Archive for February, 2012

Product Review: LokSak

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

When I was at the SHOT Show this past month, one of the booths that caught my eye was the LOKSAK booth. LOKSAK manufactures “the only resealable and completely waterproof, dust proof and humidity proof storage bags on the consumer market”. The nice people over at LOKSAK gave me a number of bags to test out so I thought I’d do a review for you guys here.

From first glance, they appear to just be heavy-duty Zip-Loc bags. However, the thing that sets them apart from standard Zip-Loc bags are pretty clear on closer inspection: The material it’s made from and the unique seal.

The bags state that they are “Certified waterproof to 200 feet” and “Puncture-resistant”. I thought I’d test these two claims as best as possible.

LOKSAK waterproof seal test

Unfortunately I don’t have access to a 200 foot depth of water to really test this claim, however I figured I could at least test the waterproof portion of it.

The first step in the waterproof test was to test the seal (since I didn’t feel submerging my iPad without testing that first). So I blew up the bag that fits the iPad with some air, sealed it shut, and stepped on it:

The bag easily held my weight without the seal opening or the bag breaking (clearly a Zip-loc would fail this test).

Once I was confident in the seal, I sealed up my iPhone and my iPad in two separate LOKSAK bags and placed them in my tub and ran some water over them until they were completely submerged.

It passed the waterproof test without issue (thankfully).

LOKSAK puncture resistance test

Next, on to the puncture resistance test.

Since the claim is not “puncture proof” it wouldn’t be fair to take a knife to the bag. So instead I took a semi-pointy object (a .223 round) and tried to push it through the bag:

The bag actually stretched to accommodate the increased pressure (pictured below). Although the round did eventually burst through (not pictured), I was surprised at how much give the bag had.

Industry proven

Although my tests were in no way scientific, I did find the LokSak bags to be extremely durable and well-designed. But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what the industry has said:

  • Certified waterproof to 60 meters / 200 feet
  • Tested and approved by the Navy Experimental Diving Unit
  • Safe – Constructed using medical-grade film that is FDA approved.
  • Temperature rated -40F to 140F
  • The US Army Special Forces Group Dive Detachment also uses them to protect their valuable electronics from salt water and hot humid conditions.

Beyond iPads

So what else can these bags be used for besides electronics? Well practically anything that requires protection against the elements. That includes food, important documents, valuables, cash and so on. And since LokSak makes bags large enough to accommodate your firearms (yes, rifles included) these would also fall under the list.

Given the strength of the seal and the sturdiness of the material, if you are into burying some of your preps or even submerging them to keep them cached away for a future time, these bags would be fantastic for that purpose.

In conclusion, if you can’t tell already, I highly recommend these.

Why Be Subjected to Ridicule by Appearing on "Doomsday Preppers"

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Here’s a guest post written by Dennis Evers who is featured on the new show “Doomsday Preppers” produced by National Geographic. He provides some insight into why he chose to be featured on the show despite potential ridicule or OPSEC concerns

When “Doomsday Preppers” contacted me and asked if I would be willing to put my family on their show I was reluctant, but it was put up or shut up time. As a former police chief, I’ve written for years in my spare time (when I’m not building signals) about disaster preparedness and recovery, terrorism and business continuity for some of the most prestigious security, business and government oriented publications in the US; most of them on assignment. My emergency response book has sold over 160,000 copies globally to police, fire, the Secret Service, all branches of the military and government, and is used by numerous Fortune 500’s as an emergency SOP. How could I turn down the opportunity to preach preparedness to a national audience?

One concern I had was that they would do things like call our gateless property that has “welcome” signs hung about, a “compound”, or take other “dramatic license”. Granted, they did stage some scenes to “spice things up” but after all, it is TV and it is entertainment and quite frankly, preparing is boring.

We are not prepared for doomsday; I simply advocate being prepared for any type of crisis that might affect my family. Act of God or act of man, their safety is paramount. If people wish to put the survival of their loved ones in the hands of corrupt, dysfunctional, self-serving political and financial systems that has each taxpayer owing $135,732.00 (as of 2/11/12) that’s their right. Source http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Our preparedness has allowed us to ride out several snow storms and power outages without a hiccup. When a massive forest fire encroached, we took in families and livestock because we were prepared, not for doomsday, but for fire. Our grass was green and mowed, with a huge safety buffer and portable water tank, pump and hose.

Those that didn’t have basic disaster prep in the form of a defensible space fire plan lost their houses because it always happened to “someone else”.

As far as my kids go, they are taught skill for life, not disaster skills. Things like how to change their oil, starter, brake pads, how to do some basic wood and metal working so they can build things. My girls all know how to completely service their vehicles bumper to bumper because it saves money, helps insure that some unscrupulous mechanic won’t be able to take advantage of them, and might get them safely home if their car breaks down.

I am not a tree-bark eating, live-in-a cave type of guy. I simply believe in the Boy Scout motto, and feel that the onus of survival rests squarely on our shoulders. Look at all the people sitting on roofs post-Katrina that didn’t have the foresight to take food and water up there after they pooh-poohed numerous warnings to evacuate. We have an oblivious generation whose entire existence is “i” toys, worshipping vacuous celebrities and brawling over sneakers.

As far as security goes, there are no guarantees whatsoever in life so we will continue to simply keep an eye peeled and trust in God alone.

I’ve had some pretty wild things flung at me for being on the show, (and as a cop) but one thing about age is the older you get, the less you care about what other people think. If TSHTF and I weren’t prepared, I couldn’t face my family.

If anyone saw the show and realized that they should invest in some basic prepping, that’s great and it was worth it. A family that has a one or two month’s supply of food and water will be less of a burden (and a threat) on an already over-taxed emergency response system. If they want to take it further, good for them. For those of you that think we’re nuts, you’re absolutely entitled. Just be sure you enjoy the Kool Aid.

For more information about Dennis Evers, his book and how to contact him please visit HowToHandleACrisis.com

Please Welcome our Newest Sponsor – My Family Thrives

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Just wanted to take some time to welcome our latest sponsor to TI – My Family Thrives!

Amy over at My Family Thrives specializes in selling food-storage related products made by Shelf Reliance. Here’s a little about My Family Thrives and Shelf Reliance:

Shelf Reliance is the leader in top quality food storage and food rotating shelves. Their specialty foods are freeze-dried, which have been picked at peak ripeness, flash frozen and 99% moisture removed.

This process preserves the nutrition, color, shape and flavor of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy, giving THRIVE foods up to a 25-YEAR shelf-life! What an incredible investment!

Use the website to calculate and customize your food storage needs, find recipes & begin your road to preparedness. Amy at My Family Thrives is an Independent Consultant with Shelf Reliance who has been practicing and teaching food storage skills for the past 7 years. Why just survive, when you can THRIVE!

You can visit Amy’s online store at MyFamilyThrives.

*Note: Amy gives special discounts for large purchases (over $400) if you contact her through her website before ordering. Please don’t hesitate to ask her if you have any questions about products or need any assistance with long-term food storage. She’s always happy to help!

Book Review: Holding Your Ground – Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I recently received a copy of a new book entitled, Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart. This book is primarily an instructional guide that addresses an often overlooked aspect in prepping literature: defending your home during a SHTF situation.

In this post, I’ll be taking you through a chapter-by-chapter breakdown and overview of this book and hopefully you’ll have a better idea of whether it is worth the buy.

Since the real meat of the book begins with chapter 3 (chapters 1 & 2 are intros and how to use the book) I’ll be starting the in-depth review there.

Holding Your Ground book review

Chapters 1 & 2: Decisions and How To’s

The first two chapters are basically just an introduction into what the book is going to be about and how you should use it.

The intent of the author is not to have you passively read the book cover to cover but to get you to actively assess (through the process that the author lays out) what the status of your defensive capabilities are and how to increase them.

Chapter 3: The Methodology of Preparing Your Defense

In this chapter the author gives detail into his methodology he uses when preparing for defense. This “methodology” basically covers a set of six tests that every item or plan must pass through before being added to his preps. They are as follows:

  1. Do no Harm – Will this cause harm to my property value, family lifestyle, moral character, code of values, or position as a law abiding citizen?
  2. Dual Purpose – Can this item be used beyond emergency (ie bugout gear can also be camping gear and food storage can be used day to day)?
  3. Avoid People – Will this help me avoid people (since people will be the source of problems in TEOTWAKI)?
  4. Ease of Use – Can my family operate or use this? This prep or plan should not cause further problems.
  5. Look to the Military First – What does the military use or how would they plan for this?
  6. Must Work at Night – Since movement or problems may happen at night, can this be used or carried out when there is no light?

The remaining sections of the chapter cover some terminology that will be used at a later time

Chapter 4: The Event Horizon

Taking the basics of human social behavior, the author in this chapter describes how societies typically respond to a crisis over time. This changing response is what he refers to as the Event Horizon. This can be summed up as follows:

  1. The Event: The start of the timeline. This is the trigger that kicks off your plans. This could be anything from a local tornado to a nation-wide EMP blast.
  2. Social Grace: After the event has occurred there is usually a small period of time where people try to work together to get themselves through the crisis. This is a time of safety and security and if it’s a small crisis, life typically goes back to normal.
  3. Realization: If the event is severe enough, realization will set in. This is the stage in the timeline where self-centeredness begins and security is on a fast decline. (For example, this is the period of time where looting happens).
  4. Desperation: As time goes on and help, food, security and other basic needs are not met, desperation sets in. This is the time where it starts to get very dangerous and normal people (out of desperation of course) begin to do things they otherwise would not to get those needs met.
  5. Reorganization: At one point or another, humans will organize. How quick this happens depends on the severity of the event, but eventually it will happen. Safety and security are again on the rise when this stage sets in.

Chapter 5: The Location

In chapter 5, the author begins having you actively analyze the place you are planning to defend.

By using the spreadsheet he provides, you will rate your property based on each of the factors he lays out in this chapter.

Regardless of whether you are bugging-in or bugging-out, you will need to be ready to defend wherever that location is. This can be a home, campground, apartment, or underground bunker.

There are four factors the author says you’ll need to consider when analyzing a location that is to be defended:

  1. Population Density: This is the overall density of people living in the surrounding area of your location. This gives us an insight into how many other people we would need to potentially deal with.
  2. Proximity to major roadways: Even if your immediate surroundings don’t contain a lot of people, if your close enough to be reached by car then this could also pose a problem.
  3. Physical Area to be defended: This defines the size of the area you plan to defend. The larger the area, the greater resources you will potentially need.
  4. Visibility: This relates to how “visible” your location is to the surrounding areas. Being a well-lit beacon at the top of a hill can be detrimental if there are swarms of food pirates roaming the streets.

Some other factors the author briefly covers as important are things like having the high ground, multiple positions and angles of defense, and barriers of access to your property. Each of these are covered in more detail in future chapters.

Chapter 6: Assets

Chapter 6 makes up the meat of this book. In it the author takes you through an in-depth analysis of the assets and capabilities you have at your disposal for the purpose of defending your location.

For example, some of what you will be analyzing in your own situation is the group of people (your family, your survival group etc) who will be counted on to help you defend your location. You’ll take a look at the attributes/skills (shooting, combat, fitness, medical, psychological etc) each of these group members has and apply them to an overall “group rating”.

Depending on the score of the “group rating” as well as the “location rating” determined in chapter 5, the author recommends whether it makes more sense to shelter in place, or bug out to an alternate location. And wherever that final spot ends up being, whether a passive or active approach to defending that location is best.

The remainder of this chapter contains instructions and guidance on how to improve your location’s ratings. Here’s a little bit more of what’s covered:

Passive and Active Defenses

Creating a passive defense involves staying “invisible” to those who would seek to invade your property for whatever reason (food, resources etc).

This includes physical barriers that restrict trafficked areas from viewing your property to making your property look so unappealing or already looted that people would pass it over.

An active defense is the opposite in that you project “strength” (real or feigned) so that would-be attackers would rather seek out weaker targets.

  • Diversions and Deterrents: Deterrents are what prevents someone from attacking you because you look or are strong. Diversions on the other hand are distractions intended to draw off attention from the point of main attack with the purpose buying you some time to either gain the advantage or bug out if needed.
  • Light discipline: This involves hiding your light at night so as not to draw attention to your location.
  • Noise discipline: Noise is something that can be difficult to completely prevent (especially if you have younger children) but should be something to be aware of if discreetness is a concern.
  • Multiple Angles of Fire: An important determinant when assessing the feasibility of defending your location is the number of positions you can fight from (or how many angles can you shoot at an attacker).

    The ideal you want to reach is to be able to spread out your defensive positions in multiple locations on your property (home, barn, etc). This prevents the attackers from having one single area to focus in on which makes it more difficult for them to defeat you.

  • Fighting Positions: In this section the author details how to best set up defensive positions throughout your property which allow for the best observation, cover, accessibility, and concealment.

Chapter 7: The Perimeter

Chapter 7 continues where the previous chapter left off by delving into the area which surrounds the working area of your location.

The location is considered the central ring and it is where you operate on a day-to-day basis (the area which contains your dwelling, yard, garden, barn etc). The area outside of that is your perimeter. This perimeter can be further segmented into two zones an inner ring closest to your location called the “observation zone” and the outer ring called the “patrol zone”.

The author goes into details about what the priorities and tasks should be for each of these zones. He then lays the ground rules which should be followed for all location types and whether your group consists of 1 or 100 members:

  • Your defenses need to be progressively stronger as the enemy moves from outer to inner rings.
  • Your observation capabilities should increase as the enemy moves from outer to inner rings.
  • Your Early Warning Systems (EWS) should become denser as you go from outer to inner rings and..
  • Your Area Denial Systems (ADS) should become more effective as an enemy goes from the outer to inner rings.

The remaining sections of this chapter details the strategies the author covers for perimeter defense.

He covers the importance of creating range cards, the different types of electronic EWS you can employ as well as some manual and DIY systems. He also gives some examples on how to integrate your EWS with your AWS to further tighten down your location.

I thought there were some great details listed in this chapter that can be implemented in many locations: rural, suburban and in many ways urban as well.

Chapter 8: Safety in Numbers

Chapter 8 goes into a bit more detail on how you can improve your group rating.

Basically he talks about having the members of your group — who are capable of handling firearms — get training.

He also briefly covers some other important skills that should not be overlooked like small engine repair, EMT or advanced first-aid training, gunsmithing etc.

Chapter 9: Low Rise Apartments and Condos

For those of you living in a low-rise apartment or condo, the author gives some tips in this chapter on how best to protect yourself if you were forced to shelter in place.

He covers some of the advantages and disadvantages as well as provides details into overcoming some of the primary disadvantages.

If you are currently a renter and are looking for a place to stay, the author also gives some recommendations on what to look for in a place which will provide you the best defensive/offensive advantage.

Chapter 10: Highrise Apartments and Condos

Chapter 10 is for the prepper who lives in a highrise apartment or condo (ie skyscraper).

To the author’s point, this is the least advantageous place to be in if the SHTF. Although it provides good views and overwatch positioning, you are pretty much trapped if something were to happen on lower floors (the main problem being fires). He recommends finding an alternate bug-out location.

If this is all you have right now, he does offer some advice and tips into making the best of your situation (many of the tips from chapter 9 will apply here as well).

Chapter 11: Weapons

This chapter will surely be a point of contention for many preppers — especially those with weapons experience.

Even though I don’t agree with everything the author’s puts forth in this chapter, I do feel overall he is right on the money and this is a fantastic chapter for those just beginning their purchases of survival/defensive firearms and optics.

He basically covers what types of weaponry you should purchase, giving considerations on ammo type and budget, as well as optics and other accessories that will help in protecting your home.

Chapter 12: The Rules of Engagement

If life ever gets bad enough that you are required to defend your home from bands of looters and and other less-than-savory folks, the rules of law will no longer apply.

This chapter is all about setting the ground-rules for your group so that everyone is clear on what types of action warrants what types of response. Here are some of the scenarios that the author recommends your group should have a plan for (there are many more that your group should plan for depending on your situation/location):

  • The position everyone should take when contact is made or approaching people are detected.
  • The action eveyone should take if fired upon.
  • Will your group accept new members post event?
  • Will your group barter?

Chapter 13: The Author’s Plan

In the final chapter, the author delves into his own situation and location, essentially going through the process of rating his group and location as layed out in this book.

Final thoughts and comments

It’s funny, when I first received this book I was a little turned off because of the amatuer design of the cover (not that that should matter),figuring it to be one of those prepper books with little in the way of content that one could actually use. To my surprise, it turned out to be an excellent book. Here are my thoughts:

Overall I found this book to be an excellent addition to any preppers library. It addresses an often left-out part of most prepping literature and the author’s ability to relay that information in an easy-to-understand manner is one of the best parts of this work.

For those of you with infantry/combat training, many of the ideas here will be old hat for you. But for the non-combat trained person this will help to go a long way in improving the defensive capabilities of your location.

As far as criticisms of the content go (don’t be dissuaded by the cover), I do not have many. In some cases though, like the section on hiding your location by making changes to the facade of your property or implementing large-scale camouflage, I really wanted the author to get into more detail around the “hows” of things, specifically showing some actual examples. I felt he only touched upon this subject.

On another note, the author references other publications (like in the sections on tactics) but does not state which publications to read. A bibliography or recommended reading list would have been a great addition.

All in all, Holding Your Ground is a fantastic book and has opened my eyes to where the weaknesses are in my own location and defensive plans. I highly recommend you picking up a copy of this book.

Please Welcome Our Newest Sponsor – InternetPrepper.com

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Please welcome our newest sponsor, Internet Prepper to TI!

Internet Prepper (internetprepper.com) specializes in selling grain mills, freeze dried and packaged food, as well as some survival items. Most of their items ship for free and they generally have the lowest prices anywhere.

I’m not just saying this.

Typically I buy a lot of prepper gear through Amazon.com (given the volume they generate at Amazon.com, you generally find the most competitive prices there). However, when I compared some of the prices between InternetPrepper.com and Amazon.com, I was surprised to find that at InternetPrepper.com many of the prices were even cheaper.

Not only that but Internet Prepper is owned by a great gentleman by the name of Chad, a Texas prepper for over 3 years now and an US Air Force veteran.

Being that it is prepper owned, you’ll be sure to find products that are in line with exactly what a prepper needs — with some great prices to boot!

Be sure to support them by visiting InternetPrepper.com.

Doomsday Preppers: A Preview

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012


Photo copyright National Geographic

I had the opportunity to get a preview copy of the first episode of the upcoming show called Doomsday Preppers which will be airing next Tuesday, February 7th on National Geographic.

I wanted to take a moment to give you guys an idea about what the show is about and what my initial thoughts and reactions are.

From the introductory scenes I immediately thought that NatGeo was going to paint these preppers in a negative light (which I’ve seen other shows do). To my surprise though I thought they did a great job at staying neutral and just documenting what these various preppers are doing if the SHTF.

The first episode documents three different groups of preppers from vastly different walks of life:

  1. A group of 22 preppers from Texas with various skills (military, farming, homesteading etc) with plans of sheltering in a fortified compound capable of being completely off-grid and having 15 years of food storage for all 22 people.
  2. A solo surivivalist in L.A. with plans of living off the land using mostly local plants, wildlife and his wilderness survival skills.
  3. A young 20-something apartment-dwelling female from Houston who has enough supplies to last the initial 2 week chaos with plans to bug out to Mexico.

The basic outline of the show is as follows: Get a glimpse into the lives of each group of preppers, find out what they are preparing for, what types of preps they have, and what they are going to do when the SHTF. At the end of their segments, each prepper receives an expert assessment from Practical Preppers (a company founded by longtime preppers) who share their experiences and knowledge giving them tips on what they could improve upon. After some time, NatGeo follows up with them to see what types of changes they made after the initial assessment was made.

Without going into details about each group (I don’t want to ruin it for you) my feeling is that overall I really liked the show. Not only did I find some of the preppers inspiring (giving me some great ideas for my own plans) but I felt National Geographic did a great job at keeping the tone of the show very neutral and not condescending in any way.

I’m sure many of the everyday Americans that will watch this show will find some of these people (or maybe all) crazy and extreme, but for me I felt right at home (which maybe categorizes me into the “crazy and extreme” crowd :)).

All in all I give the show a thumbs up and would recommend you all to check it out the premier next Tuesday, Feb 7th 9PM EST.

You can get more details by checking out the Doomsday Preppers official website.