Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why You Should Add A Machete To Your Survival Kit!

Machetes can be a game changer in a survival 
situation, and not just for cleaving zombie heads! 
Depending on your choice in machete, a machete can 
be terrific for chopping, slicing, carving, cleaving and 
Machetes are far more useful tools for survival than many realize. When most bushcraft and survival enthusiasts think of standard core survival/bushcraft tools, we tend to immediately picture fixed blade survival knives, bushcraft saws and hatchets or axes (amongst others). While a machete isn't absolutely necessary, you might be surprised at how much a machete truly can add to your survival tool kit. Machetes are extremely versatile tools and can be considerable "game changers" in a survival situation.

In skilled hands, a machete (depending on the design you ultimately choose) could arguably replace your knife and your hatchet! With the right machete you can chop wood, do fine carving, strike a ferro rod and many of the other tasks that you do with your knife, hatchet and axe! With a well chosen machete you can go from chopping directly to intricate carving without having to switch tools! This may not sound like a big deal, but when you need to construct a survival shelter with only a few hours of sunlight left, this can make a huge difference!

Above are three popular "machetes". The top is the Ka-Bar 
Kukri. The bottom is our favorite machete, the Cold Steel 
Gurkha Kukri. In the middle is the Ontario RTAK II. The 
RTAK II is technically not a machete, but we love using this
large knife like a machete. 
One challenge you will likely encounter immediately upon choosing to add a machete to your kit is determining... which machete is right for you? Just like with knives and axes, there are many types/styles of machetes, many brands and quite a range in terms of pricing. So which styles are best suited for your survival/bushcraft needs? What materials should your machete be made of? Which brand should you choose? And how much should you spend?

Choosing the right machete is mostly determined by how you plan to use your machete and where. Do you plan on using it primarily in the jungle? In the woods? In an urban environment as a self-defense tool or weapon? As a zombie eliminator? Determining this will help you narrow down your options considerably for choosing a machete design/style that best suits your needs.

The famous Latin style machete.
The quintessential traditional machete (the style seen in movies and used in the jungle to clear paths of grasses, vines and vegetation) is known as the Latin Style Machete. It is a long and straight machete designed to effectively clear away brush, briars, vines, grasses and more. It is not a very effective wood chopper, but it excels at most other light and medium tasks. The Latin style machete is the machete traditionally used by the U.S. military. Latin style machetes are great tools, but they may not be the ideal choice for a survival machete. Fortunately we have other options available to us!

The Bolo style machete adds a little 
extra punch for chopping.
The Asian Bolo Machete is similar to the Latin Style, but it has a notable performance upgrade. The Bolo Machete has added heft and weight toward the working end of the machete giving it much more of a punch for brute force chopping. The Bolo Machete, like it's Latin cousin, is a trailblazing machine with considerably more backbone. While the Bolo is a dependable chopping workhorse, it is not nearly as effective as other machete styles for more intricate tasks. This makes the Bolo a bit less versatile than other machete styles. The African Panga is very similar in nature to the Asian Bolo.

The popular and versatile kukri.
The Kukri Machete is a Nepalese design that has become extremely popular as of late. The kukri is actually considered an all purpose utility knife by the Nepalese people (much like the puukko is the everyday knife of Finland), but the larger versions of this knife are commonly sold around the world as machetes. The kukri has become extremely popular as a machete for good reason. It's inwardly curved edge, sharp point and innate balance due to it's shape and proportions make it a versatile tool, effective chopper, and a excellent weapon. The kukri in our view is easily the most versatile of all the machete styles as the outer edge of the blade is incredibly effective for chopping while the inner blade is outstanding for more intricate work and cuts. None of the other popular machete styles or designs touch the kukri in terms of versatility.

Large Bowie style knife.
There are a number of other machete styles that we could cover in detail, but the ones we have covered above are the most common and popular styles. One last "machete style" (in quotes because it is not technically a machete but is often used like a machete) worth mentioning is the American Bowie Knife. We include this famous American knife tradition on this machete page for several reasons.

While the Bowie is a large knife as opposed to a machete, it has much in common with the popular kukri. The Bowie is a "king sized" multipurpose knife that has great chopping and slashing abilities, but the Bowie's design allows it to also be used for processing game and skinning! It is also a terrific weapon. We realize that we are taking some liberties by including the Bowie very loosely in the "machete" category, but the Bowie is arguably the closest thing to an American version of a machete. Just as the kukri is truly a utility knife yet loosely included in the machete category, the Bowie knife could easily be treated the same way. 

So how much should you spend on a machete? Machetes come in a range of prices starting at around $10 and climb up from there into hundreds of dollars and more. Part of determining what you should spend on a quality machete obviously depends on what you can afford. Most of the same rules that apply to knives in terms of price, quality, craftsmanship, construction, materials, etc. apply to machetes as well.

Here is just one example of the difference between our
$50 Ka-Bar Kukri and our $150 Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri.
Asyou can see, the Ka-Bar on the left is a flat piece of
metal from handle to tip. The Cold Steel Kukri on the
right has a nicely tapered blade that improves the balance
in your hand incredibly. This means that your hand and
arm experience far less fatigue as you use the Cold

We cannot emphasize enough how much this Cold Steel 
Gurkha Kukri is worth every single penny that it retails
Remember the old adage "You get what you pay for". Some folks opt for the cheapest machetes and are perfectly happy with them. They don't see the point in spending more than $10 on a machete... until they actually have an opportunity to use a higher quality machete. Some of the cheaper machetes are basically sheet metal with an edge on them. Make sure you take a close look at the materials your machete is made of and its construction/design.

A quality machete is going to be your friend for years to come. Fair quality machetes tend to cost around $25 to $50. I would recommend spending at least this much on your machete. If you are interested in a truly high quality machete made of quality materials and of a design that will excel in performance and last you for decades as a reliable tool, then spending $100 or more on a machete is far from out of the question and is something you should absolutely consider if you can afford it. $100 or more for a machete may sound expensive, but a $150 dollar machete can truly be a dream to use as opposed to a $50 machete. It really can make a difference. 

Machetes that are $200 or more tend to be more high-end collectors blades for special tactical purposes or with various handcrafted details that aren't necessary or even significantly helpful in the woods. Sure, we'd all love to have one, but these high end machetes are beyond what most of us truly need in terms of satisfying that "quality useful tool" void that most of us are aiming to fill by acquiring a machete. They are "drool factor" blades. That being said, if you can afford a really nice quality tactical or custom machete for your collection, then by all means go for it! 

Word of advice: Don't buy a machete just because it looks cool. Stay away from machetes with "Zombie" in their names. These are marketed to be novelty items as opposed to effective tools. Evaluate your prospective machete in terms of performance, quality in design and materials, comfort, balance and ease of use. You want a machete that is a pleasure to use and excels as a practical tool for the purposes you intend to use it for.

Now that you understand the asset a machete can be in a survival situation, it's time to choose yours! Here are three that we have tested and recommend!

The Ka-Bar Kukri is a great "entry level" quality machete at a reasonable price. While this machete may not have the balance, comfort and performance the next two do, it will get the job done.
The RTAK-II, Micarta Handle, Plain, w/Sheath, while not truly a machete, is a terrific chopper that we love using as a machete. While not nearly as well balanced as the Cold Steel, this thing is a chopper.
The Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri Kraton Handle is our absolute favorite machete by far. While more expensive than the other two models, this one is worth every penny in terms of comfort and performance!
Want to see some more really killer machetes?? Yes, some of them are "drool factor" blades, but they are still fun to look at! Maybe some machete tutorials? Tips and tricks? Check out our Machete Pinterest board to see more machete amazingness!

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Machete on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why You Should Master The Art Of Feather Stick Making!

Mastering the art of feather stick making is a terrific way to 
process dry tinder and hone your knife skills... and it's lots
of fun!
Feather sticks (also known as fuzz sticks) are a popular bushcraft activity/skill to master for a number of very practical reasons. Feather sticks are not only a terrific improvised source of tinder, but making feather sticks dramatically improves your knife skills! These two reasons alone make mastering feather stick making a must for every survival and bushcraft enthusiast!

Quality feather stick curls are paper thin and can be ignited with merely a spark from a fire steel or ferro rod. Even less-than-optimal feather stick curls can be tremendously helpful in a survival situation, but the finer and thinner you can shave your feather stick curls the better! All you have to do is spend a little time working on your technique and practice and you should be able to get paper thin curls in no time!

The primary bushcraft/survival benefit of learning to make quality feather sticks is that this skill gives you the ability to process dry tinder even in wet conditions. As we all know, when conditions are wet it can be really challenging to forage natural dry tinder. In wet or damp conditions, being able to make a few feather sticks allows you to process dry tinder when dry tinder cannot be found or foraged. This can be a game changer in terms of creating fire and can literally be the difference between having a fire and going without!

Not only are feather sticks a tremendous way to process dry tinder, they are also a fantastic way to hone and finesse your knife skills. It takes considerable skill and control to make quality paper thin curls on a feather stick and it's something that takes some practice and technique. It takes an extremely delicate touch, but anyone can master it with some practice and proper technique. It's one thing to baton a beefy knife through a log to process it down into kindling. It's quite another to have the ability to leverage your knife with finesse and delicacy to process a typical stick into paper-thin tinder that can ignite with just a spark!

A few variables are required for optimal feather sticks. First, you must have a quality (not necessarily expensive) sharp knife. Feather sticks can be made with a number of different types of outdoor knives, but some types of knives work much better than others. We have found that a "scandi" grind (beveled) blade tends to work better than other types of grinds. Also, fixed blade knives tend to work better than folders for this application.

Wood type is another variable that will impact the quality of your feather stick curls. Try different types of woods. Green sticks are even easier to shave and curl than dry sticks, but unfortunately the moisture content in green sticks is higher making them more difficult to ignite with just a spark. That being said, even green sticks dry out very quickly once they are feathered... so making a few feather sticks out of green wood and setting them in the wind and sun can dry them out overnight or even in a few hours improving their ignition point. Dry woods are definitely preferred for producing immediately available tinder. The size, shape, length and diameter of your wood will also impact the quality of your feather sticks. There are a number of schools of thought on these variables, so try several and learn which variables work best for you.

Technique is a huge variable in the feather stick equation. There are a number of ways to approach feather stick making (general technique), but several common variables in feather stick making seem to produce better results regardless of the general technique that you end up preferring. A firm grip of your knife (much like the grip you'd use to hold the handle bar on your mountain bike), a locked wrist and elbow are also key to your technique as you push through your wood with long strokes powered by your shoulder are key to nice long curls. Angle of the blade as you glide down your stroke can change the dynamic of your curls as well. Angling your blade to the left or right as you push through tends to make your curls travel in like direction into nice elongated spirals as opposed to tight overlapping curls, allowing your curls to access more air which is ideal for ignition. Another tip is to use the curved part of your knife blade for best results.

Here's a great feather stick video tutorial from the bushcraft legend Mors Kochanski!:

So what does a "textbook" optimal feather stick look like? Here is an illustration from Mors Kochanski's Bushcraft book to use as a guide for your feather sticks and how to evaluate your technique and curls for optimal results:

From Mors Kochanski's book, Bushcraft, examples (left to right) of best 
feather stick results compared to worse feather stick results
Now don't get discouraged if your early attempts at feather stick making don't result in a huge blossom of gorgeous paper-thin curls. It takes practice getting the proper technique down! Don't give up! Also, "textbook" feather sticks have all of their curls intact and attached to the stick they are shaved from... but this is not required. Even loose curls make wonderful tinder (Tip: Collect your loose curls in a hat or container to keep them off the damp ground and keep them dry)! Keeping your curls attached to the original stick merely adds to the fun of the challenge and demonstrating additional skill. It's lots of fun to practice improving your technique and make adjustments to your blade angle, draw length, etc. to produce thinner and curlier feather sticks. You will see your results improve dramatically with practice!

One last reason to learn to feather stick: Quality feather sticks are simply a thing of beauty! The tight delicate curls of finely shaved feather sticks are absolutely gorgeous! They are like small curled paper sculptures that look magical in the light of the sun and fire. The ability to transform a typical "boring" stick into a bloom of gorgeous paper-thin curls is an impressive skill that even your friends will admire! Doing it right in front of them will elicit a response that is almost like executing an impressive magic trick!

So next time you find yourself with a little extra time, a knife and some wood, try your hand at some feather sticks! Feather sticks are a really great way to hone your knife skills, process tinder for fire and spend a little time relaxing in the outdoors!

Let us know what you think about feather sticks! Got any tips or tricks of your own you'd like to share? Can you think of any other great reasons to learn feather stick making? Let us know with your comments below!

Want to see some more examples of gorgeous feather sticks? Check out our Feather Stick Pinterest board below!

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Feather Sticks (Fuzz Sticks) on Pinterest.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Why A Bug Out Trailer Should Be A Part Of Your Preps!

Have you considered a bug out trailer as part of
your preps? Well perhaps you should!
Bug out vehicles are extremely popular with preppers, survivalists and preparedness enthusiasts, but have you considered a bug out trailer to compliment your bug out vehicle with? Well, for a number of reasons... perhaps you should!

Let's talk about some of the advantages of having a bug out trailer over simply having a bug out vehicle. For starters, you can deck out your bug out trailer in ways that allow you to NOT have to deck out your vehicle with gear and all sorts of survival trappings. Let's face it... we can't all afford to have a designated bug out vehicle. We use our vehicles every day for all sorts of daily life tasks like commuting to work, hauling kids, picking up groceries, going out to dinner and everything else we all do throughout a given week. It's tricky to design a vehicle to meet all of your survival needs AND have it meet all of your other daily needs. So what if you could simply attach a trailer to your hitch on your regular vehicle that turns it into a mean survival machine? Well, you can!

Another great reason to consider a bug out trailer is the simple fact that your gear is much better protected from wear and tear from the elements! Keeping your gear in a hot car while it is parked in the hot sun while you are out and about or while you are at work all day can be really hard on batteries, food, gear and so much more. Tools are nearly as well protected from rust caused by humidity. Keeping your designated bug out trailer in your garage or in another protected area can keep your gear out of the hot sun, wind, rain, snow and more prolonging the life of your gear so that it is ready when you need it!

You can put virtually whatever you could possibly want or need in terms of gear and supplies in or on your bug out trailer in ways that you could not put on your vehicle in a practical way. How about an integrated fully decked out camp kitchen? No problem. Solar panels and a battery bank? You got it! A roof top tent? You bet! (Sure you can put a roof top tent on your vehicle, but the elements from driving around with it on your main vehicle every day can really wear and tear on your roof top tent). How about extra cans of fuel for your vehicle? Propane tanks and a heater? Not a problem! And if you store all of these items in or on your bug out vehicle protected in your garage or out building, your gear and tools stay safe from the elements and you don't have to store or carry all of this stuff around in your everyday vehicle! How nice is that?

There are a lot of options in terms of procuring your ideal bug out trailer. Bug out trailers can be purchased already made ("Adventure Trailers") or they can be homemade if you are handy. You can even repurpose old truck beds if you are so inclined. Your bug out trailer could even be a "teardrop trailer" with a camper like sleeping area inside and you can still add a rooftop tent to it!

The possibilities for bug out trailers are virtually endless and are only limited to your imagination!

So what do you think about a bug out trailer? What would your ideal bug out trailer be? Let us know with your comments!

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Bug Out Trailers on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ultimate Bug Out Bag Page!

The ultimate bug out bag inspiration page!
The ultimate bug out bag ideas, inspiration, packs,
gear, tips, tricks and everything else bug out bag
related page!!
Bug out bags are central to every disaster preparedness plan. Whether you are interested in creating your very first bug out bag or you are a bug out bag veteran who wants to make sure that your kits are as good as they can possibly be, this is the page for incredible bug out bag inspiration! Looking for the ideal pack to transform into your ideal bug out bag? Want tips on what kind of gear to load your bug out bag up with? Want to learn ways to lighten your load without sacrificing needs? Need bug out bag concepts designed for ladies, children or even dogs? You have come to the right place!

It doesn't matter if you are creating a bug out bag, get home bag, INCH (I'm Never Coming Home) bag or vehicle survival kit... we have assembled literally hundreds of bug out bag ideas, tutorials, pictorial guides, lists, gear recommendations, tips, tricks and more!

Check out our Ultimate Bug Out Bag Pinterest board here!:

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Paracord Project Inspiration!

You can make all kinds of great looking and
useful items with 550 paracord! The cow
hitch knot was used to make this fantastic
looking paracord water bottle net holder!
As you probably already know, paracord is awesome stuff. It is an amazing tool and resource to have in a survival situation. Paracord is so versatile for fabricating things like shelters, traps, rigging tarps, fishing, using to fabricate a bow drill, suspend a bottle over a fire... the list of survival uses for paracord is endless!

Because of this wonderful versatility, many survival enthusiasts have turned ways to ensure that paracord is in their kits and with them at all times! Sure you can throw a hank of paracord in a pack pocket, but what if you find yourself in a crisis situation where your bug out bag or EDC happens to not be with you? This is what has inspired so many folks come up with all kinds of creative ways to make certain that paracord is with them at all times!

One great way to make sure that you have 550 paracord on you at all times is to swap out your boot or shoe strings with paracord! Pretty clever, huh? While this is a terrific idea, there are so many more clever things you can do with paracord!

Other examples of popular paracord projects include the common "survival bracelet", paracord lanyards and paracord keychain fobs... but many paracord enthusiasts go well beyond these in terms of creativity and functionality.

It's increasingly more common to see people replace their classic leather belt with a belt made from paracord! Paracord dog collars, leashes and harnesses are also popular. Paracord wraps on knife, axe, hatchet and other tool handles are a terrific idea as well! How about paracord wraps on luggage handles, pack handles and other straps? Or paracord guitar straps and rifle lanyards? We have seen all kinds of really cool and practical applications for paracord like watch bands, slings for water bottles, compression straps with handles for blankets/bedding, pouches, drink koozies, zipper pulls (some oversized to make them easier to grab with mittens or gloves on), laptop bag straps... the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination!

OK... now for some really creative and decorative uses for paracord. Many folks have done some really nice paracord bottle nets to protect their bottles and hang them from their pack with a carabiner! You can use a cobra knot to paracord wrap your phone charging cable! Sportsmen and women can easily make their own paracord fishing lure, fly or duck call lanyard! There are even some great mess kit sets that come with a nesting stove, cook pot, and bottle all contained in a paracord holder and clip on shoulder strap! You can even make beautiful paracord "jewelry" out of paracord!

Classic "double cobra" knot survival
bracelet in ACU camo colors. 
Paracord projects are typically done with a number of popular knots. These knots are used for tying and wrapping paracord around various items for all kinds of projects. The cobra knot and the king cobra (or double cobra) is by far the most popular and most common knot for paracord project use. It is an easy knot to learn and extremely versatile.

Like the cobra knot, many of these popular paracord knots are very easy to learn and utilize, but a few are a bit more challenging... but that doesn't stop paracord enthusiasts from using them! While a few of these knots are a bit more challenging, these more challenging knots produce some really amazing results. They are really cool looking and are well worth the extra effort. The "turks head" knot is a terrific example of one such knot. It is a beautiful decorative knot that is very popular, despite being somewhat more difficult to tie.

This Nalgene bottle was
wrapped with a three color
turks head wrap. The center
strand was made using
reflective paracord making
it extravisible in the dark!
There are a host of other knots that can help you make some really amazing looking paracord projects. To learn more about all kinds of knots (both useful and decorative), check out our Knots Pinterest board for all kinds of photos, tutorials and more!:

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Knots For Survival on Pinterest.

A paracord "survival grenade" is a 
micro survival kit wrapped in 
paracord with a carabiner attached 
to clip to a kit or keychain.
One of our favorite paracord innovations over the last few years is the paracord "survival grenade"! No, they are not explosive weapons. "Grenade" is simply a nickname that has become popularized for these little micro survival kits that are completely wrapped in paracord for protection. Often these little "survival grenades" consist of a handful of micro survival tools (like a tiny knife, micro firesteel and striker, fish hooks, some kind of tinder, etc.) and wrapped in aluminum foil or stuffed in an Altoids tin, then the paracord is wrapped around the outside of the kit container and contents to keep the kit wrapped and protected by the tough paracord. Because the paracord is wrapped around the outside of the kit, it takes no room at all on the inside of the kit yet you still have your paracord as pard of the kit! Usually a little carabiner is clipped on to a loop in the paracord so that the entire tiny kit can quickly be clipped to a pack or even a keychain.

Want to check out some cool Paracord Survival Grenades? Check them out on our Survival Grenade Pinterest board here!:

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In addition to paracord for your paracord projects, you might want to invest in some useful paracord project hardware items to complete your project. Most of these are very inexpensive. Items like buckles, shackles, clips, cord ends, cord stops/locks, d-rings and more! The hardware you will need will depend on what you are making with your paracord project. You can find lots of the most popular paracord project hardware here!:

Paracord Project Hardware from Equip2Survive

There are also a number of tools that you could be interested in that can really help you with your paracord projects too. Basic hemostats are really helpful when you need to pull a loose paracord end through a tight spot. You can get a pair of basic hemostats for just a couple of bucks! Paracord needles are another really helpful tool. Paracord needles are a unique hollow needle that is threaded on the inside to hold your paracord as you push it through tight places. Paracord needles are a must for turks head knots. You can even get (or make) special jigs to help you get your survival bracelets exactly the right length!

Paracord Project Tools from Equip2Survive

If you are interested in doing some paracord projects of your own, then check out our Paracord Pinterest board for tons of inspiration, project and knot tutorials, clever ways to use paracord, and so much more!

Check out our Paracord Pinterest board here!:

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Paracord on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Glow In The Dark Survival Gear Mods Could Save Your Life!

Simply adding glow in the dark gear mods to your 
survival gear and tools helps you keep track of them
much after dark!
Everyone knows that a large part of being prepared for a survival situation means having the right tools on hand. But what if you made the necessary preparations and gathered all those necessary tools, but then you lose your knife, firesteel, or other critical survival tool in the dark? Or what if you simply need to find something quickly and easily in the dark after you have gone to bed?

Losing gear is so easy to do and most of us have done it. You can easily get your firesteel out, start your tinder or fire steel, cavalierly set your firesteel down somewhere while you attend to nurturing your fire... then once your fire has taken off realize you have no idea where you laid your firesteel!! So frustrating!! The same can happen with your knife, saw, machete, or any other piece of gear! Especially in the dark!

So what’s the answer? Well one really prudent precaution to take is to simply add a modification of some kind to your precious gear that makes it (or at least a small part of it) glow in the dark so it is much easier to find!

There are a number of ways for you do to this. You can actually buy gear that has GITD components already built into it like a knife with GITD scales or a firesteel with GITD grip. But many of these items, while they may glow in the dark, tend not to be of very good quality on other important fronts. 

You could put a strip of glow in the dark Duck Tape or a glow in the dark sticker of some kind on your gear, but those could potentially get wet and eventually come off.

Glow in the dark paracord is another possibility. You could put lanyards made of glow in the dark paracord on your knives and firesteels! You could put a turkshead knot wrap on your pack or gear handles. This is a nice solution in many ways, but much of the GITD “paracord” out there is not really 550 paracord at all, so you must be careful about treating it as such.

Glow in the dark paracord doing what it does
best... glowing in the dark!
While we are talking about paracord, another clever option is glow in the dark cord ends or even beads that you can put right on your paracord. These make great GITD zipper pulls for jackets and packs!

Another great solution is to get ahold of some high quality glow in the dark powder or paint. The nice thing about this stuff is if you get quality powder or paint, the glow “charge” can literally last HOURS!! It’s really impressive stuff!

You can then mix your GITD powder into a epoxy mixture or Sugru and use it as filler in divots and various other pockets or depressions in your gear. You can even add a dollop of the glowing epoxy mixture into a hole you drill into your kydex sheath or knife scales for this purpose, making a glow in the dark dot integrated right into your gear!

One more option that is popular with flashlight enthusiasts is glow in the dark rubber O-rings that you can put on your flashlights or even fire pistons. Signaling is yet another terrific use for GITD materials and mods. You could leave glow in the dark trail markers with strands of glow in the dark paracord or glow in the dark Duck Tape to assist search and rescue with locating you after dark! 

Check out this before and after shot of this paracord survival
grenade! Just one example of how glow in the dark survival 
gear items are so much easier to find in the dark!
Glow in the dark mods have a lot of practical survival uses and can help you keep your gear from getting lost. What other glow in the dark mods can you think of for survival gear? Have you added any GITD mods to your own gear already? Tell us about them with your comments below!

Wanna see some more really cool glow in the dark survival gear mods? Check out our Glow In The Dark Survival board on Pinterest!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why MEN Should Be Using Pinterest!

Why EVERY Man Should Be Using Pinterest!
Ever wonder why there isn’t a Pinterest for men? 

Well actually, there is. It’s called... Pinterest. Most men just don’t realize that Pinterest is for them too! And honestly… if you are a man and you are not using Pinterest, you are really missing out. There is so much cool “man stuff” on Pinterest and we are going to prove it to you!

While Pinterest continues to thrive as one of the top social media powerhouses (70 million users in 2014), it does have a serious PR problem. Pinterest seems to be neglecting an real opportunity to virtually double it’s users by simply attracting men. Currently, Pinterest use is overwhelmingly dominated by women (80%)! But why? There is so much terrific “man stuff” on Pinterest too!

So why not men? 
So why is Pinterest mostly hugely successful with women? We honestly have no idea. For some reason the whole visual/image approach to collecting ideas and inspiration in an easy to use web service just really resonated with women very early on. But one thing we do know is... men are really missing out by choosing to pass on Pinterest.

Very few men have any clue how crazy rich Pinterest is with “man stuff”. Sure, Pinterest can save you money, help you organize your life, help you learn how to do all kinds of DIY projects, and SO much more... but Pinterest offers so MUCH more than that.

What kind of “man stuff” you ask? Well… what kind are you into? Cars? Fishing? Grilling? Tattoos? Fitness? Camping? Woodworking? Motorcycles? Cigars? Poker? Sports? Guns? It’s all on Pinterest! And lots of it!

What is the big deal about Pinterest?? 
We all know by now what a great resource the internet is in all of our lives. We turn to sources like Google, YouTube and Facebook for all sorts of important information. What makes Pinterest so uniquely powerful is two fold: Pinterest is highly visual (which is incredibly powerful in helping us orient ourselves in this fast-paced world), and it is like a supercharged “bookmarking” system that makes it really easy for you to come back to and organize various articles, sites, photos, videos and more all in one place! Pinterest is frequently preferred by its users over even Google for finding all kinds of life solutions!

How Pinterest literally saved me $5000! 
Our air conditioner went out and the repair man told me exactly what was wrong with it: Our furnace blower motor went out. We’d just spent $1000 two months ago to get the furnace fixed and now it was going to cost us an additional $1000 to get this issue fixed. But the repair man told me that several other problems with our HVAC system were eminent and that we should get a whole new system for $5000. I was not pleased at this news or at the prospect of shelling out another $1000 to $5000… And I suspected that I was getting snowed.

So… I turned to Pinterest. I was amazed what I found. All kinds of pins that pointed me toward various web resources and DIY videos on YouTube that gave me all the information I needed to determine what parts I needed to replace my furnace blower motor and capacitor… for under $300!! I ordered the parts, carefully followed the instructions on the resources that I found via Pinterest and we were back up and running again after about a half day’s work!

Browser bookmarks suck. Pinterest doesn’t. 
Look, we all find all kinds of great info, pages, images, videos and more on the web that we want to come back to, right? Bookmarks and favorites in your browser just don’t cut it anymore. How about a visual, organized, convenient and information-rich resource to replace those old browser bookmarks and favorites? Yeah? Congratulations! You just became a huge fan of Pinterest.

Pinterest is WHAT YOU MAKE IT!!! 
Not interested in Crock Pot recipes, makeup tips and wedding dresses? No problem. Don’t repin anything about those topics. Don’t follow any pinners or boards that do. Don’t create any boards about those topics. Interested in vikings, motorcycles, tattoos, grilling, fly fishing, the Walking Dead… or whatever else you can think of? Make boards about those things and pin pins about those topics! It’s fun, relaxing, inspiring and such a great way to learn new things and collect all of your ideas and inspiration in one organized easy to use resource that you can access from all of your devices!!

Find something cool on the web and want to come back to it? Add it to one of your Pinterest boards right from your browser (typically with an easy to install browser add-on or plugin)!

And what’s cool is… Pinterest actually “learns” what you like too. The more you use Pinterest the “smarter” it gets. Once you start following a few boards and pinners that pin the kind of stuff that you are into, your Pinterest “home page” automatically populates more related pins about stuff you like!

Why would an article about Pinterest be on a blog about survival, preparedness and bushcraft?
Yes, admittedly this is a bit of a "topic detour" for us, but the answer is quite simple. Pinterest is an absolute WEALTH of information on these topics, and we are passionate about using it. It is such an amazing resource for us and we simply had to share this with other men out there. For example... Check out our Equip2Survive Pinterest profile with nearly 90,000 pins about all kinds of survival, preparedness and bushcraft ideas!

Not into survival or the outdoors? No problem. Just make your Pinterest profile and boards about what YOU are interested in. We just wanted to show you an example of one hell of a Pinterest profile (if we do say so ourselves) so you could see how Pinterest does not have to be about Twilight or Alanis Morissette.

Give Pinterest a try, men! What do you have to lose?

Check out the Equip2Survive Pinterest Profile here!:

Visit EQUIP2SURVIVE's profile on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bug Out Vehicle SUPER Photo Gallery!!

If you love photos of seriously awesome bug 
out vehicles, you have cometo the right place! 
You have GOT to check out this amazing 
Pinterestboard with hundreds of killer photos 
of incredible bug out vehicle ideas!
Do you love looking at photos of BOVs (bug out vehicles) and adventure vehicles? Do you enjoy checking out pics of various bug out vehicle ideas and dreaming about your own ideal bug out vehicle? Need some inspiration for improving or upgrading your bug out vehicle to make it as crisis ready as it possibly can be? Well we have the resource for you! Check out our amazing Bug Out Vehicle Pinterest board where you can peruse HUNDREDS of photos of awesome bug out vehicles of all types! Whether you love Jeeps, Land Rover Defenders, Unimogs, Pinzgauers, Hummers, Toyota FJ Cruisers, we've got them all! Check out this amazing photo gallery below!

Follow EQUIP2SURVIVE's board Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs) on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Cooking (Especially Cooking Outdoors) Can Teach You Survival Skills!

How cooking can teach you critical survival skills well beyond just survival cooking!There are two topics that I am extremely passionate about: survival and cooking. These two topics may seem completely unrelated at first, but are they? As you are about to see, not nearly as much as you might think. For me personally, knowing how to cook really well has really informed my survival skills across the board, far beyond just knowing how to cook great food in a survival situation. 

One particular variable that is central to both of these topics is... heat. When you cook food, typically you are applying heat to your ingredients to fuse all of those individual ingredients into a singular delicious dish. In a survival situation, your core body temperature is one of the most crucial elements to staying alive. One of the key challenges in a survival situation is your ability to masterfully guide heat/cold toward or away from your body as needed to maintain your vital core body temperature. You might be surprised to discover that learning to cook (which by itself is a terrific survival skill) can actually help you develop an array of valuable survival skills... and learning how to maintain core body temperature in a survival situation can similarly help you learn to be a better cook! Keep reading if you would like to learn more about how!

To better set up our premise, let's take a closer look at some basics regarding how heat works. You are probably at least generally familiar with these concepts, but bear with us for a moment as we lay a solid foundation for our case for cooking as a great way to learn survival skills.

A great illustration of how conduction, 
radiation and convection work. 
How Heat "Works"

As most of us know from basic physics, heat plays by a few "ground rules" that we can always count on. For example, heat has three modes by which it uses to transfer its energy:
1) Conduction (thermal transfer via direct contact), 2) Radiation (thermal transfer via motion of charged particles) and 3) Convection (thermal transfer via heat rising, cold sinking and temperatures circulating). These three modes are going to be key components in our equation.

Another key variable in our understanding of heat is that... 4) heat is part of the electromagnetic spectrum just like visible light is. This is also key in understanding how to manipulate this energy to accomplish our goals. This is just a brief list of the basics of thermal energy, but it's enough to give us a lot of insight for the time being.

So let's review our very basic list of takeaways regarding heat:

Heat is transferred via three modes:

1) Conduction (thermal transfer via direct contact)
2) Radiation (thermal transfer via motion of charged particles)
3) Convection (thermal transfer via heat rising, cold sinking and temperatures circulating)


4) Heat (like visible light) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum

Pictured above is a typical Dutch oven
setup. Notice how there are many
more coals on the lid than there are
beneath the oven to produce an even 
heat. This is because of convection 
(heat rising).
Now let's take these rules and apply them to our two topics (survival and cooking) and see if we can find any significant crossover. In cooking, knowing that heat generally rises (convection) helps us understand that our food item will tend to cook more quickly with a heat source underneath it than it will with a heat source above it. That fact is illustrated by the simple fact that, when cooking with a Dutch oven for example, it takes roughly a third more charcoal briquettes on top of the Dutch oven as it does underneath the Dutch oven for even cooking. This is just one example of this dynamic (heat rising) via convection.

Conduction, radiation and convection all at work while  cooking.
Conduction, radiation and convection all at work while
cooking. See the Pinterest pin source for this image here!
Conduction (direct contact) is the most efficient of these modes and has the quickest impact on your cooking. Pan searing is a terrific example of cooking with direct heat. Your food item is placed in a searing hot skillet and starts to brown and crisp on it's surface almost instantly. The efficiency of conduction is further illustrated by the famous "grill marks" on your steak. Those brown grill marks are created when your steak makes direct contact with the surface of your metal grill grates. Despite the fact that those grill grates are heated up by the radiation of from your hot coals or gas flames and the rising convection from those gas flames or hot coals, where the grill grates touch your steak is where the extra charring occurs because the heat from the grates is hotter (and stays hotter) than the radiant heat or convection from your flames or coals. This demonstrates the efficiency of conduction over both radiation and convection.

Radiation is next on the list. While not quite as "efficient" as conduction in terms of heat transfer, radiation is a very effective means of heat transfer. Any time you cook something in your oven you are primarily using heat radiation to cook your food. While radiation is less efficient than conduction, it is a much more gentle way to cook your foods. This is preferred when you are cooking foods that have more mass. While cooking with radiant heat is slower, it allows foods with more mass or density to get to temperature more evenly. A medium-rare steak (seared on the outside but just warm on the inside) tends to do better with a conduction method of cooking (or high temperature radiant heat), but cakes, breads, casseroles etc. tend to require a gentler cooking method that promotes even cooking. Radiant heat is better for this.  And whenever you are grilling and remove a burger or brat from the grill grate surface and move it to the upper shelf on your grill... you just switched from conduction cooking to radiation (and convection) cooking. Why do you do that? Because you know your meats are charred enough on the outside and you just want to keep them warm now, right?

Last but not least is convection cooking. Convection in cooking is primarily factoring into your cooking methods the fact that heat rises. Convection ovens take convection bit further by adding circulation of the hot air in your oven and circulating that hot air around your food to create a more even cooking temperature and faster cooking times. Convection in these ovens basically compliments the radiation that your oven's heat coils have produced by circulating the heat around your food with a fan. Adding additional convection to an oven does make it more efficient, but convection is still not nearly as effective as a cooking method without an existing source of heat producing radiation.

You can see that heat (infrared light) is just to the right of visible light on the electromagnetic scale.
You can see that heat (infrared light) is just to the right
of visible light on the electromagnetic scale. 
Our last variable in this equation is the fact that heat, like light, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact... one could argue that heat actually IS light (heat is actually infrared light which is light that is just outside of the visible light spectrum). Understanding this dynamic and leveraging it can really help you amp up your cooking abilities.

The very best example that we can give you for this is the use of aluminum foil in your cooking. Why is aluminum foil such an effective cooking aid? Because it can actually REFLECT heat (or trap heat, depending on how it is used) much like a mirror can reflect light! So why does this matter? Whether you are baking a pizza, a casserole, a roast, meatloaf or prime rib, aluminum foil can allow you to control and isolate your heat almost like masking tape or a stencil can help you put paint where you want it and keep it away from where you don't!

For example, when cooking a casserole, frequently you cover the top of your casserole with foil until your casserole boils around the edges (indicating that it is hot all the way through) Then you remove the foil to allow the radiant heat from your top heating element (or broiler) to brown the top of your casserole perfectly! This is an example of cooking in two phases (phase one is cooking from the bottom to bring your casserole to an even heat and then phase two is removing the protection of the aluminum foil to allow you finish the casserole by browning the top). More on this multi-phase cooking process is going to featured in another upcoming article.

Now how does all of this cooking information help you in a survival situation exactly? 

So glad that you asked. The first and most obvious answer is that fully grasping these laws of thermal dynamics regarding heat and how to leverage them for better cooking in your home is that you can actually apply these same principles when cooking food during a crisis when you don't have a microwave, oven or stovetop. Understanding the principles behind how your conventional home oven and stove top work... these same principles apply when using a grill, backpacking stove, fireplace solar oven or campfire!

But let's take these principles several steps further! Understanding the principles behind how to harness heat to cook food can also be invaluable when it comes to how to keep yourself and your family warm!! That's right... these same principles are still hard at work even when it's cold outside and you need to safeguard your core body temperature.

This illustration of an ideal snow shelter shows how the 
entrance of the shelter keeps heat in the shelter because
it is lower than the living area because heat rises and cold air
Let's start with the fact that heat rises (convection). In a survival situation you can leverage this dynamic in many ways. One example of this would be creating a "bed" in your shelter that lifts you up and above the coldest air that falls to the floor of your shelter. A terrific example of this is when making a survival snow shelter. It is recommended that in your snow shelter you create a sort of "shelf" for you to bed on, and the area that is lower than your bed is where the cold air falls. This is referred to as a "cold air sink" and allows the coldest air to fall down below the level of your body keeping you warmer. There are many other examples of leveraging this principle in survival.

Next let's look again at our three modes of heat energy transfer... again, this time from a survival perspective. Conduction is once again a very powerful and effective mode of heat energy transfer. We have several examples of conduction as a variable that must be considered when trying to stay warm. Our first example is simply getting wet. Most of us know that moisture is enemy #1 when it comes to hypothermia. But why? Well, because when water comes in direct contact with your skin, it sucks the heat right out of your body (the thermal energy in your warm body and the cold water are trying to find that thermal equilibrium attempting to make the water warmer and your body colder). That's conduction at work, my friends. Your skin is making direct contact with that moisture and the moisture is sucking the heat right out of you bringing down your core temperature. This is why it is critical to stay dry in a survival situation or if you get wet to immediately find a way to get dry again.

Sleeping in a hammock allows you to sleep much cooler than sleeping in a tent because of convection.
Sleeping in a hammock allows you to sleep
much cooler than sleeping in a tent thanks 
Another example of conduction in a survival situation is sleeping directly on the ground. Even if you are sleeping in a sleeping bag but doing so right on the cold damp ground, the ground can and will suck the heat right out of you if you do not have a protective insulating or reflective barrier like a foam or reflective sleeping pad or other barrier.

Now the two examples that I have given you tend to make conduction sound like the enemy in a survival situation. Such is not always the case. You see, in a situation where your core body temperature has become elevated (hyperthermia), you can quickly cool down your core temperature by taking a dunk in a cool stream! You can also drink warm liquids like hot beverages or warm a bottle of water or even rocks to put in your sleeping bag to help raise your core body temperature via conduction! This is why it is helpful to understand how heat works and how to harness it.

Radiation is once again less efficient than conduction, but the principles of radiation apply in a survival situation in a fairly effective and straightforward manner as well. Any time you have warmed yourself next to a roaring campfire you have benefitted from radiating heat. Any time you have used an electric or fuel powered compact heater of any kind you have leveraged radiant heat. Using a mylar space blanket in the back of your shelter to reflect (once again, just like visible light) campfire light/heat down and onto your bed is utilizing radiant heat to keep warm! You can use this same principle to protect yourself from too much radiant heat as well! Placing a reflective mylar space blanket over your shelter to reflect sunlight away from it can actually help keep you cool! Utilizing a reflective windshield panel as a sleeping pad can reflect the cold from the ground away from your body and your body heat back toward you!

A DIY ceramic pot room heater uses just the convection of 
heat from a small tea light candle to warm a room. 
While convection is utilized a bit less effectively in cooking than conduction and radiation, convection is actually a very significant variable in survival. The best example of this would be... wind (which is actually at least partially caused by thermal transfer and thermal equilibrium itself). You can have a terrific shelter and a terrific fire but if neither is protected from the cold wind it won't matter much. That wind will suck the heat right out of you! Everything from the kinds of clothing that you are wearing to the location of your shelter to which side of your shelter you locate your entrance can be used to combat heat loss via convection.

On the flip side, convection can also be utilized to keep you cool in hot conditions. Examples of this would include utilizing a fan to help cool you (and assist with sweat evaporation... the body's natural air conditioning) to hanging up off the ground in a hammock instead of on the ground in a tent to help keep you cooler!

One last variable to consider here: Again... heat, like visible light, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This means that heat, much like light, can actually be reflected. We explained this in a bit more detail above, but now just replace that reflective aluminum foil that you used while cooking with a reflective survival blanket or even a black surface (black absorbs light) and... voila! To learn more about the significance of heat being part of the electromagnetic spectrum, visit our Campfire Electricity page to learn more about generating electricity after dark using a campfire and a solar panel! 

How a sleeping bag uses insulation to maintain your core body temperature
How a sleeping bag uses insulation to maintain your core
body temperature. See the Pinterest pin source for this
image here!
Now there's one dynamic in a survival equation that is a little bit different than what we see in cooking: unlike cooking, in a survival situation YOU are your primary source of heat. Your body creates it's own heat by burning calories and circulating your blood. You can absolutely supplement your body's innate internal heat source with external heat sources like a heater or fire to help you keep warm, but you can also just retain your body's default core temperature (combat hypothermia) by taking prudent steps just to safeguard your body's natural core temperature from environmental variables that threat it. You can do this in a number of ways like combating convection with wind proof clothing or shelter or utilizing reflective materials like a mylar space blanket or reflective fabric (just like letting that delicious prime rib rest on the stove top wrapped in aluminum foil so those delicious juices relax and stay in your meat where you want them)... or you can tap into yet another cool tool that we haven't mentioned yet known as INSULATION.

Insulation is awesome. It's so simple yet oh so effective. Insulation is simply the reduction of thermal transfer and is typically achieved using a barrier of some sort. This barrier can be comprised of a number of various materials that are not conducive to heat transfer or... simply just trapped air! Gases like air are very poor conductors (unlike solids and liquids) therefore are the opposite of conductors which means they are insulators!

Wonderbag cookers are amazing little "slow cookers" that use extremely effective insulation to cook your food slowly with no electricity!
Wonderbag cookers are amazing little "slow cookers" that 
use extremely effective insulation to cook your food slowly
Coolers are great examples of insulators that keep your cold drinks cold even on a hot day. Ever seen one of those really cool non-electric Wonderbag cookers? These are another great example of insulation used to cook like a Crock Pot without electricity simply by trapping the existing heat inside your cookware.

A thermos or double-walled bottle (with the trapped air between the two walls) is another terrific example of trapped air style insulation. So are double-paned windows in your home. Your down comforter, coat or sleeping bag are also designed to trap tiny pockets of air all around your body with the loft of the fluffy down to keep your body warm. Furs work the same way!

Insulation can keep a body warm or cool depending upon the circumstances and how you use them. If you leverage a good understanding of the principles behind insulation, it's amazing the almost limitless potential this knowledge can bring to you in a survival situation!

Can you think of any more examples of these principles of thermal dynamics and how they apply to cooking and/or survival? What are some tips or tricks that you plan to leverage in a survival situation? Let us know with your comments below!

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