Review: Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living

The title is a mouthful, but I didn’t name the book.  It’s author, Jim Cobb, did.  What he tried to do was write a comprehensive guide for the newbie prepper that would also be valuable to the experienced prepper as well.

So, how did he do?

Well, in my opinion, he did quite well.

Cobb has an easy, conversational style that helps make a difficult and potentially stressful subject far more entertaining and easily to digest.

However, the book isn’t necessarily as complete as one would hope.  In fairness, that’s probably because entire volumes could be written on each chapter.  Cobb is instead giving readers enough of an overview that new preppers can hit the ground running while experienced preppers might pick up a trick or two.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I found it a pretty worthwhile read, and kept a few highlights on my Kindle, but I found much of the information to be pretty basic.

So, what would I do with this book?  This is the kind of thing I would hand to a neophyte prepper, especially one who is only luke warm about prepping as it is.

As I said, the information is pretty basic.  However, Cobb also does a good job of offering up texts that provide far more detailed information on whatever subject he’s talking about.

Like I said, he offers up a nice, digestible chunk, then tells you where to get the full deal.

Unfortunately, judging by some of the negative reviews on Amazon, that’s not sitting well with people.  One issue was a typo in the book, warning against storing long grain rice.  I recall reading that and being concerned because my own rice was long grain.  However, upon further review, it’s obvious he’s talking about “long grain and wild rice” rather than long grain white rice.

One of the more interesting topics in the book is one I had the least interest in, and that was his chapter on communities.  Cobb goes into the various roles people will need to fill, and even broaches the subject of how to deal with criminals.

Honestly, it’s a topic that we need to think about and try to determine some good, solid answers for prior to everything coming apart.  During the stress of the apocalypse may not be the best time to decide how to deal with the jerk who stole Great Aunt Edna’s silver.

I rather enjoyed the book, and while this may not be one I would keep on a bookshelf at Camp TEOTWAWKI, it’s one I wouldn’t hesitate to offer up to new folks.

On a scale from one to ten, I’m giving it a 7.5 out of 10.  While the information is somewhat basic and more of an overview kind of thing, Cobb’s style is fantastic and well worth reading on that basis alone.  I highly recommend reading his work just for the entertainment value of his prose.

However, go into the book with an open mind and simply expecting to be entertained.  I have little doubt you’ll pick up a trick or two, but just let that be the bonus. Click below to purchase your copy (via my affiliate link, of course.)

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Review: Cold Steel G.I. Tanto

I bought the Cold Steel G.I. Tanto several years ago.  At the time, I was looking for an all-around knife for prepping purposes, one that would do well around the camp and could help me take out a bad guy if the need arose.

I selected the G.I. Tanto because it met several of my criteria at the time, primarily being carbon steel and affordable.

The G.I. Tanto by Cold Steel

The G.I. Tanto by Cold Steel

As you can see from the photo, the knife comes with a Kydex sheath (they call it Secure-Ex) and boasts an 8″ blade, with a 5″ handle, bringing the total length to 12″.  This is not a particularly small knife.

Further, the Kydex sheath is attached to the belt via a webbed loop that also has a snap that secures the knife in place…which is redundant since the sheath is a tight fit for the knife all on its own.

The knife itself came with an edge but wasn’t particularly sharp.  Since it’s carbon steel, however, that was remedied in short order.

One thing at the time that struck me was how mucking big this thing is.  I suck at judging distances and lengths, so I wasn’t really expecting something this size.

My knife with a can of beans for scale

My knife with a can of beans for scale.  I camoed mine though.

However, despite the length, it’s surprising light considering.  It’s not too light, where you feel like you’ll break it or anything, but just light enough to be comfortable carrying around whether you use it or not.

It’s a sturdy piece of kit, but I’m hesitant to recommend it for other preppers.

For one, it’s length.  It’s too short to be a general use knife, too long to work as  a machete. I suppose there are uses for it that I’m just not thinking off, especially since the blade is a pretty good thickness.  Maybe you can use it with a mallet of some sort for splitting purposes.

One thing I disliked is the black finish.  The material is fine, but black?

I get it.  They do this to make it look “tactical” and all that.  The thing is, I have grown to hate “black” for tactical/prepping purposes is stupid.

You see, black stands out in a lot of circumstances when you want to blend in.  The G.I. Tanto?  Yeah, it’ll stand out.

Luckily, I could take some spray paint cans, a bit of camo netting, and make it far more likely to blend (see photo above of my knife).  However, I took the webbing off.

Personally, the webbing is a waste.  The Kydex holds the knife really firmly in place, so snaps are unnecessary.  All it does is serve to lower the knife on the body.  While that may sound like a good thing with a foot-long knife, I disagree.  The handle is short enough that a clip on the sheath itself would be sufficient.

Not only that, but I think Cold Steel missed an opportunity here.  Had they simply put an attachment point on the back of the sheath, they could have then sold various systems for carrying the knife.  A clip for your average user, PALS compatible clips for the more tactically minded, and who knows what else.

As for the webbing, it’s easily removed by loosening the two screws.  Personally, I laced mine on a “battle belt” with some paracord.  I’ve found it to be plenty secure so far, though I have thought about attaching some clips to give it a more secure attachment to the belt.

My knife on a battle belt.  It rides nicely behind my pistol holster and blowout kit.  So far, it works just fine.

My knife on a battle belt. It rides nicely behind my pistol holster and blowout kit. So far, it works just fine.

My overall impression is that the knife is a solid purchase, though perhaps not the best place to start for a prepping knife.  I’ve got a Mora Companion due in tomorrow to serve as a better general purpose knife for me.  The Cold Steel G.I. Tanto is designed more as a combat knife, and for that purpose, I suspect it’s awesome.  Especially for the price.

I can’t recommend it, but I can’t give it any kind of negative assessment either.  This is a “your mileage may vary” kind of knife, in my opinion.  However, for the price?  It’s not like you’ll go broke if you pick one of these up.

Assuming this isn’t your first knife.  If you’re getting started prepping, this is probably not where you want to make your first purchase.  Otherwise, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Click photo to pick one up via my affiliate store:

5/29 Week In Review

It’s been a pretty busy week on the prepping front.  Realistically, it’s also time to slow down just a bit.  This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon after all.  However, for the first time in a while, I’ve got a month or more’s worth of food.  That makes me feel a whole lot more confident.

So, let’s review just a bit. Continue reading

More Food For The Family

Yeah, I already talked about food a bit the other day.  Well, last night I transferred my 50 lbs bag of rice into mylar bags and sealed them up.

That’s a first for me.  You see, while I always talked a big game I never actually had done any of this.

Luckily, all the theory pretty much prepared me to actually do this thing.

Just the buckets.  That big box of rice is what we're using now and I don't count it as stores.

Just the buckets. That big box of rice is what we’re using now and I don’t count it as stores.

Well, OK…the reality is that it’s just not that difficult a thing.  You put the rice in the bag, drop in an O2 absorber, then seal it up.  I’ve heard some people throw the rice in the freezer to make sure anything in the rice is good and dead.  Personally, I’m not sure I’m wild about that.  It’s another step and how is anything going to grow without oxygen?

So, I skipped it.

Now, a few notes from my own experiences.

First, I used one-gallon mylar bags rather than dropping a five-gallon bags.  This was more about using the rice.  We don’t really have anywhere to keep an opened bucket of rice without raising questions.  So, I decided to use one-gallon bags for storage.  That means we can open one up and pour it into a canister and not raise any eyebrows.

One gallon mylar bags. Three fit easily in the bucket.  Since it's a five-gallon bucket, however...

One gallon mylar bags. Three fit easily in the bucket. Since it’s a five-gallon bucket, however…

Next, my buckets.  As you may see from the photos, they’re just some blue buckets from Lowe’s.  I can see some of you cringing right here and now, and I empathize.  However, here’s the thing to remember: The rice never touches the bucket.

The rice is vacuum sealed.  The mylar will keep out anything and everything except rodents.  That’s why we put the rice in buckets in the first place, right?  Well, when it’s sealed in mylar, the bucket being food safe just isn’t as important as it might be otherwise.  Especially since the bucket is really just used as a container for holding the sealed bags.  They’ll literally never be opened in the bucket.

Now, there’s a downside to this.  Primarily, I could only manage to put three bags in each bucket.  That’s 15-18 lbs, rather than the 35 lbs that a bucket can normally handle.  However, even that has an upside.  My wife can easily handle one of these buckets while a fully loaded bucket might be more problematic for her.

However, for the most part, this method will take up more space than if I’d just used five-gallon buckets.

Now, another note about Lowe’s buckets.

OPSEC is one of my hallmarks.  With the blue buckets, should someone see them stacked in my house, there’s absolutely nothing that would scream “FOOD!” to them.  In fact, it’s a home improvement store.  It’s probably something to do with one of the billion or so projects I’ve got going on here at the house, at least in their mind.

Now, I’ve still got to label the buckets.  The trick here is to label them so that it won’t raise any further questions.  Probably labelling the lid will work on that front.  I’d do the bottom, but that’s just begging for problems.

Still, it’s kind of nice to have such a nice cushion for a change.

The thing is to expand that so I have even more of a cushion.  That’s what’s next.

Review: Edsal Heavy Duty 5-Shelf Shelving Unit

If there’s one thing preppers probably don’t have enough of, it’s…well, it’s everything.  However, we tend also to find ourselves short of shelves to put our preps on.  That was where I was, so I hit up Amazon to see what I could see.

DSCF0002That’s when I found this, the Edsal Heavy Duty 5-Shelf Shelving Unit that just called to me.  Well, now that I’ve put it together and put some stuff on it, it’s time for the review.

This is a 72″ tall, 36″ wide, and 18″ deep solid metal shelving unit that’s designed to be both durably constructed while simple to assemble with a minimum of tools.  That’s a very tall order for anything.

Did it succeed?  Let’s find out.
Continue reading

Food, Glorious Food!

The real mark of a prepper/survivalist has got to be food storage.  Gun folks don’t always have food stored, and neither do your bushcraft crowd.  No, we preppers do food storage.

However, that’s something I always slacked off on in the past.  It’s what I beat myself up over time and time again because I knew I needed to store food.

Well, today was kind of a big day at the house. Continue reading

When Fitness Goals Conflict With Prepping Goals

My family has one thing in common with a significant number of preppers, whether those other preppers want to admit it or not.  We’re fat.

Yeah, I know.  I’m not supposed to say that about my wife, who I love, but we’re definitely overweight and I’m not doing anyone any favors by pretending otherwise.

Because we’re having weight issues, we are trying to be careful about what we eat.  Carbohydrates are one of the biggest reasons most Americans are overweight.  For years, many of us were presented the “Food Pyramid” as the pinnacle of healthy eating.  We were told to eat tons of grains on top of our vegetables.

Couple that with lifestyles that are constantly on the go, prompting many to grab fast food as a dietary staple rather than an occasional treat, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Continue reading

Down With #10 Cans!

The venerable #10 can is popular with a lot of preppers.  These are the big, industrial-sized cans you see on the shelves of Sam’s that are loaded with green beans, peas, carrots, or whatever.  They’re awesome, right?

Well, they’re popular with a lot of preppers, that’s for sure.  It makes sense.  One can with a lot of food, often at a discount because of the bulk, is a wonderful thing when you’re trying to store a lot of food.

However, I’m not a fan. Continue reading

What I Prep For And How?

I’m not going to tell you what to prep for, must less how to prep for it.  I barely know how to do most of this stuff myself.  However, what I’m prepping for — as well as my basic philosophy of prepping in general — is essential to discuss in order to understand why I make some of the decisions I make.

First, let’s understand that most preppers tend to pick a “worst case scenario” to work toward.  Prepping for a hurricane or tornado is one thing, but if you’re ready for the zombie apocalypse, an ice storm is small potatoes.

For me, the worst case scenario is any kind of electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  An EMP will fry out any non-hardened electronics which includes most of our infrastructure.  Only a handful of systems will survive, but those won’t be enough to handle the massive breakdown in social order.

The terrifying part is that this will happen at some point.

You see, there are two ways an EMP can be produced.  The first is through a nuclear explosion.  One high up in the atmosphere would disperse an EMP that could envelop the entire country.

And that’s the best case for an EMP since other nations wouldn’t be impacted and could give us aid.

However, EMPs are also produced by the sun.  A coronal mass ejection (CME) can and has produced a massive EMP that could cause even more damage.  A CME is a massive solar flare.  In the 19th century, a CME fried out the telegraph system in this country.  Luckily, that was the only electrical system in place at the time, so we survived.  If that happened today?

Yeah…not so good.

So, for me, that’s what I’m prepping for.  To me, an EMP would send us back into the early part of the 19th Century, and we’d have to learn how to make it all over again.

Now, with that in mind, I’m going to tell you what I don’t plan on having.  Since electricity will kind of be a non-entity, the soft glow of an electric light on in your home may serve as a beacon, calling on people to come and kick in your door and take your stuff.

So, that’s where my philosophy of prepping comes in.

I’m prepping for a permanent collapse, the end of all that we know.  As such, my preps aren’t going to be heavy on solar panels, battery operated gadgets, etc.  I’m going old school.

Instead of electric lamps, I have oil lamps.  Instead of digital copies of every prepping book imaginable, hardcopy is more practical for me.  Get the picture?

Of course, I’m not stupid.  While an EMP will eventually happen, there’s no telling when a CME will bring one, and terrorists may never use a nuke in such a way.  I’m not spending my life in fear.

I know that my preps are far more likely to be used to weather a nasty storm, a flood, or some other natural disaster.  I might (God forbid) even have to deal with some scary civil unrest like a prolonged riot.  We might even have to deal with something like Venezuela is dealing with, things like food shortages and empty grocery store shelves.  All of these are far, far more likely than an EMP.

But here’s the thing to keep in mind: If you’re ready for an EMP, you’re ready for almost anything.

Plus, my own plans for things like lighting don’t necessarily invite the curious.  An oil lamp glowing?  They’re common enough (though not necessarily common) that they don’t invite interest.  Candles are the same way.

Especially when no one else has anything electrical.

But that’s just my thinking on stuff like this.