Saturday, January 23, 2010

BoB Blades

These are the bladed implements carried by seven men on this year's Annual Winter BoB Exercise. I know it's difficult to see - if you click on the pic it will enlarge.

I will attempt some cogent observations later but right now I need to go work on a wheel chair ramp for some poor widows... Arnold said, "I'll be back!"

A blog reader sent in this comment with regards to the picture: Is that a kukri? They would be on par with a machete for clearing brush, but I wouldn't imagine carrying one in a survival situation for their size and shape.
I started to post a reply in the comments section and just decided to bring it out here for all to see more easily.

It is not a kukri it is a parang - a bit lighter but still heavy. It's a jungle knife fashioned from a leaf spring. I am probably going to replace it with my Mora 2000. It’s heavier than a machete so it is not as good with light vegetation as a machete but it is much better at hacking through tougher stuff. And that’s the rub – it is heavy.

But the thing is, I have been on events where all of the wood was covered in a layer or ice, or soaked with rain, and I had to baton my way into them to reach dry wood. Now - I can baton with a Mora2k - sort of. And there are other lighter knives that can baton well - my wife carries a BK&T Camp Knife that is as big as my parang but much lighter.

Also, I have a background in Filipino Martial Arts and I can FIGHT with that parang. The balance, the edges, the handle geometry... Now, granted, I can fight with a Swiss Army knife as well and let's face it - I won't be fighting with my knife in a Bug Out situation - I guess I could but come on....

Another thing the parang does which a lighter knife will not do nearly as well is hack. And there again, truth be known - on the 20 or so events I have carried the parang along on - I really haven't hacked all that much.

There was some kind of touchy feely move amongst the “save the earth” hippy crowd back in the 70’s to get away from big aggressive (say it with a lisp) knives and simply carry a Swiss Army Knife or some such. And truth be known – you can do the vast majority of your knife chores with a very little knife. I gutted and went through the ribs of a young doe with an original Gerber LST (about a 1.5 inch blade). And while “a big knife will do anything a small knife can but not vice versa” is generally true – it’s hard to clean a rabbit with a foot long blade.

If I “could only have one thing” in a survival situation it would be a knife like that parang or a Cold Steel Trailmaster bowie. But I am not limited, am I? I have a whole BoB full of goodies. What it is coming down to with me, gang, is weight. I am getting older and am not the 30 year old mountain running stud I used to be. And really - we could all probably make better use of the weight allowance (no matter how fit one is – one can only carry what one can carry and so choices must be made).

So yeah, I’m probably going to bid adieu to the heavy knife. The good news is, I’ll have it out so I can actually play with it more.

See ya out there.

And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's rasor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weight, and divide the hair. – Ezekiel 5:1

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, January 18, 2010

6th Annual Winter BoB Exercise

For the sixth year in a row, some hearty souls determined to test themselves against nature with just their Bug out Bags (BoBs) to sustain them. Because they were hearty souls, they did it in winter.

We came up with this idea as a way to shake out the bugs, get rid of the winter blahs and really see if our BoBs were adequate. It is actually The National Winter BoB Exercise and everyone is encouraged to participate – with me or on your own. Just grab your BoB and live out of it for a couple days in January. As usual, we had old timers and newcomers. Some regulars did not make it this year and they were sorely missed.

Originally 20 men and women indicated they were attending but I think the weather (sub zero temps) two weeks ago scared a lot off. As it was, we had temps ranging from the mid 20s to the low 50s. It rained a bit at night – just enough to make us appreciate our shelters. All in all we had seven souls from four states attend this year.

As usual, we had a wonderful time meeting new people and getting back together with old friends. We linked up at a local eatery for a last meal on Thursday afternoon and then moved to the training area – a hilly landscape covered with rocks and trees. We simulated having to abandon our vehicles Enroute to our bug out location and then having to continue on foot.

After everyone rucked up we moved out about ¾ of a mile cross country. It was enough for folks to get a feel for how their BoB felt while doing something other than standing in the living room. One “newbie” to the whole idea had a small BoB – and had everything he needed. And had absolutely no problem carrying it. And probably could serve as an example to us all.

Everyone used some version of tarp for shelter – they are much lighter and smaller than tents and actually work better when used in conjunction with a reflected fire. One guy made a last minute switch of his poncho for a piece of heavy duty plastic. There is a lesson to be learned here: “if you haven’t tested it – it doesn’t work” (my buddy thought that phrase up). When he unrolled the plastic for the first time out there he discovered it was long enough – but only about two feet wide! DOH! Luckily we had an extra poncho in the group. The Mil-Spec ponchos are small – smaller than US military ponchos – buyer beware. I used my Swack-Shack and loved it. I made one shelter that I could stand up in.

After selecting shelter sites and getting sorted out we gathered around a fire and told stories and solved the world’s problems until late in the night. The next morning after breakfast (I eat instant oatmeal and make it by pouring boiling water into the actual pouch – saves muss and fuss) we packed up and moved about ¾ of a mile to another site where we remained for the next two night.

We had classes on moving in a safe and secure manner as a group and we did a bit of shooting. We hiked around and purified water at a stream with a variety of filters (I like the PUR like I bought my daughter better than my old school original and HEAVY Katadyn). We compared gear and discussed various options for doing various things (you really had to be there…) and solved more of the world’s problems.
Everyone had small personal fires and we gathered at a large group campfire at night – privacy and camaraderie all in one.

Some lessons learned and relearned:

• Most people pack BoBs that are too heavy for real cross country foot movement
• Most people overestimate how far they can go on foot
• Most of us need to get in better shape
• You can get by with a very small (day pack sized) BoB
• Water is heavy but you either carry it or make a lot of trips for more
• No one ran out of food – most had a lot left over
• Getting out and DOing is the only way to really test yourself and your gear
• Don’t be afraid of the weather – be prepared for it
• People are cool – Preparedness people are really cool
• You can heat water in metal canteens
• Goretex is nice
• A large tarp is very nice
• Backpacking stoves are fast, quiet, and low signature (smell, sight)
• Time spent around a campfire with friends adds to one’s life

And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing. – Isaiah 10:27

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Saturday, January 09, 2010


It was -15 degrees Fahrenheit this morning (that is -26 for our Celsius readers).

Some readers will scoff at such tropical temps. Others will shudder at the thought. I wasn't too terribly happy with the temperature this morning - I have thin blood owing to the fact that I was raised in very warm third-world countries. Well, that's what I tell myself anyway. But I had chores to do.

I'd like to tell you I went on some adventure but no - I simply had homestead stuff that needed to be taken care of. I shoveled ice and snow away from the mailbox down the road so we can get our mail - the plows had put a really nice "icecrete" barrier between the box and the dirt road. I had to carry water to the rabbit (two died so I'm down to one) and check on her food. Before I got there I had to shovel a new path due to the drifting snow. Then I shoveled the hump of snow at the end of our drive so nicely left there by the road grader/plow. Then I shoveled our walk way - AGAIN.

Once I got moving, I wasn't that cold. I lost the scarf and at one point took my pakool (hat) off - but not for long.

My wife was also out there. She spent a good bit of last night out in the goat shed (to call it a "barn" would be too much as you would probably envision electric lights and heat - ha!) waiting for a mamma to kid. We lost twin boys from our one meat goat yesterday and although we think they were still born, she was still concerned. As of this morning, still no babies. This morning she hauled water and hay to the goats - on foot; fed and watered the birds; walked down the road to the neighbor's to give them a belated Christmas present (we are like that); and then checked on her horse. All of this consisted of walking and much of it through "paths" of about a foot or two of snow.

Well, that's it - just a quick update. Hope y'all are warm.

See ya out there!

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. - Proverbs 20:4


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America