Prepping In A Non-Permissive Environment

non-permissive

I’ve been fortunate that my last jobs have been where there’s either no stated ban on concealed carry or the rules were worded ambiguously enough (i.e. “No dangerous or illegal weapons”) to carry concealed without much worry. 

But not everyone is so lucky. To be honest, as I hang around the fringes of the “prepper” movement, I’m amazed at how many people think that “prepping” means carrying an M4gery and a thousand rounds of ammo with you at all times, as if a grid down situation would instantly turn into real-life Call of Duty. 

Prepping is a simple concept: It just means being able to deal with what life throws at you outside of your normal routine. Sometimes that’s a hurricane, sometimes that’s spilling coffee on your shirt. The vast majority of “preppers” need to learn to put down their plans to go full Rockatansky and just learn to smooth out the bumps in life’s rocky road. 

  • Flashlight: I like AA-powered LED lights because you can load them up with Lithium Ion batteries for longer shelf life, and if you need to replace them, you can find AA alkalines in the Tycho Crater..I own this little Pelican because it’s VERY bright but doesn’t scream “TACTICAL!”
  • Bandanna: Works as a tourniquet, hat, dust mask to name just a few uses.
  • Duct Tape: Look, it’s duct tape. Just have some near you at all times, you’ll figure out why later.
  • Compass: You can get cheap button compasses at a dollar store anywhere.
  • Signal Mirror: Useful for so many things.
  • Leatherman PS Multitool: TSA-approved. ‘Nuff said.
  • “Tactical” pen: Not TOO tactical, though. My “tactical” pen looks as threatening as Mr. Rogers, but it’s just as strong as the big guys. And carry a Sharpie or other “write anywhere” pen as well.
  • Paracord: Just too useful NOT to have around.
  • Cigarette lighter: I don’t smoke, but seeing how fire is usually on the top of most survival priority lists, having a source of fire nearby just makes too much sense.
  • Cell phone charger: I’ve yet to find a AA or AAA battery-based charger that actually works. The Morphie Juice Pack does work, though, and works well.
  • Extra medications: Just the basics. Also, spare glasses if you need them.
  • List of emergency phone numbers (laminated): Because relying on your phone’s contacts is a single point of failure
  • Small Water Filter: Ask anyone who’s traveled overseas just how important clean water is when you can’t get it from the tap.
  • Rain poncho: Because being cold and wet sucks.
  • Water bottle (empty): I like these Vapur collapsible bottles because they don’t take up a lot of space when not in use.
  • First aid kit: Make sure it’s free from TSA-questionable items.I like Adventure Medical Kits’ stuff, and I have a few of these lying around for “just in case”.
  • Pocket Road Atlas: If you asked me right now to get out of Phoenix without using the Interstate, I could do it pretty easily. St. Louis? Not so easily. A map works when there’s no cell coverage and no electricity. Get one.

Some other things to consider in a kit like this? Tide detergent pens for taking care of stains, hand sanitizer (which can also make a DANDY firestarter), wet wipes, and a decent supply of cash. 

Ok, so what do you carry that you can carry through a TSA checkpoint?

The Carbine In Context

su_16_bench_sm

My AR-15’s and the SU-16C aren’t my “go-to” weapon. It’s not even my secondary weapon, (that’s the Mossberg I have in my safe room), the rifle is my third choice: It’s gun that I would use if I need something more than my CCW gun if I’m outside the house. I’ve taken a really good defensive carbine training class, but I need some defensive shotgun training, as (God forbid), that would be my secondary weapon I’d go to not my AR-15.

Oh, and I need a good class in first aid/trauma. That too. 

Prepper Fest AZ Observations and Opinions

Its been a spring full of expos and shows for Exurban Doug.  The latest event I attended was the Prepper Fest AZ Expo, which was held last weekend at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.  I had a chance to check out the exhibitors to see what was new and exciting in the preparation realm.  Here are some of my thoughts on the event.

The Good

There were some noteworthy exhibitors that bear mentioning.  Alan Korwin from Gunlaws.com was there, who is one of the authorities on gun laws in the USA.  If you own firearms, consider purchasing one of his books on gun laws in your state.

Joel Ho from Mobilesec Solutions was there with his Starfish Defender line of EMP shields.  These mesh Faraday enclosures allow you to operate electronic devices while being protected from EMP.  Another helpful feature of these shields is it prevents your NSA mobile tracking device cell phone from being triangulated via RF signals.  Go to his website to find out more but this was perhaps the most fascinating product from the show.

ProtectmyPapers had their flash drive on display as well.  This is a credit-card sized device with a memory chip on a hinge that flips out so it can be attached to a computer.  It includes all the software necessary to securely store important data on the card.  The data is encrypted too, making it more secure from hacking.

Then there was the Biffy Bag™.  The best way to describe it is a portable toilet in a pouch, it is simply brilliant!  This can really come in handy during camping trips, hunting trips, vacations, hikes, and other outdoor adventures.  It can also be helpful in a disaster situation where both water and sanitation are in short supply.  Great product in my opinion.

iTAK Medical was there with their line of medical kits.  These are designed for traumatic injuries from gunshots and other penetrating wounds.  They have two kits for under $100 and are an Arizona-based company too.  I plan to pick one up for my range bag in the coming weeks, it could be a life-saver.

The Bad

This event was at the Fairgrounds, which is a lousy facility in a very sketchy part of town.  The whole area saw its best days over thirty years ago and as an expo venue it is marginal at best.  There are better locations out there that would draw more people and present a better face for the preparedness movement.

Also, the level of professionalism by the various exhibitors varied a great deal.  Some looked and dressed the part of a business, some looked like hobbyists, while others looked like wacky survivalists.  For preparation to become more mainstream, exhibitors need to present themselves in a professional manner to be taken seriously by Middle America.  Preparation is serious business, exhibitors need to treat it that way and not as an excuse to act like amateurs.

Some of the products I have my doubts about too.  When a lady told me “wait until my husband gets done talking with that guy.  He builds these in his garage and can answer all your questions about them…” it did not fill me with confidence.  If I am buying a product, I want to know there is more than just one guy standing behind it in case I need support.

I also noticed several exhibitors selling “off the grid” land for bug-out situations.  I’m not convinced that bugging out of town (with hundreds of thousands of others) is the best idea in most situations.  The money spent on land could be more effectively used on a multitude of preparations around the house for situations that are likely to happen (ex. power outages).  Fear and paranoia are being used to sell expensive things most people aren’t going to be able to use in an emergency, which I find disturbing.

The Ugly

There was a lot more camo-clad attendees at this expo than the recent gun shows that I attended.  Hey, I like my Woodland pattern BDUs too but I don’t normally wear them while I am out and about.  I think doing so reinforces a negative stereotype of a prepper;  that of a militant, somewhat paranoid person who is obsessed with doomsday.  Wearing camo doesn’t help make preppers seem reasonable and normal to our neighbors.

There were a lot of fat and out of shape people at the expo too.  While this reflects American society as a whole, it shows that many preppers are emphasizing gear and tools over self-discipline and fitness.  Emergencies test the body’s ability to respond under stress, which is why the military subjects its personnel to physical and mental stress to prepare them for duty.  Civilian preppers need to concentrate more on fitness and overall wellness in order to be ready for the unexpected.

Another thing that bothered me was the use of the term “sheeple” by some of the exhibitors.  Using this term does not help because of its use by conspiracy theorists and political extremists.  When I hear that word, I get the impression that the person using it is attempting to assert superiority over others.  This kind of arrogance and self-righteousness is unbecoming and does not belong within the prepper community.

The Cray-Cray

The anti-GMO folks were at this event doing their best to whip up opposition to science and modern farming.  Here again, well-meaning but misinformed people are doing damage by parroting misinformation about a complex subject they simply don’t understand.  If these people knew more about agriculture, they wouldn’t be protesting.

Yes, there was actually a chemtrail booth at the expo too.  I just shook my head and refused to accept one of the DVDs they were giving away.  Chemtrail believers are akin to those who fell for the whole crop circle hoax, they won’t believe the evidence when it is presented to them.  I don’t get this particular conspiracy, I am simply baffled by it and regard it as a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the Ronulans haven’t gone away either.  The cause they are pushing for now is ending the Federal Reserve, which echos what the John Birch Society has been calling for.  They weren’t vocal, just present and focusing on the Fed for now.  That said, there is an element of paranoid, libertarianism within the preparation community.

I’ll have some additional observations regarding this event over at Smart Suburban Survival, stop on by for other preparation-related posts when you have a chance.

Another Gun Lock Test

This time, it was a GunVault BreechVault and my Mossberg 500. Jaci had some issues with gun handling on the shotgun after the lock was opened, so now I’m looking around for another storage solution for this gun, and I’m leaning in this direction right now.

And no, leaving it loaded and unlocked is something my wife and I are not comfortable with right now. Yes, my kids know the Eddie The Eagle mantra by heart, and yes, because they’re around them all the time, guns are not tempting to them. 

Don’t. Care.

The odds of them mishandling a gun are 10,000 to 1. But the consequences of that one time are so devastating to me, they negate the other 9,999. 

Testing a gun storage myth

I don’t recommend people keep loaded guns in the open around the house. I think the safest place to keep a gun in the home is the safest place to keep a gun outside the home: In a holster, on your body, and if you don’t want to carry it on your person, put it in a safe. 

But, you say, a safe takes sooooo long to access. Why can’t I just put the gun in a drawer and load it when I need it? 

Because that’s not faster than a gun safe, that’s why. 

If I’m honest, that result completely surprised me. I was not expecting it to be so close that my shot timer app couldn’t tell those two shots from each other. The gun safe we used was this safe from Paragon Safes, and I think if we had put the drawer where it belongs (in a nightstand) and used a GunVault safe (which are easier to use), the results would have been even more in the gun safe’s favor.

Spend your money on nothing and the derp’s for free.

Or, derp sells, but who’s buying?

See this class? This is just the kind of firearms training you don’t want to take.

  • Small 30 Person Classes
  • Real Training Against Real Opposition
  • Taught By An SOF Operator

“Small 30 person classes”?!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA. I’ve taken one class that had 30 people in it with 4 instructors, and quite frankly, it wasn’t worth my time.

And then there’s this

Screen shot 2014-03-02 at 8.58.58 PM

Double the lethality? Isn’t that called a double-tap?

Yeah… Thanks, but no thanks.

If you want to pay $500 bucks to spend two days re-enacting the battle of Fallujah, go ahead, there are worse ways to spend your time and money. Just don’t call it firearms training.

Look, I’m sure the operator who’s teaching this class served with honor doing stuff I don’t ever, ever want to (or could) do, but don’t confuse what you’ll be doing with the type of firearms training that’s actually useful for living a civilian in America. Spend it on pistol classes that work for you, not for Seal Team Six.

Creating a Go Bag

The devastation and ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina shook my faith in the government’s ability to respond to a major urban catastrophe. Like a lot of Americans, that was my wake up call to get myself and my family prepared to deal with whatever may happen outside of our normal routine.

We have a bug-in/bugout kit in the home that provides for 72 hours of food and water for ourselves and our pets, so I set about creating a “go bag” for my car that would provide with enough supplies at least 72 hours of safety and security no matter where I was in Arizona.

That last part that presents some unique challenges, because the climate in Arizona can vary greatly from place to place. As I write this on a February morning, it’s a warm 79° in the Phoenix area, but in Window Rock in the northeast part of the state, it’s a full 20 degrees cooler. This means I have to prepare for the brutal heat of the Sonoran desert to the cold of high snowy mountains and everything in-between. What doesn’t change, though, is that there’s not a lot of water to be found in our state. More on that later.

My thought process for assembling this stuff was pretty simple: Have something to cover the basics of outdoor survival, (fire, water, shelter, signaling, navigation, food and security), and have at least one backup for each of those needs.

So this is the rig I’ve created to get me home no matter what.

Bags: Galati Gear 30 Inch Rifle Bag (L), Paladin Go Bag (R)

Creating a go bag

The Paladin bag has MOLLE straps galore on it, a fact that I take full advantage of by adding an additional hydration pack, ammo pouch, dump bag and first aid kit to the outside, along with a Gerber Prodigy on the main strap. I love this bag, and it (along with a gallon and a half of water) fits quite nicely into the trunk of my little Civic.

Go bag and water in the trunk of my car

The rifle bag is new and bought specifically for my Kel-Tec SU-16C. It’s small, discrete and makes a dandy sleeping pad if I need to sleep outdoors.

su16c_kit_smI’ve added a sophisticated single point sling anchor fior the SU-16C: It’s a 1/4″x 1-1/4″ hitch pin, and it does the job just great. Attached to that pin is a Blackhawk! Single Point Sling. I love this gun, and I think it makes a perfect bug out gun. It might be too much gun to pop squirrels for food or not enough gun to drop a moose in one shot, but for everything else, it works great. Besides the rifle, the case contains two AR mags full of defensive ammo, a spare battery for Vortex Strikefire Red Dot that’s usually on that rifle and the factory-installed takedown pin for the SU-16C.

Paladin Bag – Outside Pockets

Ok, now we get down to the nitty-gritty. Since I’ve taken these photos, I’ve removed some items and added others and made a note when things have changed.

bag_pockets_smClockwise from Upper Left:
A pair of dust masks (because haboob), Quikclot, pouch for AR Mag/Pistol Mag, dump pouch, flashlight (a $5 light from Lowes that is incredibly bright), spare mag for my Sccy CPX-1, flashlight pouch, Gerber Prodigy knife, scabbard for the Gerber, Frost Cutlery knife (removed), cheap AM/FM radio (removed), button compass, razor blade, water filtration straw. whistle, lighter, Gerber Multitool, tinder, fire sparker, signal mirror, waterproof paper notebook, magnesium strip and flint sparker, moar tinder, Kleenex-brand handtowels, chemlights, burn gel, Ibuprofen, Imodium, Zyrtec, hand sanitizer, moar hand sanitizer (gone), sunscreen (gone), adhesive bandage (gone), alcohol wipe, sunscreen/bug spray, spare batteries.

I had built up this bag bit by bit, so when I finally laid out everything on the table I realized I had a lot of duplicates of duplicates. Two is one and one is none, but five might be overkill, so I pared everything down do just the necessities. And the Kleenex hand towels are pretty cool: They’re the “wipe” part of a moist wipe, so they work just as well when wet but are easier to carry and don’t dry out.

First Aid Pouch

first_aid_smI moved a lot of first aid supplies from the side pockets into this pouch to consolidate everything, so what I have now doesn’t look like this.

Clockwise From Upper Left:
Elastic bandages, tape, abdominal pad, dressing, adhesive bandages, burn gel, oral pain reliever, ibuprofen, smelling salts, safety pins, butterfly strips, alcohol swabs, tape, Gerber Powerframe, Israeli combat bandage, triangular bandage, wrap bandage.

Most of this stuff was cobbled together from a variety of first aid kits. I’m always amazed to see how many of the “survival” first aid kits don’t take dehydration and diarrhea into account with medicinal pills or water purification systems. Living in the desert has taught me that you’ll die of bad water or no water long before you’ll starve to death.

Paladin Bag Side Pockets

side_pockets_smDoes it seem like this bag has a lot of pockets? You’re right, it does!

Clockwise From Upper Left:
Work gloves, heavy-duty aluminum foil, paracord, clear plastic sheeting, pvc tubing, spare batteries, smartphone connection cords.

I am a big believer in the utility of the modern smartphone. In a large disaster scenario, text messages can go through when most other forms of communication are down or overloaded, and there are apps out there for first aid, emergency services frequency scanning and other survival needs. And hey, you can always play Angry Birds on it while you wait for help to arrive…

Center Pocket

Again, some of this stuff has been swapped out with other stuff since I took this photo.

interior_contents_smClockwise From Upper Left:
Spare clothing, sun hat, tarp, emergency rations, chemlights, extra zip-close bags, can openers, Esbit stove, pencils, zip ties, knife sharpener, wire saw, stove fuel, emergency cash, playing cards (because boredom sucks), compass, tissues, coffee (a necessity of life), spare eyeglasses, water purification tablets, duct tape (replaced with smaller roll), cup, trowel, rain poncho, moleskin pads, goggles (because haboob), wind-up AM/FM radio/phone charger, sunscreen, mylar emergency blankets.

I realized while unpacking all this stuff that the roll of duct tape I had in the bag was frickin’ huge, and as much as I love duct tape, it’s just takes up too much room, so it had to go. The Paladin bag also has an interior pocket for a hydration bladder, so between that bladder and the one on the outside, I can easily carry a gallon of drinking water with me wherever I go. That’s not enough for the long-term, but it’s a start. If I were living somewhere that wasn’t so dry and hot, warm clothing and rain gear would be more of a priority for me and I’d probably carry around less water.

Next Steps

To test whether this gear actually works and what I might need to replace, I plan on doing a three-day hike next month with just this gear and some extra water to keep me going. Loaded up, both bags weigh just 26.5 pounds, or about 35 pounds with a gallon of water, so it shouldn’t be that heavy to lug around. I’ll have a report when I complete and/or survive the trip…