Project Prepper

Product Review: Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food

As part of my “Project Prepper” series of posts, I recently mentioned that I picked up a couple of Mountain House Classic Buckets of freeze-dried food at some terrific prices.

I bought the Mountain House brand despite never tasting it. That being said, I did do a significant amount of research beforehand, and most reviews of that label were very positive.

Still, probably not the best way to go about selecting emergency food. After all, what if it tastes like crap? Kind of demoralizing if WTSHTF I’m stuck eating something I’d rather not.

I’ve decided to conduct some “product reviews” of freeze-dried food on this blog in the coming weeks. While taste is subjective, I’d like to see if I did okay in acquiring those Mountain House buckets, or if other “major-brand” foods of this type are more “tastier.”

First up is Daily Bread (offered by Food Insurance). I blogged on March 21, 2013 (Project Prepper, Part 11):

Now, some time ago, I was introduced to freeze-dried foods by the folks over at the National Geographic Channel as part of a “thank you” package for blogging about Doomsday Preppers. I received a sample of beef stroganoff from a well-known company that prepares and sells such food. Busting it out for lunch one day, I found it to be easy to make (open package, add boiling water, seal, and wait), and rather surprisingly, it didn’t taste all that bad. A little bland, but some pepper cured that.

More recently, I had the opportunity to try some different freeze-dried food samples from a company called Daily Bread, which according to their website is “nationally recognized as the leading brand in the emergency food supply industry.” I understand their products are recommended by Glenn Beck of TheBlaze TV and Sean Hannity of FOX News. I received samples of their beef stroganoff and lasagna with meat sauce and had them for lunch on two different days. Once again I found them easy to make. However, I experienced first-hand why Daily Bread received the recommendations it did from these two media personalities. Their beef stroganoff was considerably more tastier than the other brand (no pepper needed this time). And the lasagna with meat sauce was delicious.

Now, I noticed some of the noodles in each beef stroganoff sample were a little “crunchy” upon eating. I suspected that might have been because I poured the contents of each package into a bowl (which was permissible per the directions for each) upon completing their preparation rather than letting the food sit in their pouches and eating it from there. When I had the lasagna with meat sauce for lunch, I just ate it right from the pouch. And you know what? Perfectly “cooked” with no crunchy food.

Anyway, that’s been my experiment with freeze-dried foods to date. And I’m thinking they’ll probably play a major role in my emergency food supplies based on my experience so far.

Now, sometime after I wrote that, I decided to obtain another sample of Daily Bread freeze-dried food through Food Insurance. A 2.54 oz (72g) pouch containing “Freeze Dried Chicken Teriyaki with Rice” was sent to me. It was billed as “A Sweet Combination of Oriental Flavors.” We shall see…

Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food Pouch

Preparing the meal was easy. I tore open the pouch, removed the oxygen absorber, added 1 cup of boiling water to the pouch, stirred the contents, pinched the pouch shut, let it sit for the maximum recommended time (9 minutes) to ensure it was perfectly “cooked,” and then busted it open. Here’s the final product:

Daily Bread Freeze-Dried Food Cooked

After bringing the freeze-dried entrée back to life, I grabbed a glass of water (will just be drinking water during this series of reviews to ensure my taste buds aren’t compromised) and carried the pouch plus water over to my front room so I could chow down on what was going to be my lunch.

By the way, the pouch had some heft to it (stirring in the boiling water makes one 10 ounce serving).

Verdict

The Daily Bread chicken teriyaki with rice was thoroughly-“cooked”- nothing crunchy- and was excellent tasting- not too sweet, and definitely not bland.

I was also pretty full after eating that single serving, with no immediate desire for a side dish or dessert.

On a side note, I actually found myself trying to scrape up any last morsel of the meal with my spoon while watching TV.

“Give us this day our Daily Bread.” That’s for sure.

Daily Bread freeze-dried food is sold through Food Insurance (one of this blog’s affiliate marketing partners- reviewed here), and right now the Kaysville, Utah-based company is offering a completely FREE entrée sample to the public- meaning no shipping and handling charges, and no obligation to buy. This free food sample pack is being made available for a very limited time only.

Interested in obtaining a sample or checking out the Daily Bread offerings? Click on the banner ad below and you will be taken to the Food Insurance website. Please note that I receive a commission from any purchases you make on the site.


Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 32: Security First

Back in Project Prepper, Part 9 (dated February 27, 2013), I talked about the 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness efforts for this series of posts would focus on. Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast (the originator of this list of needs) had “Food” at the top. I wrote:

My gut feeling tells me right now I should be focusing on “Security” before other needs. Why’s that? Because this latest push for more gun “control” that’s going on in America right now could end up limiting my access to a number of tools and other accessories that I could use to construct an effective security setup.

The push for more gun “control” in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting was substantial. And certain firearms, ammunition, and accessories fast became scarce. That being said, federal legislation calling for ammunition magazine and gun bans did not become law. Even so, the availability of certain items (.22 LR ammo comes to mind here) is still affected here at the beginning of 2015.

Regrettably, I believe that another mass shooting on the level of Newtown will happen again here in America. After which, there will undoubtedly be another significant push for gun “control,” and shortages of certain guns and ammo will take place once again. Taking into consideration that I also suspect firearm availability/ownership will be seriously curtailed when the nation’s “financial reckoning day” arrives (along with major civil strife), readers might understand why I’ve made “Security” my top “innate survival need.”

Now, gun “control” is a phenomenon that I am all too familiar with. When I wrote Project Prepper, Part 9, I was living at “ground zero” for gun “control” in America at that time- Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Regular readers know that I’ve since moved out of the city and to the suburbs.

However, I still reside in Cook County (for the time being, at least), and as such, am subject to its considerable firearm restrictions.

Despite the setbacks of 2013 and last year, anti-gun sentiment remains strong in the county and in this part of the state. While the relentless push for more gun “control” has been somewhat quiet after the November 2014 election and through the holidays, activity will no doubt pick up again soon. And the next time a major mass shooting takes place in America, I expect legislation banning particular semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines to be introduced in the Illinois General Assembly probably before the smoke has even cleared. Trust me- it’s ready. While such a state-level ban wouldn’t mean a whole lot to me (Cook County already has an “Assault Weapon” Ban and 10-round ammunition magazine restriction in place), who’s not to say the County goes even further in the wake of such a tragedy and attempts to ban the future acquisition/possession of semi-automatic firearms, for example? Maybe there won’t even be a grandfather clause, and all semi-autos would now be illegal?

Yep. “Security” remains numero uno on my list of “innate if survival needs.”

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 31: How Much, How Long For Survival Needs?

The other week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I talked about where the project stood after two years in the works. I blogged:

I decided my preparedness education and activities will focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). This includes:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

I went on to discuss the status of each “need.”

While working the past two years on meeting these “needs,” questions arose about “how much?” and “how long?” For example, concerning water- do I settle for just having 72 hours of an emergency supply on hand (like what Uncle Sam recommends)? Or do I aim higher, taking into consideration potential emergencies I might realistically encounter living here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago?

I knew settling for “just enough” wouldn’t cut it. As I wrote the other week concerning water:

At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

And regarding emergency food:

Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Mountain House Classic Buckets

Mountain House Classic Buckets- breakfast/lunch/dinner for 3.5 days per bucket

Thankfully, after listening to the November 19, 2014, episode of The Survival Podcast, I now have a better idea of “how much?” and “how long?” might be required to tackle those needs. Incorporating Spirko’s suggestions from episode 1468, “The World Won’t End but Your World Could,” with his six “innate survival needs,” we have:

1. Security

2. Water- 30 days for all needs (drinking, cooking, bathing, etcetera)

3. Food- 30 to 60 days without complete boredom (variety of food that we already eat and actually think is tasty)

4. Shelter- Ability to keep home “sound” after suffering non-catastrophic damage

5. Sanitation and Health- Ability to deal with wastes for 30 days. Ability to treat basic injuries and illnesses.

6. Energy- Ability to deal with initial power loss in 5 to 10 minutes. Then, power for 14 days to cover basic needs and comfort.

I’m a lot more comfortable with these targets. I just have to remember that any preps will have to be for two adults (girlfriend and me).

Still, I want to review potential emergencies/disasters we realistically face here in the Chicagoland area/Midwest/United States, and “tweak” the above accordingly.

More next time…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 30: Status

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I did a recap of what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands after a little over two years in the works.

To start, my girlfriend and I moved out of the city of Chicago last year to a house in the northwest suburbs- with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin.

I decided my preparedness education and activities will focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). This includes:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

Concerning security, that’s something that’s been in the works for several years now. Like I wrote on this blog’s “About” page:

Survival And Prosperity is unlike other financial blogs in that SP focuses simultaneously on finance and personal safety, two areas Christopher Hill has spent a lot of time researching these past couple of years and which are intertwined in any serious discussion about surviving and prospering in tumultuous times. Case in point, an individual might pursue a strategy of wealth preservation and growth that would pay off handsomely in a financial crash. Yet, if personal safety was ignored in the process, that same individual might end up a victim of the social turmoil that is sure to accompany the economic collapse. So much for that new-found wealth, right?

(Editor’s note: Blog added for emphasis)

Decent strides have been made in the area of security, although plenty of work remains with all those “innate survival needs.” Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

New Tools: United Cutlery Honshu Tantos

New Tools: United Cutlery Honshu Tantos

Purchased @ BUDK.com For $36.99 (Stainless), $39.99 (Black)

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 29: Recap

It’s been some time since my last “Project Prepper” post. As such, I’m going to do a recap today about what this series of posts is all about for those who don’t already know.

On October 24, 2012, I wrote:

Back in early 2007, I decided to launch a blog that warned anyone who would listen of a coming U.S. financial crash.

By 2010, many Americans had tasted the type of carnage I predicted three years earlier. And it was at this time I decided to take my blogging in a new direction, from simply warning about the coming storm to providing information and possible solutions for coming out on the other side of the maelstrom in decent shape.

For almost two years on Survival And Prosperity, I’ve addressed that information component. As I see it, the writing is on the wall concerning where our economy and larger financial system is headed. As such, it’s time to really focus on potential solutions- those things that might help protect and grow self and wealth in these uncertain times and down the road.

Enter “Project Prepper.”

Once in a while I blog about preppers/survivalists, and as a result, I’m often mistaken for one. The truth is, I’m not a “modern survivalist.” I’m just an independent researcher and blogger currently focusing on economics, finance, investing, and personal safety.

That being said, as a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning and doing, which I’ll call “Project Prepper.”

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you.

By doing this, I’ll also be able to make more progress in providing readers of this blog those possible solutions I talked about earlier in the post.

Will I end up being a “prepper” at the end of it all? Who knows? If anything, I should be able to glean a good deal of useful knowledge from this venture.

Knowledge which I hope to share with you…

More next week as I talk about where “Project Prepper” currently stands after writing the above a little over two years ago.

Been working on personal safety as part of Project Prepper

Been working on personal safety as part of Project Prepper

ANY CHARACTER HERE

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 28: Buying My Parents Some Emergency Preps

A couple of years ago, my parents in the Chicago suburbs lost electricity for an extended period of time after severe weather pummeled the area. I heard from them the morning after the event, and they weren’t doing so well. Without power on an extremely hot and humid night, the two of them fumbled around in the dark and hardly got any sleep. My Mom informed me that it was especially brutal on my Dad, who is an octogenarian with all sorts of health issues- mobility being one of them. During that conversation, my mother told let me that I should be prepared to evacuate him if the electricity didn’t come back on that evening.

Evacuate meaning carrying him down from their fourth floor condo unit in a building without working elevators.

He’s kind of heavy (225 pounds), so I wasn’t really looking forward to this task. Thankfully, the electric company got the power restored to their building before I had to attempt this.

Shortly after this incident, I asked my parents if they wanted me to help them prepare for the next time this happened. Shockingly, they were actually receptive to this.

Alas, I wasn’t able to assist them right away. So the next time I brought the subject up, Mom and Dad weren’t interested.

I guess this is pretty common according to the emergency management pros. An emergency/disaster strikes, and those affected initially talk about being prepared for the next major crisis. But then they never follow through. And the next emergency/disaster happens.

Seeing that the Chicago area just wrapped up its winter of 2013-14 a couple of weeks ago (there was an unmelted snow pile still on the ground two suburbs over in early May!), and severe weather often rolls through during the transition from winter to summer, I recently purchased some basic emergency preparedness gear from Amazon.com for my parents anyway (I didn’t want them to go through another hellish night like the one they experienced a couple of years ago). This included:

Coleman Twin LED Lantern

This lantern would be their main source of emergency lighting in a blackout. From the Coleman website:

Light the night your way with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern. Extra-bright at up to 390 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. The rotating dial offers customizable light settings from low to high. Long runtimes—299 hours on ultra-low and 85 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its weather-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern.

The twin LED lantern costs $36.44 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern

For when either of my parents go to a different room from where that twin LED lantern is situated. From Amazon.com:

The Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern sheds 190 lumens of light, thanks to the super-bright Cree XLamp XR-E LED. The Lantern is Coleman XPS-compatible; it will run for up to 60 hours on High, 25 hours on Low, on 4 D-cell batteries — or use the optional 6V rechargeable battery pack (both sold separately). A diffuser tube provides a perfect beam pattern. The Lantern is weather-resistant to withstand the elements, so it’s great for camping and other outdoor use.

The personal LED lantern costs $19.98 on Amazon.com as I type this.

O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter

I bought two of these (one for each parent). From the Chicago, Illinois-based O2COOL website:

Features Include:

• Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 8 D-Cell batteries (not included).
• Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
• Convenient built-in handle.
• Stable horseshoe base.
• Tilts for directional air flow.
• Compact folding design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
• Perfect for camping and outdoor activities.
• Up to 40 hours of battery life.

Each portable dual power fan costs $26.85 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Yeah, I know these devices require a bunch of “D” batteries (which I already picked up and installed a couple of weeks ago). But my parents won’t use these lanterns or portable fans if they’re too “complicated” to power and operate.

I also picked up two 3.5-gallon WaterBrick water containers (discussed here) for my parents as well from a different vendor. I figured in addition to helping my parents cope with a blackout, I could help them deal with a boil-water advisory like the one that hit nearby Deerfield, Illinois, last summer.

A single WaterBrick costs $20.02 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Finally, my parents had some existing preps at their condo. Besides a variety of flashlights, I bought them a black Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp similar to the one I own and use (discussed here, $19.38 on Amazon.com).

And while not an emergency radio, my Mom picked my Dad up a Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio. It’s handy and I can think of a ton of uses for it- besides getting information in an emergency. Plus, the price is definitely right ($12.97 on Amazon.com).


“Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio”
YouTube Video

I’ll still be sending them over a “real” emergency radio soon.

So a little bit of a detour in my “Project Prepper” series of posts. But definitely worthwhile.

Once I get back to my parents I’ll take some photos of these preps and share them with readers.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Resource Of The Week: Three Standout Episodes From The Survival Podcast

I’m aware of the amount of material that’s come out the last few years about prepping, and wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many people looking to get started in preparedness may feel somewhat overwhelmed, wondering just exactly where to start.

I have an idea where they might want to begin.

Enter The Survival Podcast, which I designated a “Resource Of The Week” way back on March 4, 2011.

I’ve been listening to modern survivalist Jack Spirko’s podcasts whenever I can for a few years now, and three episodes in particular really stand out in my mind as potentially terrific resources for beginning-to-advanced preppers/survivalists:

Episode 1056, “Zero to Prepared- Fast, Simple and Low Cost- Part 1”
(January 17, 2013, 1 hour 8 minutes)

Episode 1057, “Zero to Prepared- Fast, Simple and Low Cost- Part 2”
(January 18, 2013, 1 hour 33 minutes)

Spirko writes:

Today may seem like a basic beginners show but I will bet even the seasoned prepper will gain something and if nothing else will be better able to help others get started. Prepping doesn’t have to be complex or expensive, what it must be is specific to a set of goals, today we talk about simple ways to make that happen.

Episode 1330, “An Evaluation of Prepping for the New and Seasoned Alike”
(April 9, 2014, 1 hour 49 minutes)

Spirko says:

Today I want to discuss more “how to think” about prepping is more important in your planning and implementation than the “what” of prepping. Any good prepping plan should begin with a risk analysis. Any established plan should be tweaked from a starting point of a risk analysis. Note the clear commonality!

Great stuff by Mr. Spirko- as usual. All three episodes could have a lot to offer many preppers and survivalists of different levels- and most anyone listening really. They have for me with those “Project Prepper” series of posts.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 27: Transferring Pre-Owned Gear, Supplies To The New Everyday Carry Bag

In my last “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about the Everyday Carry bag and putting one together for myself after two decades of carrying something along the lines of one.

Today, I’ll be talking more about transferring pre-owned gear and supplies to the new EDC bag.

Last Wednesday I wrote:

Tomorrow, I’m going to start transferring items from my old bag to the Patagonia Half Mass. In a future post I’ll blog about Everyday Carry items going into the bag.

Well, that transfer is done, and the canvas FOX Outdoor Courier bag has been retired from front-line service after a good six years or so for the Patagonia Half Mass that’s been designated to be my new EDC bag.

This morning, I busted out another old bag of mine which I purchased about a decade ago. The yellow Eddie Bauer gym bag- which is usually kept in my vehicle- contains not only items for a roadside emergency, but emergency preparedness gear and supplies which I started accumulating post-9/11. When added to the case of bottled water, old sleeping bag, and extra clothing/boots I would store in my car’s trunk (not at the moment however as I change things up for this series of posts), I’d have the tools, gear, and supplies to tackle a number of emergencies- possibly for a couple of days if required.

The last time I really went through the bag- adding items and replacing expired supplies- was back in 2010.

Until today- when I started pulling a 3-day supply of emergency food and a disposable rain poncho from it for the new EDC bag,

I also added items to the new bag which I’ve recently acquired and set aside until now, such as a foldable water-resistant baseball cap, portable unisex urinal bags, and a LifeStraw personal water filter.

Now, I still need to do some thorough research and put together a comprehensive list of Everyday Carry items I think should go into this bag. But based on what’s been transferred from these two older bags, I think I have a pretty good foundation on which to build on.

EDC Bag Tranfer

Note the Doomsday Preppers toilet paper on top of the old Eddie Bauer bag

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 26: The Everyday Carry (EDC) Bag

In last week’s “Project Prepper” post, I talked about security landscaping at the “new” house. I’ll be working on this project more over the next several days, and share with readers what I’ve come up with shortly.

In the meantime, I want to discuss the Everyday Carry bag, or EDC bag, this week.

What is an Everyday Carry bag?

The TEOTWAWKI Blog has a pretty good explanation of what an EDC bag is (Alexander Wolf usually does for variety of prepper/survivalist-related terms). From a March 31, 2010, post:

Your everyday carry (EDC) bag is one of your most important preparations. It is lightweight bag of gear to backup, support and compliment your on-person EDC. Pockets have limited space–this bag catches the overflow. It should be able to keep you going for a day or two in case you need to pick up and go, if you get stuck at work, or if disaster strikes and you need to bug out for home…

Now, I’ve had something along the lines of an EDC bag in my possession since the mid-nineties. During my winter break from college in 1994, I picked up a nylon messenger bag at the Eddie Bauer Outlet store in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to carry not only my books, but other items I’d use on a daily basis. The “murse” (short for “man purse”)- as my friends and sometimes even complete strangers who thought they were funny would call it- finally bit the dust around 2008 after a lifetime of regular abuse.

Replacing the Eddie Bauer bag was a canvas FOX Outdoor Courier bag I picked up through The Sportsman’s Guide. This has been a good bag. With plenty of compartments and pockets, I’ve not only been able to carry day-to-day items in it, but a few more things I thought might be handy in an emergency as well, such as a tactical light, a wind-up LED headlamp, an emergency blanket, a multi-tool, etcetera.

Funny how often these “emergency items” ended up being used for everyday tasks.

Even funnier is the color of the olive drab bag now- yellow-green- after it got left sitting in a sun-drenched area of my old apartment for a period of time.

While the Fox Outdoor bag has also served me well for six years, I decided in 2013 that I wanted to put together a real Everyday Carry bag- something that “should be able to keep you going for a day or two in case you need to pick up and go, if you get stuck at work, or if disaster strikes and you need to bug out for home.” I did my research and decided the EDC bag I wanted should be:

-Quality. I’m big on reading user reviews before I purchase a product. And if I can inspect the item in-person before buying it- even better.

-Inconspicuous. No military look wanted this time around to draw attention to myself, my bag, and its contents. Although that look is becoming more mainstream around these parts.

-Comfortable to carry. Ever had unpadded straps seriously dig into your shoulders from carrying an overloaded bag for a considerable distance and length of time? I’m sure many of you have, and it kind of sucks, right?

-Water-resistant. Weather in the Chicagoland area is notoriously unpredictable, and I’ve had bags and their contents soaked before.

-Large. Big enough to hold everything (day-to-day and EDC items) I’m planning to keep in it

On that last point, while I really would have preferred to research and obtain EDC items first before acquiring the bag, the opportunity to obtain the bag as a birthday present arose, and I seized it.

Enter the Patagonia Half Mass Bag in Classic Tan.

Patagonia Half Mass Front

Unfortunately, this particular bag has already been discontinued by Ventura, California-based Patagonia (there’s another one out there by the same name these days but it’s different- smaller too). However, I did manage to dig up this description of my new EDC bag out in cyberspace:

For every propelling tailwind, there’s a wicked downpour, a week of flats and a morning full of distracted drivers. We designed the Half Mass messenger bag to get you through the highs and lows of daily commuting. Perfectly sized for a day’s worth of gear, the Half Mass has padding on the back and along the contoured base to protect the contents and provide structure. Inside, a padded computer sleeve accommodates most 15-inch laptops. The main compartment features a drop pocket that secures with a hook-and-loop tab, a mesh pocket, a padded electronics pocket and pen sleeves. The cover flap overlaps the sides of the bag to block rain; its pocket closes with a water-resistant zipper. The external side pocket stows a cell phone, power cords or water bottle. The bag’s no-slip shoulder strap is fully adjustable, and the waist strap stows away. With a topside carrying handle, a reflective panel for visibility at night and a bike-light mount. Made of 8.4-oz 600-denier 100% recycled polyester with a polyurethane coating and a Deluge? DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Details: Main flap opens to largest compartment housing one drop pocket, one mesh pocket, one padded electronics pocket, and three slots for pens; exterior, zippered pocket on flap has moisture-shedding reverse coil zipper Interior padded computer sleeve raised off the ground cradles most 15? laptops and secures with a buckle and strap Front flap has reflective panel and a webbing bike-light mount Side-mounted water-bottle pocket Interior drop pocket secures with hook-and-loop tab for quick access to boarding passes, magazines or newspapers Fully adjustable shoulder strap with floating pad, three-point adjustable stability strap and top-side carrying handle Fabric: Body: 8.4-oz 600-denier 100% recycled polyester. Lining: 3.3-oz 200-denier polyester. Both with a polyurethane coating Weight: 822 g (1 lb 13 oz) Made in Vietnam.

Upon receiving the bag from Salt Lake City, Utah-based Backcountry.com at a cost (to my sister) of only $62.30 shipped, I went ahead and sprayed it with additional water repellant.

The Half Mass measures 19.6 x 13.8 x 3.2 inches with 28 L (1,709 cubic inches) of capacity, and has a lot of space. A great feature is a zipper that runs along the bottom of the bag. When unzipped, the bag expands, providing more storage space.

Some other terrific features of this Patagonia product include reflective material on the cover flap and padded area of the shoulder strap, a waist strap for when I need to haul ass, and last but not least, a neon yellow-green compartment interior.

I just can’t seem to get away from that odd color combination.

Truth be told, I think it will work out great with this messenger bag, as I suspect the light color and contrast formed between the interior and stored items will help me identify and acquire what I need faster than with the previous bag.

Patagonia Half Mass Interior

Tomorrow, I’m going to start transferring items from my old bag to the Patagonia Half Mass. In a future post I’ll blog about Everyday Carry items going into the bag.

Readers: Do any of you have EDC bags? Care to talk about why you picked the one your using? Has the bag and its contents gotten you out of a jam yet?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Wolf, Alexander. “The EDC Bag.” TEOTWAWKI Blog. 31 Mar. 2014. (http://www.teotwawki-blog.com/2010/03/edc-bag.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Emergencies, Gear, Preparedness, Project Prepper No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 25: Security Landscaping

It’s only begun to feel like spring here in the Chicago area. And the weather was so nice today I just had to put down the laptop and venture outside for a little bit.

To work on something else, of course.

Busting out a digital camera, I started to take pictures of the plantings adjacent to the “new” house.

There’s not much of it, truth be told. Just some evergreen bushes that aren’t in the best of shape after the brutal Chicago winter. At the base, the soil is covered with white decorative stone that was probably laid down many years ago judging by how thinned out the depth is.

Now, the head of the lawn service company that I mentioned earlier today recently stopped by and gave my girlfriend and I a quote for removing the evergreens (she’s allergic to them- we’re hoping they can be repurposed) and stone.

Soon, they’ll be absolutely no landscaping around the exterior of the house.

I wasn’t kidding when I call this the “Project Prepper Lab,” being able to work with somewhat of a clean slate concerning many aspects of preparedness.

As such, I started looking into “security landscaping” earlier this afternoon.

Knock on wood, the area where I live is pretty safe. My girlfriend and I did our research, plus one of the town’s police officers who I knew from my days working at a nearby fire department confirmed this before we bought here.

Still, I’ve read how vital home security is when a financial crash or other major crisis rears its ugly head. So I figured if my girlfriend and I are going to be starting from scratch with the exterior landscaping, we might as well look at implementing features that could deter potential burglars and other bad guys from trying to gain entry into the structure.

Here’s a partial photo of the front part of the house to give you an idea of what I’m working with:

Security Landscaping Before

Like I said, those bushes will soon be gone. Clean slate.

Now, I read a number of security landscaping-related articles today, and some suggestions I came across might work extremely well with the property.

Joel M. Lerner, founder and CEO of Capitol View Park, Maryland-based Environmental Design, wrote on The Washington Post website back on August 1, 2009:

Shrubs provide privacy, but they can also give cover to unlawful activity if they get too big, and you might have to remove or cut them to keep areas secure. Foundation plantings should be kept low…

Shrubs should not cover windows, as that can allow an intruder to enter your home unseen…

As the landscaping exists right now, a few bushes are positioned in front of some basement windows. Thankfully, home occupants can see through/around them and bad guys can’t really hide behind them.

When these plantings go, new ones will take their place. And they’ll be kept low and not cover the windows.

Lerner continued:

To minimize the possibility that your barriers will conceal intruders, consider picket fences, lattice with large openings, walls with open patterns or another see-through design, such as chain link.

Chain-link fence isn’t ornamental, but it works quite well to secure an area and is more affordable. It keeps children and pets in and can keep troublemakers out…

Currently, 4-foot chain-link fencing encloses the entire backyard. My girlfriend and I were thinking about possibly replacing this with a 6-foot wood privacy fence down the road. The neighbors I’ve met who live around the property seem like the type who would probably call the police if they spotted some unusual activity taking place around the premises. Therefore, we may want to reconsider that wood privacy fence idea.

Finally, Lerner talked a bit about lighting. From the piece:

Ornamental landscape lighting can be used for aesthetics and as a means of keeping your property visible at night…

It’s dark in our subdivision- no streetlights. To combat this, we’ve purchased and installed outdoor lights on the home that also blaze brightly when motion is detected. They work great. I still want to add more lighting, including the latest generation solar-powered devices in case of a long-term blackout (one lasting a couple of days hit the area just a few years ago).

There’s one more recommendation regarding security landscaping that I found in a different article which appeals to me. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at the University of Vermont, wrote on the University of Vermont Extension, Department of Plant and Soil Science, web page:

Place small gravel next to the house. You won’t be planting there both for security, and as with most homes this area is under the roof overhang so gets little rain. Small gravel will make a noise when walked on, which deters burglars. But don’t use large stones, as these aren’t as noisy, and can provide tools to break windows.

That white decorative stone? While that will still be going, something else might be replacing it than just soil.

I don’t have much experience in security landscaping- let alone landscaping. However, I’m presented with a wonderful opportunity to learn about it hands-on with this new property.

More on this activity later.

In the meantime, any helpful suggestions from readers regarding security landscaping?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Lerner, Joel M. “Maximum Security Landscaper.” The Washington Post. 1 Aug. 2009. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/31/AR2009073101812.html). 9 Apr. 2014.

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Project Prepper, Part 24: Restart And Recap

It’s been a few months since I last published a “Project Prepper” post.

Considering all the material I have that’s just waiting to be blogged about, I don’t envision another layoff like that one happening again soon with this or one of the other series of posts currently running on Survival And Prosperity.

Today, I want to recap the “Project Prepper” series so far.

At two dozen posts, key topics I’ve blogged about since October 2012- when the first post debuted- have included:

• Starting up the “Project Prepper” series due to an increased awareness of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to life and lifestyle where I’ve decided to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning by doing

• Relocating from Chicago to the suburbs with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin (moved from Chicago to the northwest suburbs in late spring 2013)

• Establishing a prioritized list of 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness education will focus on:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

• Starting and building the foundation of an emergency water supply

• Starting an emergency food supply

Now, in these two dozen posts I’ve talked about items I’ve purchased as part of the “Project Prepper” series. For example, the Scepter 5 Gallon Manual Venting Water Jerry Can with CRC (Light Blue/Military Style) to store emergency water.

Going forward, I’m adding a new page to Survival And Prosperity this weekend entitled “Gear And Supplies” where I’ll be listing gear, supplies, and other items talked about in this series of posts and elsewhere on the blog- and links for where to buy them- if I feel they might offer something to readers.

It’s nice to be back in the saddle again. Until next week…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 23: Removing That Military Surplus Smell

“I’m sorry! I thought the vinegar would get rid of the smell!”

I was saying this only a short while ago this evening to my girlfriend, who fled the lower part of our house for the less-smelly refuge offered by the second floor master bedroom.

You see, she just got a whiff of two vintage East German military laundry bags after coming out of the washing machine.

It wreaked pretty bad. Even after I took steps to get rid of the smell.

I’ve been buying military surplus for a number of years now. It’s been my experience that items from former Eastern Bloc countries are incredibly “fragrant.” Czechoslovakia and East Germany readily come to mind here.

In anticipation of those two laundry bags from the former Communist state arriving, I conducted a little research into eliminating, or at least minimizing, that military surplus smell. In the past, I just ran the surplus items through the wash a couple of times. That helped a little. After moving to the new house, I did this plus aired the items out in the detached garage for a couple of months. More improvement.

This time around, I gathered a number of suggestions for combating the stench from the Internet. Ammonia, baking soda, vinegar, Febreze, OdoBan, OxiClean, and even airing out the offending items in the garage for up to a year were some remedies suggested.

I went with adding a cup of distilled vinegar to the wash since I knew we had a gallon of the stuff tucked away somewhere around here.

This afternoon, the bags went into the laundry machine with detergent, color-safe bleach, and a cup of distilled vinegar added when the rinse cycle began, as this was recommended by a few different people out in cyberspace.

Pulling them out of the washing machine, I noticed the military surplus stench was not only still there, but more intense. I headed upstairs from the basement utility room, at which point my girlfriend’s nostrils got a full blast of good old-fashioned Cold War Communism.

As the post intro suggests, she’s not too pleased with me. I feel bad.

After the unprovoked East German assault, I threw the bags back into the washing machine and drowned them with only a cup of distilled vinegar. I added another one at the rinse cycle for good measure. I just got the bags out a short time ago to air dry, and while the smell is still there, it doesn’t seem to be as bad as before. Proponents of the vinegar method claim there might be a vinegar smell (there is- slightly) until the item dries out.

Judging by the intensity of the fragrance, I’m not going to hold my breath concerning vinegar successfully eliminating the odor.

Actually, I probably will.

I’ll update the post later and let you know of the final results. In the meantime, any reader suggestions on dealing with that intense military surplus smell?

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 Clothing, Europe, Gear, How To, Military, Project Prepper 2 Comments

Project Prepper, Part 22: The Nutnfancy Project’s Emergency Water Storage Video

Just when I thought I was done blogging about my emergency water supply as part of the “Project Prepper” series of posts comes a new video from The Nutnfancy Project focusing on the subject. Never heard of TNP? From their YouTube.com channel:

Welcome to the original Gear Adventure Channel, the first of its kind in the world. It has many emulators both in YouTube, online, TV, and in print media. Established in 2008, The Nutnfancy Project is ongoing work that serves adventurers, military members, contractors, law enforcement personnel, outdoorsman, and responsible, good civilians. Hundreds of videos exist already that cover system enhancing gear items like guns, knives, multi-tools, backpacks, clothing, dog gear, flashlights, tactical gear, and much more. Vids are organized into playlists. While the gear is core to TNP, the Project goes much deeper. Many Philosophy and Political videos abound here, encouraging service, kindness, service to community, and defense of freedom. Adventure videos and lifestyle show these values, a love of life, sense of humor, and an investment of one’s time. The world of TNP is your new online home…welcome! [TNP, 10322 S. Redwood Rd, PMB 038, South Jordan, UT, 84095]

I came across “Lt Col Nutnfancy” and his YouTube material some time ago, and was very impressed. On November 27, Nutnfancy uploaded “WROL: And Many Will Die for Want of Water” by Nutnfancy [Water Storage].” Six months in the making, Nutnfancy put together a superb informational and how-to video on acquiring, filtering, and storing emergency water. He spent over 48 minutes talking about the following:

-Recommends 2 gallons per day per person, and a 30-day emergency water supply
-Filtering and water filtration devices
-Instead of adding bleach or chlorine to the water for extended storage, Nutnfancy uses an additive called “stabilized oxygen”
-Doesn’t like repurposed 2-liter plastic bottles
-Likes 3- to 7-gallon water storage containers, 55-gallon drums, and 150-gallon plus “water buffalos”
-Sample emergency water storage program? “For family of four providing 2 gal per day, per person, 745 gal total: One 325 gal buffalo, 5 55 gal barrels, 7 15 gal barrels, 12 3.5 gal waterbricks”

Nutnfancy made me rethink some parts of my own fledgling water storage program. For example, I’ll have to look into that “stabilized oxygen” additive. I’ll be back shortly with another “Project Prepper” post letting you know what I found and what I’m changing, if anything.

In the meantime, enjoy the video…


“WROL: And Many Will Die for Want of Water” by Nutnfancy [Water Storage]”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 21: Progress Report

Late August was when I last published a “Project Prepper” post. Because it’s been a few months, I want to take some time tonight to put together a “progress report” on how far I’ve come with my “preps” to date.

Back on February 27, I blogged that my preparedness activities as part of the “Project Prepper” series of posts would focus on the following 6 “innate survival needs.” In order of the priority I assigned to them:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

And why was it I made “Security” priority number one? I wrote in February:

Still, my gut feeling tells me right now I should be focusing on “Security” before other needs. Why’s that? Because this latest push for more gun “control” that’s going on in America right now could end up limiting my access to a number of tools and other accessories that I could use to construct an effective security setup.

I added later in the post:

Also, I’d feel more comfortable getting a jump on Water and Food (with water being more of a priority as a person can only last around three days without it, as opposed to around three weeks without food).

As for Shelter? Well, I’ve already done some work in this area as a number of readers already know, making plans to move out of the City of Chicago to the Northwest suburbs in late spring, with hopes of eventually acquiring a homestead in Southeast Wisconsin in a few years.

Finally, not much will probably be done regarding Energy and Sanitation/Health until after the move to the suburbs. But I do plan on getting some American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED instruction as soon as I can.

So, how am I doing with my preps?

Breaking them down:

Security- Truth be told, I had already been working on this area since 2009 when it became all too clear to me that wealth doesn’t do one much good when it can’t be protected. Subsequently, I have a number of different personal safety tools at my disposal now. I’m planning on adding more tools, related accessories, and lots of training as funds permit down the road. No time to rest on my laurels here (push for gun and other “control” relentless).

Water- Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that I’ve made quite a bit of headway in this area as well. For starters, I wanted to make sure my girlfriend and I had at least a two-week emergency supply of water for each of us. To achieve this, I acquired some new storage containers and purchased cases of commercially-bottled mineral water. As it stands right now, I have the capability of storing 25.11 gallons of emergency water in the containers, giving me and my girlfriend a 12.56 day supply of water each for drinking and sanitation if following Ready.gov’s calculations (at least one gallon of water per person per day). With the bottled water, we’re easily at that two-week mark.

Still, I plan on acquiring even more emergency water and storing it in used 2-liter bottles that have been thoroughly cleaned out, in addition to occasionally purchasing more cases of commercially-bottled mineral water when they’re on sale every once in a while.

Food- Haven’t made much progress in this area yet. Making a priority in the coming weeks.

Shelter- A lot’s been done in this area over the last several months. The plan to move out of the city of Chicago to the Northwest suburbs in late spring was realized, with the urban apartment exchanged for a single-family house in the suburbs. The acquisition of a homestead in Wisconsin still remains the goal. In the meantime, the house in the ‘burbs will serve as my “Project Prepper Lab.”

Sanitation and Health- Not much progress yet. Looking to book a American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class in the coming weeks.

Energy- Not much progress yet.

That’s it for my preparedness “progress report.” While I’m pleased with the progress made so far in the areas of Security, Shelter, and Water, I’ve barely touched Food, Sanitation/Health, and Energy.

Lots more work to do to satisfy these “innate survival needs.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Some Blog-Related Matters

Sorry for not posting any new material Tuesday. The fact is, I was busy contemplating some matters related to Survival And Prosperity. Regular readers may have noticed that blogging has been somewhat sporadic, current events-oriented, and Chicago, Illinois-centric for some time now. This was not my intention. While it would be easy to blame my newly-found homeowner responsibilities, a myriad of other projects/tasks, and those unforeseen challenges/setbacks that have a tendency to pop up in life when we least expect (let alone need) them, at the end of the day the responsibility for publishing a decent weblog that provides useful information related to “protecting and growing self and wealth in these uncertain times” rests squarely on my shoulders.

And lately, I’ve “dropped the ball.”

Going forward, look for blog posts not only being published Sunday through Thursday again, but bright and early in the morning. While I’ll still discuss current events, new posts will be released from the “Project Prepper” series along with other financial and personal safety information that readers might be able to utilize. I’ll also be reintroducing the different series of posts special to this blog. As such, a “normal” week of blogging should look like this:

Sunday- “Quote For The Week,” “crash prophet” activity, other posts
Monday- “Project Prepper,” other posts
Tuesday- Media review (movies, TV shows, books), other posts
Wednesday- “Signs Of The Time,” other posts
Thursday- “Resource Of The Week,” other posts

As for those Chicagoland-centric posts? Well, those will continue, although they won’t make up the bulk of what’s published. On a side note, there’s just been so much bad news coming out of the “Windy City” and “Land of Lincoln” lately I’ve been compelled to write about it in hopes local readers understand what’s at stake. A lot, if you ask me. For this audience, I’ll be exploring the different avenues available to them for making the best of their unfortunate situation that’s been decades in the making.

One last thing. I’ve received a ton of messages via the blog contact page. For some reason, viewers of the various prepper/survival-themed shows on TV these days are messaging me thinking I’m either the person they saw on TV or have their contact info. The contact info requests I get, but the other? Anyway, I’ll be working hard whittling away at my inbox. Your patience is really appreciated.

That’s it for now. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions related to Survival And Prosperity.

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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