Cold steel Tanto knife – This is a serious workhorse of a knife. If you expect to do any buschcraft work or for whatever reason you might need a quality knife, this is a good one to get.
  10. Gerber sliding saw – Knives are great for many reasons but small folding/sliding saws such as this just make procuring firewood that much easier.
  11. Mini crowbar – Not quite sure why this got tossed in there other than because I could. 😉
  12. Grundig shortwave radio (with batteries) – The ability to gather information about a disaster from local as well as far away sources is critical. Beyond that, if you can get some actual music from time to time there’s no harm in that either.
  13. Small flashlight (with batteries) – Lighting must be a bit more than a mini keychain light here. The Cree flashlights are great for the money, though, that’s not what’s included in this particular setup.
  14. Compass – Roads may be impassable or unrecognizable therefore forcing you off the beaten path. Use a compass to ensure you stay on course.
  15. Cyalume glow sticks x 4 – Though not my first choice, glow sticks can be a useful lighting addition. They don’t take up much room so I tossed in four. Go for green colors if you can as they’re best for use at night.
  16. Paracord, 25′ x 2 – Paracord, need I say more? I could have added more had I really tried and probably should have.
  17. Rain ponchos x 2 – What’s shown are some crappy ponchos from Walmart and, after thinking more about it, I should have included one for each person. I also understand trash bags can be used instead but rain ponchos are better if you can include them.
  18. Assorted medical supplies (and Israeli bandage) – There some disposable gloves, gauze, a few pills (such as Ibuprofen), and an Israeli compression bandage. You might also include any necessary Rx medications you or your family rely upon, at least a few days worth, if you can.
  19. 30-gallon trash bags, several – There are many uses for trash bags in a survival situation, including as a makeshift rain poncho. Adding several here shouldn’t be a big problem.
  20. Dorcy Headlamp (with batteries) – Headlamps are a super useful light source, especially for survival tasks. If you can afford it you should include more than one in your kits.
  21. Leatherman multi-tool – I much prefer the Leatherman Wave multi-tool as my EDC, what’s shown is something else (can’t remember which one it is). I guess you could choose to toss in some old hand tools instead as they won’t take up much room if you prefer but, most of the time, a multi-tool is the way to go.
  22. U-dig-it folding shovel – This particular shovel is great for camping or hiking. In this kit I might have tried to include a larger folding shovel but I started to run out of room.
  23. 2-way radios (and batteries) – These are great for keeping tabs on group members who may be off gathering wood, water, or whatever.
  24. Duct tape, flattened – It does everything. Buy quality duct tape at your local hardware store.
  25. Fire starting kit – This is out of one of my bug out bags and started out as a fire-starting kit but morphed into a kit to hold various small random items. Anyway, the fire-starting stuff includes things like Bic lighters, matches, a wallet Fresnel lens, fire-starting logs, and more. Yes, there’s a lot of fire starting stuff included between this kit and the water bottle kit.
  26. Pocket chainsaw – This probably isn’t necessary considering I already have the Gerber sliding saw mentioned previously but redundancy is always a good thing in survival and this particular saw comes in handy in some situations.
  27. Earplugs – This is a personal inclusion because I have a hard time sleeping, particularly in silence, but there may be other reasons to include ear plugs such as hearing safety.
  28. SAS Survival Guide – Is there a better wilderness survival book to reference? I’m not aware of one!
  29. The New Testament, pocket sized – If there’s ever a time to rely on scripture… it’s probably during/after an emergency.
  30. Strike on box matches, 250 count – Never hurts to have a lot of matches.
  31. Mylar blankets x 2 – I’ve never been a big fan of these blankets but they take up so little room I felt obligated to add them here.
  32. Candles x 2 – Similarly, I’m not a big fan of candles for emergencies since they’re a significant fire hazard. That said, they can provide both lighting and another way to sustain a fire, even a bit of heat if you’re desperate.
  33. Deck of playing cards – I can’t think of a better, compact way to pass the time than these if you have nothing better to do regarding keeping you alive.
  34. Needle, thread, safety pins – Used to patch or mend clothing, bags, tent, etc.

After looking over the list I realized I didn’t have any sort of sanitation supplies, such as soaps or wet wipes. That will have to be corrected in the future and wouldn’t take up much room. Moreover, I didn’t include anything to cook foods in (such as a pot or cup) or on (such as a folding camp stove) but I guess I could improvise by using rocks or whatever. This is especially necessary since I would have intended to boil water for the freeze dried meals. Other obvious items I’m missing would be clothing, weapons, ammo but I purposely didn’t try to add those. I think more batteries may have been good too.

Obviously, there are some items I could have removed and still be covered, such as the pocket chainsaw, headlamp, rain ponchos, etc. Similarly, there are items that are not 100% necessary, such as the playing cards, books, and thermos.

Overall, I’ve got quite a few supplies in a rather small space, more than I thought I could get in there. That, after all, is the beauty of making your own survival kits… you can include anything as you see fit. 🙂 Heck, make two buckets and get everything you want in them.

Whatever you choose to include, this bucket could easily be tossed in the back of your vehicle or stashed at a friends house if you like. Have you ever tried such a kit? What would you include?

How to Make an Improved Water Bottle Survival Kit

I had fun making the water bottle survival kit a few weeks back and I thought I would try one more time. This time I choose to use an old Sawyer Water Filter bottle (here’s a link to the newer version) such as this one 0n the left (as compared to the 16-ounce bottle from last time):

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Obviously, the Sawyer bottle is much larger (at 32-ounces if I remember right). As such, I should be able to get a lot more in there but there’s one big problem: the giant water filter element in the middle! Well, it’s kind of necessary since that’s the actual water filter so it must stay. Working around the filter element, here’s what I shoved inside:

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In no particular order:

  1. Cyalume Glow Sticks (pack of two) – I thought lighting is a bit more important than I suggested last time and since these fit well inside the bottle… in they went. The only caution is to be careful as you don’t want to accidentally snap them (thereby activating them) when placing inside.
  2. Emergency Mylar Blanket – Even though I absolutely despise these things I know some people swear by them and, even though I do NOT recommend them for their intended purpose, they do have other potential survival uses. That said, it was much easier to get inside than it was to get out. 😉
  3. Bandanna – As with last time I felt the bandanna was a good addition and so it went in here as well.
  4. Bic lighters x 2 – Last time I wound up adding two lighters and was only going to add one this time but they are about the easiest way for normal people to start a fire so I changed my mind again and went with two.
  5. Stormproof Matches – Like I said before, “if you’re going to add matches to a kit you may as well buy matches that you can rely upon.” I choose to only add one box this time around.
  6. Sweedish firesteel – This firesteel is easy to grasp and it fit without a problem; there are small ones if you prefer.
  7. Potable Aqua tabs – These don’t take up much room and it’s wise to have redundancy in a survival kit.
  8. Mini multi-tool – I thought about trying to add a larger multi-tool which, after this run-through now sounds like a better plan, but I wasn’t sure whether I would have been able to get them out without much trouble.
  9. Roll of duct tape – Again, duct tape is super useful and so the same small roll of duct tape I added last time was added here. Like before, I think it might be wise to add a slightly larger roll.
  10. Paracord (25′) – I realized after I wrote the last post that I didn’t include any cordage–not that I could have fit it inside–but I had room in this bottle and cordage is useful and so I added about 25 feet.
  11. Zip ties – like I said last time, I should have included some zip/wire ties so I did this time. They take up so little room there’s no reason not to!
  12. Keychain Whistle – You really only need one whistle and I choose to include the skinnier keychain whistle, though, I do prefer the Rescue Howler.
  13. Vaseline and cotton ball fire starters – I made these a while back and because fire-starting is so crucial to survival these will make that endeavor easier.

Unlike last time, I didn’t bother with including the Streamlight Nano flashlight (and mini USB drive) in the photo here but they are so small it wouldn’t have been a problem to add them. Also, because this water bottle had a water filter built in there was no need to include the McNett Frontier Water Filter Straw from last time.

Again, most of the basics are covered, from fire-starting to water and some gear. I like the addition of paracord, in particular, and I’d imagine somebody, somewhere, likes the mylar blanket. After thinking about it, I probably could have spent some time and wrapped the cord around the outside of the bottle thereby saving space but I wasn’t feeling THAT ambitious. 😉

Moreover, I think I would have preferred a larger multi-tool and after I’d taken these photos I found a set in one of my bags that would have worked out better than the mini multi-tool I used laste time… and I’m pretty sure I could have made the larger multi-tool fit along with everything else.

Like last time, I could have easily included other items such as a needle and some thread, safety pins, small fishing line, a compact compass and whatnot, among other small items since they could fill the cracks and crevasses.

Ultimately, these things are always a work in progress. And that is the real beauty of making your own survival kits: you can add precisely what you want so it fits YOUR needs.

Last, remember that a small survival kit like this is great for adding to a backpack, briefcase, or wherever you like since it won’t take up much room at all.

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