So you have selected a bag, or more likely you have figured out that there is no perfect bag so you switch back and forth between a few based on the needs of the day. At least this is where I am at. Over the years items come and items go, but here are some things that always make the cut. Some are individual items and some are what I call Bricks, basically you can use any pouch the size of a standard brick to organize your things.
Water bottle- in the warmer months I usually use empty 32 oz Gatorade bottles. If I am heading to the woods I use my Guyot Designs Stainless Steel Bottle, 32-Ounce
I keep reloads in the Gatorade bottles. The primary reason is the ability to heat water and food in them. Not to mention dropping one in a sock to use as a heat rock after boiling it, to cuddle with in my hammock. That way when you get up you don't have to thaw out water for your coffee. I also consider a water filter part of this. Most of the time it is a, Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System
but if I am going to the woods it is my SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier
Headlamp- this is my primary preparedness light since it frees up both of my hands. Most recently my Petzl Tikka 2 Plus-Grey
came in handy when I had to change a flat along the interstate. I don't care what other lights you have, you need a headlamp in your bag.
First Aid Brick- contains my TIMS and Boo Boo Kits. Red paracord zipper pulls.
Power Brick- contains support equipment for electronics. USB cord with wall and vehicle adapters for my phone. Also four AA batteries and four AAA batteries, Headlamp stored in here as well. Marked with green paracord zipper pulls.
Repair Brick- Contains 50 feet of parachute corded wrapped into a fast rope, 50 feet of bank line and a sail needle, 100 MPH tape, bailing wire, and Crazy Glue. Marked with blue paracord zipper pulls.
Waterproof shell- clothing is nothing more than 1st line shelter and the foundation for this is a good waterproof shell. These days because I ride my motorcycle just about every day I am carrying a Harley Davidson rain suit jacket. Like all my shells I can fit a ton of layers underneath which will keep me warm. I have several different shells including one from Proper. The important thing is that it is windproof, waterproof, and breathable. Buy the best you can afford here.
Gloves- I use Mechanix Fast-Fit
even though most of the time I have leather riding gloves with me as well.
Eye Protection- this is a no brainer for me me because I wear glasses anyway. I just have a case to switch out my sunglasses for the regular ones. Included here is a microfiber cloth and Cat Crap to keep them from fogging up.
Shemagh- most are familiar with the Shemagh
these days, basically a large scarf in various colors. These are so many expedient field uses that I cannot list them all. Most of the time I wear under my hat when in the sun, and as a scarf in the winter.
You can add or subtract as you wish, but these nine items are in my bag no matter what I am doing or where I am.
24 October 2014
I first became aware of Col Grossman's Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs analogy around 1991 after graduating the US Army Military Police School. If I am not mistaken I found Col Grossman through a borrowed copy of Calibre Press' Tactics for Criminal Patrol
Over the years as a soldier, police, bouncer, husband, and father I have thought about what it means to be a Sheepdog. It is definitely not about the uniform, it is like the Sheepdogs skin and fur, you cannot take it off. These days more in the post 9/11 tactical subculture have been able read about the whole sheepdog thing. Many have even started companies to market Sheepdog identifiers from morale patches to sweatshirts.
What strikes me is the many versions of the Sheepdog, some look more like attack dogs. In 24 hrs I will be turning 42 years old, not old yet, but getting there for someone that makes a living putting their hands on people. Twenty years ago I might have looked more like the attack dog version of the Sheepdog. But these days, being more and more dedicated to my family, I see myself as Sam the Sheepdog from Loony Toons. Sam never moves real quick, much less runs, as a matter of fact he hardly says anything either. But he is constantly aware of the Wolf. He does not spend much time barking, which tends to scare the sheep, he simply stands ready to punch the wolf without hesitation every time he catches him up to no good. So yeah, I am still very much a Sheepdog, it is just that Sam is my idol these days. No need for him to broadcast to everyone that he is a Sheepdog, those he protects, and those he protects against know who, and what he is.
22 October 2014
My most recent interview with Kerry Lutz from FSN.
Good to see you came back. Hopefully you have been looking forward to part two. As you work on the mindset and training with your family, they will need tools. I know it might be tempting to get Momma that chest rig she has been eyeing for months, or the kids those A-TACS footie pajamas, but lets start simple. These simple items can be used to teach signaling, self defense, low light tactics, and first aid. These are the absolute basics that they need to have with them whenever they are outside the house.
Whistle- whether on a hiking trail or in a dark parking garage, you need to ability to draw attention to yourself as fast as possible. Nobody even looks anymore when they hear a car alarm, but a the sound of a whistle covers quite a distance and attracts lots of attention. My goto whistle for years has been the Micro Whistle . It is small, incredibly loud, and comes in several colors. Especially with the ladies and kids, getting them a color they like will increase the chance of it being carried. Let the little ones blow it a few times in the house to get it out of there systems. Then tell them that they are only supposed to use it in case of an emergency and go over some examples. Kids get it more than you think they do. This gave my wife piece of mind when my son got too old to go into the ladies room with her.
Pen- The most fundamental improvised defensive weapon. For more information about use just apply the same tactics discussed in Project Pencil. As discussed in Project Pencil, any pen or pencil will do. I would base how much money I spend on how prone the person is to loosing things. My favorite inexpensive option is the Zebra F-701 Stainless Steel pen. It is super tough and writes well. If you are looking for something of quality that will still not break the bank I would take a look at ProMag Defense Pen . It is one of my favorites but still inexpensive enough not to have a nervous breakdown if you loose it. Maybe this would be a good option for you.....the training officer.
Flashlight- Obviously for signaling and all around illumination, many flashlights work well as improvised impact weapons. Just use the same manual of arms as with the pen or pencil. Once again you can spend lots of money here, and might do so on yourself. When my daughter and niece started college a year apart I upgraded both of their lights to the Streamlight Stylus Pro Black . Super bright and inexpensive batteries, not to mention a pocket clip so it can be carried in the same positions as the pen. After checking out several AA lights over the past two years I settled on the Olight T25, which is now the Olight ST25 . This is a light that the wife and kids can have in their bag to back up their Streamlight Stylus. It is an excellent light with excellent features. Don't be like some tactical Dad's out there whose family is carrying a cheap light or no light at all while they are carrying a $300 torch that they can heat food with.
Bandana- last and but certainly not least. I carry an blaze orange bandana behind my wallet at all times. The primary purpose, besides signaling, is to apply direct pressure to a wound. Even though it is not ideal, it along with the pen or flashlight can be used to make and improvised tourniquet. This was why I started carrying it as a young officer. Just make sure that the one you carry is 100% cotton or it will not absorb anything, much less blood. I also like to use it as a mental "trigger" when I put it in my pocket to remind myself that bad things happen and I am prepared to deal with them.
Consider picking up a copy of The Gift of Fear and having everyone read it.
With Christmas right around the corner, get them some stocking stuffers they can use or that may just end up saving their life.
21 October 2014
Even though I live in southwest Pennsylvania, I ride my 92 Harley Davidson Fatboy year round for two reasons. The first is that it gets amazing gas mileage and the second is just to prove I am a bad ass. Just kidding, everyone already knows I am a bad ass. What is one of the many bad ass things associated with motorcycles....skulls. The Schampa Lightweight Skull Face Mask ;however is the only skull motorcycle thing I own.
When the weather started to get a little chilly (below 55 degrees for me), I knew it was time to get something to cover my grill, especially since I don't run a windshield. Since I only wear a half helmet, it is nice to have something to keep the rocks and bugs off my face.
After checking some options out, I settled on the skull mask. I have to admit that besides the great reviews on Amazon I thought kids in passing cars would get a kick out of it and they do.
The first thing you notice is that the mask is well made. The sewing is done right and the Velcro is tough but not too rigid. It is very soft and comfortable on the skin, yet really blocks the wind but allows you to breath. The bib covers your neck and tucks into my hoodie nicely. The graphic is high quality and now going on two months of use still looks new.
The thing I like most about the skull mask in comparison to my Schampa Pharaoh is that I don't have to take my helmet on and off to put it on. This is helpful during short stops like fueling up or grabbing coffee. Even now that it is chillier and I have the ear/neck insert in my helmet, there is still enough Velcro to still fit around my big head.
The coldest ride I have done with the mask was in 40 degrees at an average speed of 45 miles for about an hour. That works out to a windchill of around 25 degrees. Everything the mask covered was cozy. Everything that was not covered was a bit uncomfortable. Thus the reason the next day I ordered the Schampa Pharaoh. I find myself using both of them about every day I ride now. The Pharaoh in the morning and the skull mask later in the day. They compliment each other.
The one annoying thing that goes part and parcel when you wear any face mask with eye protection is the annoying fog. This is especially the case when you first get outside and your glasses are still warm. I manage this two ways, first of all I uncover my nose until my glasses cool down and I am constantly riding. I usually do the same at red lights. The second is using Cat Crap ... yeah, you heard me right, Cat Crap. After years of trying every snake oil concoction to put on my glasses to make them stop fogging, I heard about Cat Crap and gave it a try. It is not perfect, but is the best I have ever used. Your glasses may still fog up a little but the fog dissipates much faster if it does form. I reapply it about every other day.
So whether you are in need of an inexpensive last minute Halloween costume or just enjoy motor sports in the cooler weather, at $10.49 (Amazon Prime) give the Schampa Skull Mask a try.
We are happy to announce, after a few years absence from the New York Custom Knife Show, we will be returning on 21NOV14. We have been asked to do a Combat Pen Demo. The exact time is TBA. Of course we will not limit ourselves to the pen, you will also see some cane and Inverted Edge Tactics. We are looking so forward to seeing old and new friends. Stay tuned for more info.
19 October 2014
For as many people high speed low drag types that are hopefully reading this blog I surmise there are many more that have taken an interest in personal protection and preparedness since the last one or two elections. Since I have been doing this stuff since ALICE packs and Maglites were tactical, I cannot imagine how overwhelmed someone looking for good basic information must feel.
Having been blessed with an amazing wife and three incredible kids, along with my background, I believe this gives me a unique perspective to talk to the other American Dads out there trying to equip and train their families on a budget. Except for being free, why should you consider the information that I provide? First of all, I don't live in a vacuum and am willing to change my personal SOPs based on new information. The second reason is that I am not trying to sell you anything. A very small percentage of our readership will ever end up training with me. The money I do make off the blog and website is from a few inexpensive popular products.
So where is a Dad to start? Usually with picking up some gun magazines and the internet gun/tactical forums. Before long, you will be seduced by the need to equip yourself as if you are deploying to the sandbox. As packages begin to show up on your doorstep, you will get the "look" from the wife.
Before buying a single damn thing, you need to first assess your needs. The first thing is to accept that by default you are officially your family's training officer. Even though over the last 40 or so years the TV and media has done its best to portray Dad as just another fumbling idiot of a kid that an all knowing Mom has to take care of, we know our families still depend on us. Now I don't know about you but in my family I am the doctor, the vet, the mechanic, and overall owner of the responsibility to make all tough decisions. So regardless of whether or not you are willing, the wife and kids will turn to you to deal with life's unpleasantries.
So now that you have come to terms with your training officer position, how well do your wife and kids listen to you? Do they take you seriously? Most likely you will find that getting them to listen to all this personal protection and preparedness nonsense is like trying to get a grumpy old man to take his medicine. You need to wrap it in something they like. For me that has meant road trips, bonfires, and role playing.
Coming soon American Dad Part II- how to start equipping you and your family on a budget.