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Friday, April 17, 2009

Test Your Gear Before You Need It

Having a closet full of survival and camping gear is a great insurance policy facing the current economic collapse. I have accumulated a good supply of assorted supplies, as well as the needed items to go camping. So I decided to take a couple nights and camp out in the field behind my house to give my gear a good field test. I got the chance to test out my new tent, sleeping bag, flashlights, and a lot of stuff in my get home bag. It was a great learning experience and was a lot of fun getting to somewhat "rough it" with my pack. It's important to be familiar with your gear, including how to pack it into your ruck and how to set up and take down your tent, so if the day comes that you actually need the stuff, you will be familiar with it.

I went out on a Friday afternoon and cut plenty of firewood with my folding Sierra Saw. These saws work great and will cut through branches like you wouldn't believe. I cut a large pile of wood with only the saw and it worked great. I started my fire with my fire steel and cotton balls soaked hand sanitizer. It quickly created a flame which lit the small branches that got the fire going.

I went out with my pack, and set up my tent a few hours before dark so I could take my time and get familiar with how to set it up. My tent is a High Peak South Col, 4 season/3 person tent. It comes with the tent itself, and a full rain fly. It had plenty of room for 3 people to sleep in, and fit myself and my gear with no problems. I have an all purpose tarp that I put underneath the tent for extra protection from the ground It did not provide much insulation but kept the wind out and is a good quality tent.

I have a High Peak Summit 0 degree sleeping bag that I used on both nights along with a foam sleeping pad underneath me. The bag kept me completely warm even when the temperature dropped into the mid 30's. It was pretty cold in my tent but my sleeping bag and the sleeping pad kept me warm and comfortable. It's important to know what the temperature is going to be when going out for a camping trip. This ensures that you bring the correct sleeping bag, and the right clothes that you need. When outside at night around the fire I had on my 3-layer Army ECWS and never got cold sitting outside.

A few things I have purchased and took with me really made things a lot easier. They aren't necessary but are cheap and will really come in handy. The first item came in handy is a LED Headlamp. I purchased a 21 LED Headlamp from It is extemly bright with a long battery life and makes doing things at night so much easier because you have both hands. I also got a 33 LED Tent Light from Meritline, it might seem like a waste but it really comes in handy if you wanted to read or when your doing things in the tent at night, one of those will light up the whole tent and they have extremely long battery life.

For food I took a couple MRE's with me to eat for dinner along with my cheapo Mess Kit and Hobo Utensil Tool. I cooked the meals over my Alcohol Stove with the mess kit and also was able to make coffee and tea.

All in all it was a great learning experience and I got a chance to test out my gear and everything went surprisingly well. Most would call my supplies "cheap" but if you know how to use what you have then it works just as well as the expensive gear. It's essential to know how to use your gear in the field and testing out what's in your bug out bag or your camping gear is the best way to learn. You don't want to head into the woods never having set up your tent or getting a chance to try out your supplies. Part of having the prepardness gear is actually knowing how to use the stuff you have. This will make it a lot easier to make decisions if the situation came where you had to use the supplies.


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