Friday, December 12, 2014

Apocatopia: Five Big Prepper Mistakes

Apocatopia: Five Big Prepper Mistakes

A mental trap that preppers often fall into is what I call Apocatopia which is nothing more than the delusional glorification of any situation that would require our serious preps to be called to into action. There will be nothing good about a societal reset and most likely you and your family will die. So pretending that the end will be a sunny new beginning is like finding joy in a car wreck because you can take time off of work while you’re in the hospital, or relishing about all the money you will save when your kids are dead. Any prepper who talks glowingly about a “Grid Dead” situation is a fake prepper and definitely someone to stay far away from now and later.

The Five Big Mistakes so-called preppers make are also great indicators of the sanity behind the stockpile. So use them wisely, and if you happen to have made any of the Big Five, there is still time to change your ways.

   Big mistake number one is being disappointed that your children are not behind your prepping efforts.  

What kind of Dick Tracy would think that inducting preemptive PTSD in a child is a good thing. It never turns out well when you tell a kid the world will end, or that his or her generation is will be gone, or that their friends will be killed, or a horrible future awaits them. Trust me, there will be plenty to time to get used to a dark future so don’t bother starting now while things are still bright. Give the kids a break and prep for them in silence. Growing up is hard enough without dad reminding you that nothing matters.

   Big mistake number two is gloating about how much better off you will be compared to your neighbors when society collapses.  

Way too many preppers fantasize about how great life will be sitting on their stockpile while the rest of the world starves. Well goody for you that you squirreled away a bunch of stuff. I’ll be the first to pat you on the back, but dreaming about doing your touchdown dance while the hoarding masses are fighting in the streets over a roll of toilet paper demonstrates a dangerous misunderstanding of the situation.

   Big mistake number three is expecting your prepping community to work out.  

When bellies are empty, all bets are off. Family ties are stronger than hunger, but not by much. And friendships created under duress are little more than convenient relationships and one-night-stands. Believing that your commune will be an Apocatopia is reason enough for me to avoid you like the plague.

    Big mistake number four is putting your faith in the almighty gun.  

Many gun-nuts use prepping as a justification of buy more arms and ammo. Likely fueled by visions of the old west, the gunslinger mentality trumps all useful skills. Well, let me break it to you, unless you have a purpose in Society 2.0, then you are a liability that will be dealt with swiftly. What the TV shows and self-published ebooks don’t tell you is while you’re following the hero on his foolish adventures, the rest of the survivors are working to fix the mess.

Just because you swing open the saloon doors and swagger up to the bar with your drop-leg holster sagging under the weight of a Desert Eagle doesn’t mean you have any right to exist. Any prepper hiding behind a gun is a liability. And since there are already enough useful mouths to feed, the daily housekeeping chores just might include tossing your carcass out with the trash.

    Big mistake number five is your meal plan.  

A nugget of prepper fool’s gold is that you should start eating your survival food now to see how it works out. The fallacy is that there will be very few choices when things collapse. You cannot eat what you do not have, and you will eat what you do have. Your body will deal with many massive challenges beyond the next meal. If you want to serve up your freeze-dried fritters now for a few dinners to see what comes out in 24, then be my guest. But  know that under real survival conditions your best made meal plans will be nothing more than fond memories.

Carrry on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fake Gold and Silver: Alchemy is alive and well in Prepperdom

One of the funniest things about Preppers hording gold and silver is that most preppers couldn't tell the difference between painted lead and real gold. Or aluminum coated iron and real silver.

Blame it on our educational system, or standardized testing, or whatever you want, but unless you know how to measure the density of irregular objects, you will be trading goods for fake precious metals.

Surprisingly, the topic at hand is taught somewhere between 7th and 11th grade. Measuring the volume and thus density of small odd shaped things is critical to knowing the true makeup of the material under investigation.

So if you don't how to measure the density of a material, yet alone the density of gold and silver, you better brush up on your scientific and mathematics skills, or folks like me will be trading you railroad spikes for food.

By the way, the density of gold is 19.31 grams per cubic centimeter, and silver is 10.501. I hope those numbers mean something to you. Your survival just might depend on it.

Carrry on.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Better Start Hunting Now

For the record, I've been hunting since I could first form lasting memories. I'm not bragging, but just stating a fact that has caused me some surprise recently. I was out walking the woods with some survivalist friends and was shocked...shocked I tell you! The supposed informed prepping friends were totally clueless about how to move, stalk and hunt in general.

It was obvious that their muscle memory and tactics were honed on video games and imaginary situations. For example, how fun would a video game be if you had to play it to exhaustion days on end in the hopes you will get one clean shot. Not to mention after the kill, the real heavy lifting begins.

The nice folks walking beside me were totally unaware of the greater environment surrounding them. It was clear that they considered a hunting trip just a dirt-covered urban war. Now I don't mean this in a mean way, but fighting a man is not the same as hunting four-legged big game. The prey's senses are different. The camo is different. The movements are different. And the reaction is different.

The amount of noise these guys made walking off-road was astounding. It was as if silence was a completely different planet. Not only could they not move silently, but they were completely unaware of what silence was in the first place. Every stick snap. Every branch brush. Every fabric scratch sounded like a bomb going off, but hardly raised an eyebrow to my friends.

I also could not believe how many game signs they missed, including the game itself. Flashes in the brush. Flicks of whitetail. Shadows that slowly move. And these guy thought they would just take up hunting when the S hit the Fan. No, they will take up starving as their new skill. And they will be very good at it.

So here's some help. In addition to my suggestion that if you want to hunt when the grid goes down, you better start hunting now to learn how. I also suggest you do you homework. If you cannot list a few dozen important traits of good hunting, here is some help:

Read it. Memorize it.

The other major thing I noticed while watching my friends "hunt" was that they expected to be able to stop, get ready, and then the game would magically appear in front of them. Not behind them. Not to the side. And not tomorrow. And even worse, they acted as if the game was on some sort of schedule so if nothing happened within five or ten minutes, not only would they give up, but they would talk loudly about it, and move about.

Now I'm not quite ready to blame Facebook or the iPhone, but these guys could not sit still, let alone quite for a solid 15 minutes in a row. I was hoping for at least a solid hour of perfectly still quite time, but here they were, restless as ever after a number of minutes you could count on your fingers!

In the end, I realized that these guys are normal. They are the new prepper, or Survivalist 2.0. Completely full of imaginary skills, but totally inept in real world experience. Hunting is an art. It takes practice. You must make mistakes, and the better you are, the smaller the mistakes you will continue to make.

Check out this video. Is this the next generation of hunter, let alone gun owner? Imagine this guy walking through the trees totally pissed off that the deer won't show themselves!

But if your belly is empty and you intend on shooting your next meal, just remember, the critters you are chasing have honed their skills and senses over millions of years. And you? 

That's what I thought.

And please be careful where you get your advice about hunting... Not everything you read on the Internet is true.

Carrry on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wolves are our friends

Who do you think will clean up all the corpses? Your mom?

The US is filled with wolf-hating survivalists, and that is a contradiction held by those ignorant of basic biology. When polite society takes a holiday, the garbage men still need to go to work. If they don't show up, no amount of food, fuel or firearms will protect you from the onslaught of bacteria and viruses just itching make you puke your guts out, or cough up your lungs, or crap yourself to death, or bleed out through your eyes.

In the case of gun fights, disease, and rioting, the same public services that are not providing security will also not be providing corpse disposal. And history has made it clear that rot and decay are the precursors to continued disease and contaminated water. In fact, corpses are such good vectors for disease that they were weaponized long ago sailing over the castle walls like catapult balls. Toss a couple of expired comrades into the aqueduct and wait a few weeks from a safe distance away. Bioterrorism is a centuries-old method of fighting. Just like dropping a hornet's nest into a spider hole, or releasing tigers into a cave, using death as a weapon is second nature in battle.

Predators, whether wolf, coyote or skunk will be the last line of defense between deadly microbes and your future. So show some respect for the critters that do the dirty work.

I could drive down the highway in any direction and find a dozen road-killed animals, mostly deer. The states of decay range from weekend-fresh, to month-old mummy. But after that the hair and bones are little more than the precursors to dust. And dust to dust means survival.

But if the repressed sportsman have their way, then the predators will be as rare as .22 long rifle ammo. And since the wolves and coyotes won't be around to clean up our mess, it won't just be the fecal matter hitting the fan, but also enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Hepatitis A and E, Leptospirosis, and Acute respiratory infections.

For workers routinely handling dead bodies 
• Ensure universal precautions for blood and body fluids 
• Ensure use and correct disposal of gloves 
• Use body bags if available 
• Wash hands with soap after handling dead bodies and before eating 
• Disinfect vehicles and equipment 
• Dead bodies do not need disinfection before disposal (except in case of 
cholera, shigellosis, or haemorrhagic fever) 
• The bottom of any grave must be at least 1.5 m above the water table, with a 
0.7 m unsaturated zone. 
Predators take the path of least resistance and will choose the dead over the living. Anytime a K9 challenges another animal, it risks injury itself. So an expired deer is preferred over one still alive and kicking.

So the next time your friendly survivalist or prepping neighbor talks about smoking a pack a day, remind him that the wolf may be the only thing between continued human life and gruesome drawn-out death. 

Tell your friend that killing predators is the same as killing the garbage man, the employes at the sewage treatment plant, and the hydrology engineers that guarantee fresh water every day. Sure, it makes good press, the bloody mouth of the wild dog ripping out the throat of someone's dead grandma, but in reality, it is also the delicate balance of nature. The same nature that will keep you alive if you let it.

So add another 'S' to the bumper sticker. Shoot, Shovel, Shut up, and Suffer.

Carrry on.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A TSA Compliant Bugout / Get Home Bag

If you tried to get through an airport security checkpoint with your bugout bag as a carryon, what would set off the alarms?

The obvious offenders would be your gun, your knives, your water, your pepper spray, and many of your tools. But happily, the list of what you can take past security is actually quite long. The TSA lists the things on its no-fly list in this brochure: TSA Prohibited Items 

While I am quick to buy prohibited items after I land including a knife and lighter, some notable TSA approved carryon-able items include one book of safety matches, sub 7-inch tools including screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers, and scissors plastic tips and blades of less than four inches. 

Of course the absolute decision of whether or not any given item is allowed through security rests with the on-site security agents, so nothing is in stone, and much may depend on your presentation and attitude, and perhaps the mood of any given agent. So don't count on everything you see on the TSA's website or read in a prepper's blog.  Add to this the variety of different country's airports and the rolling global security alerts, and your mileage may vary wildly.

I know I’m not alone when I curse bin Laden’s name every time I have to endure the airport security lines and screenings, but I’ve also traveled enough to feel comfortable with the limits place upon me. But no, I'm not happy about it. And I also know I’m not alone when it comes to wondering just what would happen if another 911 forced my plane to land somewhere completely unexpected.  Or that I’m just one or two engine failures away from a hard landing in snowy mountains.

Two directions of BOB thinking can be combined into one effective collection of TSA approved items increasing your chance of survival or making it back home. One line of thought is surviving long enough to be rescued, and the other is fighting your way back home.

But first some tips. Consider what you should have on your person compared to in your carryon bag. In an emergency situation you better not be clogging my exit with your backpack. So after I am though security, I rearrange my gear and pocket the most important items. I also have a smaller “murse” or man-purse that can be accessed quickly, carried easily, and won’t impede my way to the closest exit, which may be behind me.

Many traditional BOB ingredients are just fine, but the size or quantity may need to be reduced. Plus you should adjust your outerwear for the season or potential flyover areas. 

My TSA compliant BOB / GetHome bag includes at a minimum, the following, with my brand/model suggestions actively linked. However, it is important to note that this list has air travel and airport security in mind. The actual individual items would most certainly change if the TSA were out of the equation. I have had international travel experience with all the items, never encountered a problem. A few odd looks, but no problems.

The list:

-Two small to medium water bottles (you can fill them after passing through the security checkpoint). The smaller sizes are easier to fill and stow.
-Powerbar-type foods, nuts, gum, and the ultimate food Omnibars.

-Duct tape
-Flashlight (with AA batteries)
-Headlamp (with AA batteries)
-Cell phone with extra battery pack (charged)
-AM/FM/weather radio like the Sony SRF-M37V with earbuds (with AA batteries)
-TSA compliant scissors
-GPS with maps chip (with AA batteries)
-Titanium cup (can cook/boil water in it over fire)
-Book of matches in watertight bag.
-Ferrocerium rod
-Zip ties
-Soap, small bar
-Aspirin or other pain reliever
-Foam earplugs
-Fisher Space Pen
-Small first aid kit
-Sanatary wipes/alcohol sanitizer
-Micro-sized Fishing kit
-2 Carabiners
-Three yards of half-inch tubular webbing
-Tactical Pen (but not too tactical)
-Schrade titanium pry tool (hardly a “pry bar” at 
only 3.25 inches)
-Two 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bags
-Leather gloves
-Drop pouch for fast storage (I recommend 5.11)

You should also wear comfortable and durable walking shoes, and natural fiber shirt, pants, and socks (most non-natural fibers melt around fire).

The above items, along with my usual travel garb and tech are divided into three categories: those things on me (think in pockets or worn around the neck, wrist or waist),  those things in my murse (which is often a Maxpedition or SpecOps organizer), and those in my traditional carryon bag/backpack.

Those things on me include the TSA compliant Leatherman, the tactical pen, cell phone, flashlight, watch, Ferrocerium rod, and the pry tool.

Those things in my murse include some but not all the powerbars/Omnibars, paracord, duct tape, headlamp, water purification tablets, scissors, compass, GPS, Tinder Tabs, first aid kit, some zip ties, micro fishing kit, pliers, notebook, one freezer bag, bandana, Fisher Space Pen, Buff mask, one particulate mask, and one carabiner on the outside.

All the rest goes in my normal carryon bag. Speaking of which, here are my rules of thumb for a carryon bag.

First, you must be able to wear it without holding on to it so you can run and climb using both hands. I prefer technical climbing backpacks or higher-end computer backpacks when flying. Tactical backpacks are fine when on your home turf.

Your carryon should not attract undue attention from either color or tacticalness. Some airport security (mostly outside the US) take special interest in military-looking luggage, so take it easy on the molle, morale patches, flags, OD green, and camo.

Put the items most likely to attract attention by security screeners in obvious places or even outside the bag. This includes the tactical pen (during the security check I often have it in the writing position with the cap off), the pry tool, the scissors, pliers, the Leatherman, and the water bottles. The titanium cup might also need a second look so that is a good one to clip to the outside of your pack for it's journey through the x-ray machine. Then please promptly stow it back in your pack so you don't look like one of those goofy Hollywood actor-types appear like a seasoned hiker with a cup clanking around as you walk.

What you do want is to have the TSA easily see questionable items, and find them quickly when searched for. You cannot win an argument with the TSA agents so be prepared to loose your item, or possibly mail it back home--a service offered in some airports. In other words, don't pack any heirloom-quality survival tools.

I’ve had good luck attaching the Leatherman and the pry tool to my car keys, sending the water bottles through on their own, and putting the tool-like stuff in with my computer cables or camera equipment. You don’t want to appear to be hiding anything, or potentially be up to something nefarious. You’re just a seasoned road warrior, which is exactly right. Right?

The final tip is to use your brain and trust your instincts. I cannot count the number of times my flights have deviated from their intended courses whether in schedule, landing site, travel comfort, or inflight emergency. 

In the past I’ve requested a different flight because I didn’t like the way the maintenance workers were looking at my plane. I’ve asked and received flights to different arrival cities when the connecting flights became unusable. And I am quite practiced in the art of sleeping in airports and train stations where a quick analysis of traffic flow, food services, bathroom proximity, lighting, power outlets, and walls and corners to my back will ensure I have the best option when it's obvious this is the end of the line for today. Oh, and have plenty of cash on hand in various currencies, but especially good old American greenbacks.

And yes, I was on this Delta flight: Chaos at the Cape Town Airport

A couple juicy tidbits left out of the news story include the pilot got typhoid fever while visiting an orphanage. There were no on-site agents able to make decisions so all communication had to go through HQ in Atlanta (middle of the night there, BTW). The plane's flight number was changed so all tickets had to be re-booked so absolutely no connecting flight reservations were maintained  No hotels were booked that night (like you could book 300 hotel rooms at 1 am anyway). Surface transportation was unavailable for many hours. And my all-time favorite, we had already boarded the plane before the announcement was made that we were missing a pilot…which meant we already cleared customs…which meant we were technically not in any country…which meant we could not deplane since customs is a one-way street…which meant we sat for an hour before someone figured out that we could deplane onto a bus, then drive around the tarmac to the arrival gates where customs could process us again into South Africa. And only then could we truly appreciate being stuck without a plan at the southern tip of the world. While hardly a survival situation, it did highlight our personal vulnerability, and dependency on bureaucratic absurdities nine timezones away. 

Once in the air, we had back-to-back eight hour flights with only a refueling stop in Dakar. No deplaning in Senegal  however. Just open plane doors to let in the malaria infected mosquitoes in, and where we could stand at the door threshold looking down 20 feet to the pavement with nothing but a two-inch strap strung across the doorway. Yes folks, the rules seem to change with the country. We landed at JFK at 2 AM. Nobody home. Not surprising really after all the half-truths and non-truths we were fed during the flight.

I remember standing next to the pilot outside the terminal as he was yelling into his cell phone to get some help out here. Two hours later the first shift of Delta agents arrived to discover 300 rather angry passengers. In true airport form, more workers were immediately brought in, but they were armed security guards ready to enforce the peace.

In the end, it just confirmed that even though you are packed into a metal tube with 300 other people, you are also totally on your own.

Carrry on.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Best Prepper Bugout Gun: A case for the Glock 26

The blogosphere is littered with high energy beliefs by hardcore opinionators who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Aimpoint is better than EOTech, and a .40 is better than a 9, and there is no reason on earth to carry a .380, and a .308 is always better than a .223, and billeted receivers stomps forged ones into the ground. 

Well, whatever. But I am here to tell you that the single best bugout gun is a Glock 26.

Don’t worry. I am fully aware of the near-heresy of the 26 as a do-all-end-all, but hear me out. Let’s take the long view for a moment. The really long view like when the tritium in your Trijicon has raised daughter isotopes of its own. If things truly head south-and I mean polar south, you will need at least one firearm that without exception meets these requirements: 1) is the most dependable, 2) eats the most common size and brands of ammo, 3) takes the widest variety of magazines, 4) most serviceable, strippable, and cleanable, 5) highest size to accuracy ratio, 6) is small enough to carry everywhere you go regardless of situation or dress, and 7) intensely simple to operate.

I know the all usual complaints about Glocks in general and the 26 in specific, but unless you are comparing the 26 to the 19 or 17, save the complaints for when times are good. It won’t be pretty where we are going, and if you have any hesitations that we will be going there then I cannot help but wonder why you are reading this.

Bugging-In affords you all the gun and ammo storage you can dream of, but a true bugout carries significant penalties when weight, size and dependability are compromised. You can’t run your fastest with a Desert Eagle strapped to your leg. You cannot draw quickly when your H&K is in its protective case because it’s pouring rain. Instead, what you need is an ugly workhorse of a gun that never complains, never gets sick, never asks for help, and never ever fails to go bang. The Glock 26 is designed for only one purpose: to punch holes in people every single time it is called upon to do so. Every-single-time!

It is highly unlikely that you will ever need to fire a shot at another human during your bugout, but that is not what you plan for, it is what you hope for. By the way, if you have something in your bugout bag that is worth dying for, I’d like to know about it. In most cases, the firearm will be the most expensive item in a bugout bag, but not likely the most useful.

The 26 is affectionately known as the Baby Glock. While it is small for a Glock, it not the smallest (that honor now belongs to the 42), and there are many of other 9mm pistols out there that are smaller in one dimension or another. But regardless of it’s diminutive size, the 26 will accept any Glock 9mm magazine, and many aftermarket high capacity mags as well bumping your capsules of potential energy into the three figures.

Quick question, would you rather carry a box of ammo, or a loaded magazine of ammo? It’s a no-brainer. So for general carry, run a stock G26 mag loaded with 10 rounds, or perhaps with one or two more shells if you want the extended grip mag. Then stuff 33 more FMJs or hollow points each into of a pair of Glock brand high cap mags. I’ll do the math for you, that’s 76 rounds ready to go with just two mag changes. And this Baby will chew its food all day long without so much as a burp, stovepipe or jam.

Believe me, if you get yourself into a situation where 10 rounds is too few, then you won’t mind when your Baby grows into a man with 33 more reasons for the threat to choose lesser prey.

In addition to magazine interchangeability, a holster for a larger 9mm Glock will easily consume the 26. A popular preferred carry option is the Blackhawk Serpa, and I concur. I really hate it when I’m hanging upside-down  and have to wonder if my holster's grip on my gun is stronger than gravity. The Serpa has an index finger release button that smoothly lets go of the pistol only when you give the command. Not a second before or after. 

Imagine all the scenarios where a friction-fit holster could fail. Like taking a pretty good dive while running through the woods at night. Or crashing your bugout bicycle. Or getting into a little hand-to-hand with a critter. Or rolling your bugout vehicle, or falling down a mountain, or slipping in the sewer, or jumping from roof to roof, or unsuccessfully fording a river, or the least glamorous but most likely event, falling down the stairs.

The Serpa type of holster is critical if you have to mount the holster on anywhere else but a belt or pant waist. Backpacks have an up orentation only when you wear them, not when exhausted you drop it to the ground. Maybe you need to rig a chest harness to hold your piece while the real estate around your waist is compromised by position or activity like rowing a boat, or paddling a kayak, or bicycling with a backpack, using a climbing harness, wearing ill-fitting clothes, or wrapping yourself up in a sleeping bag or blanket. Do you really need me to go on?

If you need more retention, or worry about the placement of the release button being so close to the trigger, Safariland has options. Here's a take on holster security:

Strangely, for a gun known world-wide as a Baby, the accuracy of the 26 is not an issue either. In fact some multi-Glock owners have noticed that their groups are tighter with a 26 than with their 17 or 19. So if you can hit it with a larger pistol, then you can hit it with a 26. End of story.

The reliability of Glock is also a non-issue. End of that story too.

Cleaning and maintenance? Two more non-issues.

As far as I care, you are more than welcome to own, carry, and shoot any gun you like. But as the herd thins out when the rules take a holiday, you are going to need…make that demand perfection from you gun. My suggestion: Glock 26 Perfection.

Carrry on.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pawn Shop Prepping

I don't know about where you live, but around here the pawn shops and second hand stores are filled with top drawer equipment that would make any prepper overbuy. As an experiment, I entered one of my fair city's finest stores of the pawn shop/second hand/junk store variety and pulled out a classic listing of  BOB essentials. Within 20 minutes, I had a high-end pack filled with high-end equipment albeit a little dirty, used and in some cases a touch smelly.

For obvious reasons, I skipped down a few items on the list leaving food and water, etc. for safe acquisition elsewhere.

Starting with a bag, I had a range of top brands to choose from. These weren't tactical bags, but rather of the climbing and backpacking genera. Gregory, Osprey, Lowe, The North Face, and Arctery'x were all possibilities. I chose a rather vintage Lowe travel pack for it's large size, versatility, but most of all, low price due to its age and condition since that is the point of this exercise.

There was a small selection of tents, and I could have had my way with any one of them. Fortunately I am already well stocked in tents, but for this experiment, I imagined that I picked up an elderly but still quite operational North Face 3-season tent complete with stakes and ground cloth.

I eyed the sleeping bags, and opted to shop around. Outside the gross factor, a used sleeping bag is always a gamble so I moved that item over on the list by the food and water. The sleeping pads, however, were another story. I found a mint condition ultralight ThermaRest, and a new-in-the-package folding foam pad.

Near the sleeping bags and backpacks sat a barrel full of fishing rods. A sharp eye is needed to quickly discriminate between the quality and the junk, the broken and the bent, and those mismatched like a cheap rod with a excellent reel. I was able to mix and match components myself netting a fine 4-piece fly rod, reel with quality line, and handful of flies for literally pennies on the dollar. Plus a rod case and fly box tossed in the deal as long as a few dents and some wear didn't bother me. I also grabbed a small open-face spinning reel and telescoping rod. A small yellow pocket tackle box filled with hooks, bobbers, spinners, and a couple other lures was tossed in the mix, again for pennies on the dollar rounding out the fishing side of things.

Down the isle were glass cases filled with an assortment of valuable prepping hardware. The only problem was the treasures were mixed in with piles of pure crap, Chinese knockoffs, and the seriously damaged goods of someone else's adventurous life.

The fun thing about pawn shop prepping is that often the prices for a category of item are relatively fixed regardless of brand, model, features, or even condition. I chose two multi-tools, one a Leatherman Skeletool, and the other a Gerber something or other that looked, felt, and operated perfectly.

In the knives, I got a Spyderco Endura folder and a Kershaw fixed blade hunting knife and sheath. Also in the case were a selection of sharpening stones and devices. I chose a combination sharpening kit by Smiths. There were a few SOG knives to choose from, but alas, SOG like some other companies including Gerber, Cold Steel, and Kershaw have chosen to produce some really low end stuff. In pawn shop language that translates into not worth much without some stellar pedigree. Unless I can do my internet homework before buying, I avoid SOG especially. I might miss out on a great deal, but I could just as easily pay more than retail for a POS Chinese-made knife. You cannot go wrong with Spyderco and Benchmade. Period. In this case, the Kershaw was made in Japan and predated plastic blister packaging.

The flashlight selection was a little sparse when it came to quality. No Surefires in here. But a bright yellow 4-AA cell LED Streamlight was had for a song. No batteries so it was a leap of faith until tested. But the Petzl headlamp did have batteries so that cinched the deal on that one.

There were a handful of pistols and revolvers to choose from. If I was actually going to follow through on the whole Pawn Shop Prepping exercise, I would have chosen an older and rough looking Ruger Mark II .22 auto with six inch barrel and extra 10 round mag, and a Taurus 9mm pistol with one mag. I am not much of a Taurus fan, but in this part of the experiment, beggars can't be choosers. Of course I could just walk across the street to another pawn shop and pick up a Glock in one flavor or another, but this experiment requires patronizing only one store. That's why it's an experiment.
 Digging through the ubiquitous box of holsters, I found two that fit, and will easily work for my needs. Had I really bought the guns, I'm sure the holsters would have been thrown in gratis. And maybe even a leather belt.

No padded case, however, was available for the Nikon Monarch binoculars, but the price was low enough to overlook the light scratches on the lenses, and the slight play in the diopter adjustment. Just make sure the alignment is perfect. Many pawn shop binos have been dropped. I have even held a pari of Swarovski Els to my eyes only to grimace with the double vision of misaligned tubes. Yours for only slightly below retail. I'm sure they will make some eBay shopper happy since that's where much of the pawn shop high end goes, with the nice guns listed on

Digging around deeper, I found an old MSR multi-fuel camp stove with fuel bottle and two pots. The Silva Ranger compass with clinometer was, in my second hand store jaded opinion, priced a little high, but I'm sure when the cash register bells settle down after ringing up my BOB, I'll get a better deal.

For fun, I picked out a vintage stick match holder and orange whistle I was allowed to remove from a used PFD. I found a couple carabiners as well. A word of caution here: never buy used climbing equipment from an unknown source. In my case, these carabiners will serve more domestic needs, but in a life-or-death situation, I don't think they'll let me down...literally.

In the tools area, I found three essentials, all Craftsman; an 8-in-one combination screwdriver, a 6-inch adjustable wrench, and pair of slip-joint pliers. I also found a Estwing hatchet that had seen better days...much better days, but I knew a few rounds with Mr. Grinding Wheel would put Mr. Estwing back on the straight and narrow. You see, the good thing about used equipment is that it can appear in such bad condition to seem almost worthless, but with just a little elbow grease, it's back in top working condition regardless of how many beauty pageants it had lost.

A pleasant surprise awaited me in one of the tool bins, so much so I had to contain my excitement since no price was listed on the item. It was a Silky Pocket Boy folding saw. The handle was dirty, but the blade looked unused. If you somehow have escaped knowing about Silky saws, they are some of the finest folding hand saws in the world. Made in Japan, you can choose from many different blade tooth configurations and lengths. They are legendary for long saw life, and handle quality.

There was also a machete available. It needed some work, but since a machete is not very high, or even on my bug out bag checklist, I noted its availability and moved on. Strangely, a used machete costs the same or more as a new one.

Like the sleeping bags, I passed up on the selection of two water filters. As an experiment, it was good to know such an opportunity was present, but still, there were too many unknowns with the filters to risk it. But in a pinch, I'd be first in line to buy one for the $10 or so it would cost regardless of brand and condition. Same with used water bottles.

On the electronics side, a pair of Midland walkie-talkies, an older Garmin eTrex GPS and Oregon Scientific emergency weather radio could be had for a song--and out-of-tune one at that.

In the end, I proved my point. For a very minimum of cash it is possible to outfit a heck of a nice bug out bag. A trip to the Goodwill would round out the cookware, can opener, extra clothes, and outerwear.

Now this was just an exercise in availability of inexpensive but quality items common to Bug Out Bags. However, any given pawn shop or second hand store only has a few of each item on hand, if that, so a mad rush to the used stores by the populace will only net a few well-stocked BOBs.

My suggestion is to do it now. Or tomorrow if the stores are already closed today.

Carrry on.