Prepping – because stuff happens

Local Austin news channel KEYE just did a story on Austin-Area Preppers. Featured in the story? Paul Martin, also known as The Suburban Dad Survivalist and a fellow KR Training assistant instructor.

What I appreciated about the piece was it was taken seriously. Sure, they had to tie in the “whacko survivalist” angle, but they did seem to appreciate and emphasize Paul’s practical approach — that it’s not really about zombie apocalypse:

Prepping became a passion for Paul after hurricane Andrew hit in August of 1992.

“For the next 17-days I had no electricity in my apartment in Miami in August, so it was really hot and we had to boil the water in order to drink it. From that point forward I said I’m never going to put myself or my family in that type of situation again,” says Martin.

And one thing people may not realize? That 1 year worth of stored items Paul has? It’s not necessarily just for his consumption:

“When someone is prepared that is one less person that has to rely on the government or charitable organizations to make it through the crisis and one more person who can assist others,” Martin says.

Assisting others.

Nice spot, Paul!

My new EDC Flashlight – SureFire E2D

For the past 3-4 years, I’ve carried a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman as my every day carry (EDC) flashlight. I carry a flashlight all the time and at the ready because it’s useful. I didn’t realize how useful it was until I started carrying one all the time — I use it almost every day.

But over the years of carrying the E2L, my preferences have changed and a couple months ago I started on a quest for new EDC flashlight. I’ve hit a milestone on that quest – I’ve obtained a new flashlight, a SureFire E2D LED Defender

SureFire E2D LED Defender

First, it’s important to note this is the LED model; there’s earlier versions of the E2D that were not LED. Second, you’ll note the different tailcap in the above picture; I’ll discuss that below.

Why did I pick this? Because it fit all my requirements.

  • I wanted a higher beam output than the E2L, and with 200 lumens the E2D certainly meets that.
  • It has a better beam quality, but I’ll discuss that below.
  • The first click on the E2D activates the high beam (E2L, the low beam). My needs these days find me needing “most light, right now”, which means I want the first press of the button to give me a solid beam of lots of light.
  • It has a clip, and a clip in the “right” direction for my needs. One of my biggest uses of the clip is to hang the light from the brim of my cap so I can illuminate whatever I’m looking at (hands-free), and of course the beam moves with my head and eyes.
  • High and low beams, because while much of my current needs are “most light, right now”, sometimes I need to read something or see something else, so low beam is good. And no strobe.
  • The form factor is right for my hand, for my carry, etc.. BTW, my existing Comp-Tac flashlight pouch works just fine because the E2D and E2L have just about the same form factor. I did note I needed to tighten up the pouch a little bit for the E2D to fit, but that’s not a big deal.

So… my needs were met, thus.

Regarding the beam quality, from what my eyes can tell it’s actually pretty much the same beam as the E2L. But because it’s more lumens, things just look better. So I reckon it’s not so much the beam as it was the strength. To compare, the Streamlight Super Tac-X I have also has a 200 lumen output, but the beams of the Tac-X and the E2D are different — this is due to the reflector. The Tac-X is designed to really throw that light, so the beam is a little more focused and appears to reach further. The E2D certainly reaches far, but the light is… well, the best way I can describe it is closer to a floodlight than a spotlight, but it’s certainly not some sort of “room-filling” light… it’s still more spot than a ceiling lamp, but I’d just say the E2D’s beam is a little more “spreading/filling” than the Tac-X. That’s fine for my needs, because while I do want the throw, I also need the “fill”. What I’d really like to do is get out in the country where I don’t have the light pollution of the city and really see how the beams compare.

The clip is shorter but VERY strong. It’s tough to get under it, whereas the E2L’s is longer and “looser”, very easy to get under. That’s fine, if over time it means more durability and less chance of accidental snagging of the clip.

In the few days I’ve had the light and used it, it’s worked well and I’ve been pleased. It’s what I’ve been after.

However… not everything is rosy.

SureFire E2L (top) and E2D (bottom)

See the above picture and compare the two lights. Certainly they are cut from the same cloth, the difference being the E2D has this “Defender” styling. That’s a bit of a mixed bag.

First, the crenelation is of course part of the purpose of the thing. But it’s a little sharp. While of course that’s part of the point, when you pull the light in and out of the belt pouch all day AND the light is up against your bare skin well… sometimes I skewer myself. Just annoying.

Second, the this affects the accessibility of the tailcap button. Notice in the picture you can see the E2L’s button but you cannot see the E2D’s. They rise up the same, just the E2D has the “walls” around the button. I found this made it difficult for me to activate the button. When I hold the light and hit the button with my thumb, either I’m holding it wrong or I just don’t have enough thumb meat to get that button depressed. For me to work it, I have to come at the button with my thumb pointing down into the button and use the tip of my thumb – hardly practical for me. When I grab the light, regardless of how I grab it, I should be able to just press and go, but alas, the tailcap doesn’t allow it. Thus why you see the mixed light in the top picture – I just switched to use my E2L’s tailcap. It works fine.

Third, note the texturing on the body of the flashlight. It’s a bit more aggressive on the E2D. That’s great for a grip, but in the pouch, on my belt, against my skin? It’s sandpaper. It’s not majorly uncomfortable, but there’s enough times when I bend or twist my body just so and get rubbed and it’s annoying.

All in all these annoyances are minor, but I’ve also only had the light a few days. Over time I may grow to hate them or they’ll fade into the background and I will barely notice them. Time will tell.

But for now, the E2D stays on my hip as my new EDC flashlight.

Fun Family Day

If you look down on “rednecks”, both the people and the things they do, then you should stop reading now because this post will probably offend you. 🙂

Had a wonderful day with the family today. Originally we were to do this during my Christmas vacation, but since I was down with the flu it didn’t happen. Fortunately the heavens saw fit to give us today, so the opportunity was taken.

The main thing? Going to the gun range and shooting. Some work, some recreation. Thank you, Karl, for letting us use the range.

It started off with me doing some live fire pistol skills work, because of my desire to start shooting IDPA. Details on this elsewhere. Meanwhile, Wife and Kiddos were inside the range house doing schoolwork (the joys of homeschooling).

When I finished my work, I took Wife out for a little work with the shotgun. She wants to improve her proficiency with the shotgun, so we did some work there. Alas, a 12 gauge, even with low-recoil rounds, just isn’t in the cards for her (Karl, if you find her shoulder, please let me know). She’s just fine with the 20 gauge. I just wish … oh wait! It looks like Federal now has a 20 gauge buckshot with FLITECONTROL wad (PD256). Holy crap! This is awesome. Of course, as I look around right now, everyone’s out of stock. But wow, this is great. I’m there and it’s pretty much removed my reserves about the 20 gauge. Sure it’d be nice to standardize on 12 gauge, but oh well. At least now I don’t have to put up with sub-optimal 20 gauge buckshot.

After that, Wife was done for the day. With the wet weather and the temps in the 40’s, it was just too cold for her to keep going. But the Kiddos were ready.

I recently purchased a new shotgun and needed to break it in and ensure function. I ran a bunch of 12 gauge target loads through it, then some full-power buckshot (of course, the Federal FLITECONTROL), and some slugs (Brenneke low-recoil slugs). The slugs didn’t want to go into the mag tube easily for some reason, looks like the brass was hanging up on the retainer clips, but no big deal really. Everything functioned great. I did put a 12″ Hogue Short Shot stock on it (shorter LOP makes for easier shouldering) and while 12″ LOP is a little too short for me, it worked out alright and I didn’t smack my thumb into my face as much as I expected I would. 🙂  I consider the shotgun functional and able to be pressed into service.

Oldest has never shot a 12 gauge before — he’s always been a bit recoil shy. But today he stepped right up to the plate and fired it like a champ. We’ll work on speeding up his shot recovery, but he really did a great job with it.

Youngest has never fired a “big gun” before, just .22’s. But he wanted to try the shotgun. 12 gauge was too much tho, so I pulled out the 20 gauge (a Mossberg 500 Bantam youth model) and let him try it with some light target loads (which are still kinda stout). He handled it well, tho was taken aback a bit because it was a big boom — again, it’s the most gun he’s ever fired. But he did come back for a second shot, but that was enough. 🙂

We put the shotguns away and took out an AR-15. I originally didn’t plan on bringing out an AR, but when packing up this morning, Oldest expressed interest in shooting it and I wasn’t going to say no. Again, he’s been very recoil shy in the past, only wanting to shoot .22’s. So for him to want to step up is great in my book. I mean, I know he can handle it, after having shot that 255# feral hog a couple years ago with a .308 bolt-action. Oldest got to learn what “giggle factor” is. 🙂  He was having WAY too much fun with that rifle — I should have brought more ammo. Daughter shot it for a bit, but she tweaked something in one of her arms the other day and so it was kinda painful to hold up the rifle. Youngest tried the AR as well, and was quite pleased that the recoil was far less than the shotgun — tho it was a heavier gun to hold up.

We put the long-guns away, and pulled out everyone’s favorite: the Buck Mark Camper. All 3 kiddos shot at the steel targets with this, and it’s just fun to plink with such a low-recoil gun — tho Youngest did get bit by the slide. Daughter showed some good improvement on trigger control. She asked how you get to shoot faster, so I explained a bit and I guess something clicked because she was shooting a little faster by the time we wrapped up.

While a lot of today was about having fun, it also was with purpose. I want my kids to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves. Yes, that means being able to shoot a gun proficiently. You may not understand why that’s the case, and if you don’t understand I’d be happy to discuss it with you; even if you don’t agree with it, I hope you are willing to have an open mind and come to listen and understand. The guns shot, the things we did, all done with purpose, even if I was the only one that knew what the purpose was.

Alas, we had to wrap it up before everyone was tired of it, but that’s ok — always leave them wanting more.

We headed to the Elm Creek Cafe for a delicious lunch (everyone loves that place), then back home.

Oh… and the Buc-ee’s in Bastrop is finally open. Yes, we stopped in. Finally my family came to understand why I adore Buc-ee’s.

We had a great day. Smiles all around. Happy family. I can’t wait to do it again.

Looking for a new flashlight — do you have any input?

For many years I’ve carried a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman. It’s part of my every-day-carry, and in fact I use it almost every day. It’s because of that daily utility that I chose that particular model of flashlight.

However, over the past year I’ve started to have a change of heart. Many new flashlights have come to market, and over the years of carrying I’ve started to find myself wanting… a little more, a little different. And probably too much time hanging out with TXGunGeek, who is also a big flashlight geek.

What’s my beef with my E2L?

  • High-beam output. While my E2L’s high beam is pretty good, there’s better out there now. I’ve found myself in enough situations where I wished for more light.
  • Beam quality. I don’t know how to describe it, but the high beam feels… fuzzy. Maybe it’s my (aging) eyes, but compared to some other flashlights I have, there’s something about the light quality that just doesn’t provide me with the best picture. It’s certainly good enough for most things, but if I can have a little better, since again, my eyes are getting older and anything I can do to help out is A Good Thing™.
  • High first, low second. There’s no question I want dual-output because much of my every-day light needs require a low-beam. Originally I wanted the low-beam to come on first since I figured most of my needs were mundane and didn’t need to blind myself. Now I want the high beam to come on first, because I find myself in more situations where I need a lot of light right now and don’t need to waste time clicking through beam modes. I decided if I needed low beam mode, it would likely not be a “need it immediately” need and I could do something like press the flashlight into my stomach or leg to suppress throwing light, click through to low, then there we go. Besides, when you need a lot of light right now, you need it now and need to be able to just slam the light on and get the light. Yeah I tried many times to just get used to “half click, release, full click” to get as quick as I could over the low mode and locked into the high mode or doing 2 full clicks, but it’s just too error prone, too time consuming, and too loud.

So it’s not much, but it’s enough to motivate me to look for alternatives.

But on that token, some things I would prefer to not give up:

  • Clip. The clip is very useful, especially since I can hang it off the brim of my hat for hands-free use. That means the clip needs to attach near the head and point back towards the tailcap (like the E2L has). So many flashlights have the clip attach at the tail and run towards the head, which can be good for keeping the flashlight in your pocket, but isn’t very usable during use.
  • Dual mode. I need high and low beam. Strobe? Oh please… no.
  • Size. I like the E2L’s size. First, because it means 2 batteries instead of 1 thus more runtime. Second, the diameter feels good in my hands in terms of being able to hold a grip and not lose the flashlight in my hand.

And then there’s one thing I flat out do not want: strobe. This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco. I do not need nor want strobe. I do not want to waste time clicking through a mode that I don’t need, that all too often will accidentally fire because I’m trying to click through to the mode past it. If someone can tell me how strobe is actually useful, please comment. In the dark, it just screws up YOUR vision too, and again it’s too many modes to click through to get it. Enough Low Light shooting classes and strobe never comes up as useful.  But, I will admit I recently found a use for it. While taking Kiddos around the neighborhood this past Halloween for trick-or-treating, I carried a Streamlight Super Tac-X because low beam is good for close-up work (e.g. picking up dropped candy); the high beam is bright, crisp, clean, lots of throw, lots of spread, really lights things up which can be useful when walking around in the dark and well-behind a group of kids that might need some illumination in front of them (throw!). And then… yes… strobe was useful when we would cross the street. I would aim it down at the pavement and let it blink, and saw more than enough cars react to the flashing strobe (vs. other times when I’ve used a plain beam) and slow down. So yeah, THAT was useful. But for my EDC flashlight? No strobe.

There’s no question the awesomeness of Fenix Lights, especially that they have such great output, quality, and runtime on ubiquitous AA batteries, all at such a low price. The Fenix lights I presently have are great.  Because of them, SureFire and Streamlight have had to pick up their game. So lots of new and interesting stuff out there. I focused on these 3 companies. I did look at some others, but they either were no longer in business or their lights could all be eliminated from consideration because they had features I didn’t want (e.g. Blackhawk, NovaTac, Pelican).

Streamlight didn’t have anything that would fit my bill. Mostly lost out on the clip front. In fact, on the clip front alone I pretty much eliminated most every flashlight out there. *sigh* The two I found were:

Fenix LD22 (S2)

SureFire E2D LED Defender

The Fenix has a lot of win all around. Many different modes/levels of light output. Cree LED’s. A tailcap switch, but also a side button; so yes, that means there is a strobe mode but at least it’s not part of the tailcap. There’s a clip, but I’m mixed on the fact it’s removable. Sure that’s cool from a sales standpoint, because they can sell it to more people. And I kinda like that if the clip snagged on something it would just break away instead of bend (how many times have I bent my Spyderco Delica clips because of a snag?). But… that also means it can break away, which may not be what I want. I’m unsure about the clip. I think tho the bigger concern is while it’s cool it remembers the last output setting and uses that next time you turn it on, that means if the last thing I did was read a map but RIGHT NOW I need a lot of light, I won’t get it. The Fenix looks good in so many regards, but I’m not sure it will win the “tactical need” test. But it’s only like $60, so I might pick one up anyways because I could see a lot of use for this in other contexts, like camping or hunting.

The SureFire E2D. Funny how things happen. My only beef with this? The fact it looks aggressive. Of course, that’s the point of the “Defender” models, and I’m honestly not bothered by it myself. But as I wrote in my old “why I like the E2L” article I specifically avoided that light for its looks. At the time I was active in Boy Scouts and a lot of parents there did not “get it” and would freak out at the thought, and I just didn’t need the grief. As well, I flew and didn’t want to have some TSA goon take my $150 flashlight. But these days? I don’t fly. I don’t do BSA, and operate my life in a different context. Besides, I’ll still have my E2L in storage and can always pull it out and use it if context changes.

So yes, presently I’m leaning towards the E2D. I even emailed Comp-Tac to see if their flashlight holster for the E2L works for the E2D.

What’s your input?

13-Nov-2012 Update: Comp-Tac replied:

From what I can tell the e2d and e2l have the same bezel diameter. However, the e2d has that crenellated bezel, which adds to the length a small amount.
I would feel comfortable in saying that it would work.

So I figure if I go with the E2D, I’ll get it, try it, and hope for the best. If I do have to buy a new pouch, I reckon the existing one would work well enough until the new pouch arrived.


A proper training mentality

I was pointed to this article, “On Being a Beast“. If you come to my blog for gun and self-defense stuff, you should read this. If you come to my blog for weightlifting stuff, you should read this. If you come to my blog period, you should read this.

The article may come primarily from the realm of strength training, but the message applies to any sort of training. The writer, Johnny Pain, talks about a conversation he was having with a friend about why they train. A question:

What if you were being sentenced in six weeks for a crime that you did not commit? (Or fuck it, what if you did commit it, I’m not one to judge).

How would you spend the next forty-five days? Think about it.

And all you gun folks reading this, oh yes, it could happen to you even if the situation was totally righteous. How would you spend the next 45 days?

Well, if it were me, I’d want to be the meanest, toughest, nastiest, most beast-like human being that I could be.

The concerns over training minutia would go out the window. Arguments over percentages or head and eye position on the squat would seem rightfully retarded. All that would matter is building a body that was strong and capable. Times to completion of various arbitrary tasks would be of little importance, as would one-rep maxes performed for other people’s benefit.

Things like biceps peak, body composition, quad sweep, or whether or not you could do a particular parlor trick on the rings would be unthinkable notions pushed aside by ever-present knowledge that your mind would be tested the most, but that your body could be called on to do very serious things. These tasks could be life or death, not win or lose. The stakes could be rectal integrity or death, not bragging rights on an internet forum.

You’d have to be strong, you’d have to be quick, and you’d have to have a decent set of lungs on you.

Quite the sound point. You get put into such a high pressure situation, and suddenly you gain great focus. You gain a greater insight into what really matters, and how most of the stuff we deal with in life doesn’t matter.

I know I get caught up in the details. I know I start to worry about all these sorts of minutia all the time. It’s just how I am. But one good lesson I’m learning right now is to just shut up and squat. The Wendler program I’m on right now? I’ve been analyzing too much, thinking about too much. I realized I was thinking way too much about it, and going back to the BBB template works better. Sure I still think about some details, like I am worrying about my knee angle because I’m concerned about the stresses it’s feeling since I don’t care to blow out my knee, but that’s different from just worrying about how good I look in the mirror.

There are situations in life where being an absolute beast could be very beneficial. Whether or not you plan on getting jammed up in the next few months, give some thought to the idea that you have one life and one shot at doing it right. We make decisions in finance and other realms based on long term payoff and relevancy, why not in why we train?

Don’t be the fat, beer bellied guy at the gun show who carries three cocked and locked 1911 .45’s and shit talks the 9mm round who loses his teenage daughter from choking because he didn’t possess basic first aid skills which would be much more likely needed in life than his 24 rounds of 230 grain hardball, or who can’t run to save his four year-old son from the drunk driver barreling down his street.

Get your basics down. Build your body up into that of a beast, a predator’s body, not a butter soft, tasty piece of food chain. It may very well all be in vain, and I hope to God that it is for your sake.

This is why I’m training to be strong. Oh sure I’m working to shed some body fat, but that’s because the fat is mostly useless. It doesn’t add anything useful, it doesn’t help me. I am not working my “chest” today because what’s the point of big pecs and big arms if I can’t do anything useful with them? I want to be strong(er) because that’s useful.

Preparing for the worst is never a bad thing. Be ready for anything. Prepare in the manner that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Oddly, some people think it is a bad thing… or at least, that you’re paranoid or have something to be afraid of. No, it’s just about being prepared because life can and does throw you curve balls, and you’ll never see them coming. It’s why we have insurance. It’s why we have smoke detectors. It’s why we wear seat belts. It’s why some of us choose to prepare ourselves physical and mentally for a confrontation we hope never comes, but we’ll be ready to meet it when it comes.

So when you train, train like you mean it. Focus on what’s really important. Yes, you’ll get caught up in minutia, but always be aware that you can, aware when you do, and willing to step back and refocus when it happens. Reading this article gave me a kick in the pants. Maybe it did for you as well.

I’ve wasted how much of my life?!?

I just learned the Ian Knot.

How much of my life have I wasted tying shoes the “standard” way?

If you don’t know what the Ian Knot is, watch:

Youngest is still struggling with shoelace tying. Understandable because he rarely wears shoes with laces, so far too often when he wears those shoes we don’t have the time to teach him properly. Couple that with the fact that knots are useful, and I’ve been on a kick to get the kiddos to learn a bunch of basic knots (Oldest fights it and refuses to learn… then every time I see him struggling to tie something up, I remind him how much easier things would be if he’d listen to his old man once in a while and learn proper knots). All the basic ones they teach in Boy Scouts: square knot, two half-hitches, taught-line hitch, bowline, sheet bend, clove hitch, etc..

Might as well start with shoelaces.

And yes, while the rest of the household knows how to tie laces the old fashioned way, we’re all going to learn the Ian knot. Well, we’ve mostly got it… doesn’t take long. But mastering it so we can tie it super fast will just take practice.

So what are some other useful knots?

Figure 8 knot is simple, and good to know about as a stopper.

Lark’s Head is another simple one, useful too.

I read about the Trucker’s Knot and think that would be useful to learn. I don’t know it myself.

Of course there’s the basic overhand knot, but you tend to learn that one as you do other knots.

It’s good to learn about the granny knot… just so you can recognize it, since you’ll probably tie it a bunch while learning the square knot.

What are some other essential knots to know?

EDC for Kids updated

I’ve updated my EDC for Kids post with input and feedback I’ve received from folks.

Thanx, y’all!

Fenix E05

Following up on my Every Day Carry for Kids, I decided upon a flashlight for them.

The Fenix E05.

As you can see, the flashlight is very small, not much larger than the AAA battery that powers it.

But let’s back up. It’s important to understand that there are hundreds of models of flashlights on the market. So why pick one over the other? Well for me, right now it’s about context applicability. What’s going to be the best and right flashlight for the need and situation? In this case, the need is for an EDC flashlight that my kids can use. If you go back to my original post on the topic, some considerations include being small, being inexpensive, but also being useful. Looking at all the flashlights out there, the E05 fit MY desired needs the best.

So again you can see, it’s small. It’s intended as a keychain flashlight and certainly fits that bill.

It’s relatively inexpensive. It cost me $20, but since I received some Amazon gift cards for Christmas, it didn’t cost me anything. 🙂  Still, $20 is reasonable in my book for what I’m getting. Sure you can buy really small cheap LED lights for even less money, but I haven’t seen the performance be on par with this. And performance is kinda what matters most.

So on the performance front, some simple stats:

  • 27 max lumens
  • About a 3 hour runtime (I’ve read you can get up to 5 with lithium batteries)
  • Claims a 24 meter throw distance
  • Waterproof and impact resistant, tho of course within reason.

27 lumens out of such a tiny package. Wow! Take a look:

Not the best picture, but hopefully representative. The big feature of this particular light is the lens. It works to cast more of a floodlight than a spotlight. That certainly held true. While of course there’s a more intense beam in the middle, even that is fairly wide. Then beyond that a great deal of light is cast. It really lights up an area. You can see a LOT. That hallway is 7 yards from where I stood to the end wall. I even threw the light around some longer portions of the house and while the beam didn’t make it seem like daylight, it was sure enough to see what’s going on, both in terms of the reach of the light and the spread.

In tight quarters, I didn’t find the light to be difficult to read with either. No intense beam reflecting back into my eyes. Of course, if you hold the light really close to the page, sure it hurts your eyes, but whereas some other lights with more focused beams I can’t even hold the paper away from my eyes and avoid the reflection, here you can easily find a comfortable distance. Another bonus of the construction is the flat base, so you can stand the light upright like a candle to light up a room. There is only the 1 light setting (simple on or off), and it’s activated by twisting the lens/head of the light.

So this performance is the big reason I chose this light over others. For example, I had thought about the Fenix E01. I didn’t think the performance was as good, not bright enough, not wide enough. The battery life of the E01 is far superior, but that’s the trade-off. I figured that my kids could easily change a AAA battery if needed, and even with only “3 hours” of runtime, that should be more than ample for anything they’d need the light for. I think the LD15 would be better in a lot of respects, but it’s also a $40 light. SureFire doesn’t really have any lights that fit this form factor. Streamlight has the MicroStream, but it didn’t quite work for me (from what I could read online).

Maybe I’ve just spoiled my kids on good flashlights, or maybe I just want them to be able to have useful light. A little dinky squeeze light on a keychain that barely casts enough light to find the key hole? What’s the point? I want to be sure my kids can SEE something — especially danger (be it a person, or just that hole in the ground they wouldn’t want to trip on) — well in advance. That means both distance and width of beam, as well as brightness, to see as much as possible. There are always tradeoffs, but I think the Fenix E05 balances things out pretty well.

Every Day Carry for kids

My kids are all old enough to start carrying some things on their person on a regular basis.

I searched around for topics of “every day carry” (EDC) for kids. There’s not a lot out there. So time to brainstorm.

Updated: I’ve received a lot of traffic due to Unc posting this (thanx!). Due to the feedback received, I wanted to update this post from the feedback. Updates will be marked accordingly.

Some criteria.

It can’t be much. Kids forget things. Kids lose things. Plus, kids are small(er). Thus, they cannot haul around as much weight, nor do they have enough pocket real estate. It needs to fit into pockets, because the boys don’t like wearing belts and the girl’s fashion sense either leads to no belts or non-functional-but-decorative belts. Yes yes, change clothing to suit the lifestyle, but let’s first get them more into the lifestyle.

Small. Light. Essential. Quality stuff, but not too expensive to replace because again, kids will forget/lose things. We must accept they are working to build good habits, and in doing so will fail at times. I don’t want the failure to be too costly to recover from.

And note, this is purely stuff to carry on-person. If we started talking about backpacks (e.g. for school), you can start to carry a lot more such as a small first aid kit, a little food, a water purifier, maybe a space blanket. I’m not going there, tho perhaps Daughter could with her purse. Nor is this about full on “bug-out” types of gear. I’m trying to keep this limited to on-person carry: pockets, and perhaps belt. Every day stuff, every day needs. Focused scope.

So with that in mind, here’s what I can think of:

  • Keychain/ring.
    • I’d say to keep this simple, just a split-ring with keys on it. Less space wasted that way, especially if functional stuff gets hung off it. Of course, things like the housekey go on it.
  • Small flashlight.
  • Small knife or multitool.
    • I’d say a multitool, Leatherman. Micra as a baseline. But I’d entertain a Squirt PS4 or one of the Style (Style, Style CS, Style PS) models if that better suited a particular child.
      • Updated: I settled on the Micra. After reviewing all styles with the Kiddos, we all agreed that the Micra would fit their “every day” needs best. YMMV.
    • I don’t really want a pure knife, because it’s not as versatile as having a multitool. And while some of the kiddos have traditional swiss-army-style pocket knives, I don’t like those since the blades typically don’t lock.
    • Note: my kids are homeschooled and so the (home)school policy is you will be proficient with tools, including knives, and yes the School Board and Principal expect you to have on on your person at all times. 🙂 If your child attends school where knives aren’t permitted, well… I found this thing, the “Quirky Switch” that allows you to make a “custom multitool”, however, reviews aren’t that great (no personal experience). I see Leatherman made a “no knife” Fuse (made. Retired on their website, but apparently you can buy it online tho I reckon on a dwindling basis). But I bet no matter what, “zero tolerance” policies will probably get any sort of useful tool taken away by school admins. YMMV.
  • Little bit of cash, like a $20.
    • This is not money to spend, it’s money in case of emergency.
  • Cloth handkerchief.
    • Youngest is prone to nosebleeds during the dry winter, so this grew out of a need for him to have a means to contend with it. But I could see all manner of usefulness for all the children to carry one.
  • Mobile phone.
    • My kids don’t have mobile phones because of lack of need. But certainly this is a useful tool to have. I could consider getting them something like a small GoPhone or other pre-paid phone to get them used to carrying a phone AND to self-impose a limit on what they can do with it. Emergencies-only.
    • Updated: There’s always the argument to have an old, unused, no-plan, but charged phone, since 911 is required to work from any mobile phone. There’s truth in that and it’s better than nothing (tho many old phones are kinda bulky). But consider that all calls a child may need to make may not be to solely 911.
  • Updated: lighter or other fire starter.
    • This was suggested by numerous people, and of course, the ability to carry a fire-starter varies from person to person. If your kids go to public schools, I’m sure there will be zero tolerance for such items. If my kids do this, I’m not sure what would be best tho: lighter, matches, magnesium fire starter? Have to think about this one in terms of what’s right for OUR needs.
  • Updated: timepiece.
    • Wrist watch. Keychain watch/clock. It could even be the mobile phone. Whatever works for you, but some way to tell time.
  • Updated: Paracord bracelet.
    • And knowledge of knots and lashings.
    • This is certainly a useful idea. The difficulty may be in getting the kids to wear it. Either boys may not want a bracelet, or the girl will want something more fashionable. 🙂
  • Updated: compass
    • Knowledge of how you find your way, if you get lost, is certainly useful. Use a compass. Read a map.
    • A counter to this may be modern smartphones, with their GPS functionality.
  • Updated identification
    • Some means for the child to identify themselves and things about themselves, such as perhaps medical conditions.
    • Could also be a means for someone to contact YOU about the child. When my kids were younger, we’d go to SeaWorld and I’d slip my business card into their sock/shoe so if we did get separated they would know to give that card to an adult so I could be contacted.
  • Updated: a weapon?
    • Stun gun? Pepper Spray? Other things? This is an area I’m not going to touch, not in this context. There are too many legal issues, public school issues, and kid-specific issues here that I’m just not going to go there. I’m not saying kids should be defenseless and at the mercy of criminals and predators, but this is one area you’ll have to investigate on your own.

That’s what I came up with.

Of course I know, this is gear discussion. They need to know how to use the gear. How to handle emergency situations. All those good things. Fret not, that’s all here. I am purely interested right now in a “gear for kids” discussion.

What would you add? Remove? Change?

Updated: As you can see, a lot of useful stuff was added.

Realize, this is not a definitive list nor Bible on what to do. You have to do what is right for you and your situation. As well, all of these things? That’s a lot. Can your 8 year old really haul around all those things? Can they remember them all? Not lose them all? Maybe, maybe not; every child is different. You have to pick and choose what’s right for YOU and YOUR child and YOUR situation. This list is mainly here to have some information and discussion on the matter.

Clearing the backlog

I’ve had a bunch of links backing up in my queue, things I wanted to post about. Just going to clear them all in one fell swoop. It’s a smorgasbord.

What’s Behind The Shocking Collapse in Violent Crime” (h/t LowTechCombat)

A look at the most recent FBI crime statistics, and how violent crime is actually dropping in the US — despite what the media portrays. One possible reason they overlook is the growth of firearm ownership and concealed carry by law-abiding citizens.

TxDPS – Winter Storm Preparedness (h/t TxDPS)

A few simple checklists of things to help you prepare for winter storms. Be it supplies worth having in your car, to dealing with the aftermath of a storm, to helping the elderly.

13 things a man should keep in his car” (h/t ArtOfManliness)

Going with the above winter storm lists, here’s 13 more things that are just good to have in your car all year round. I’ll take odds with #3 – MagLite was a great old standby but flashlight technology has evolved. Look at SureFire or Streamlight (or even Fenix); for a car flashlight I would want it to run on CR123A’s, because those batteries can sit around for years and still maintain power. I’d also look for a model that can either be somehow attached to say a hat brim so you can work hands free (need both hands to change a tire) and/or that can be rested on the ground and used like a lantern/candle to again shine light hands-free.

Read the comments for more suggestions. Certainly a lot of what you keep in your car will depends upon your needs, your particular car, where you are in the world, and how and where you’ll be traveling.

Top 10 Secret Features in Mac OS X Lion” (h/t maczter)

I still haven’t upgraded all my machines to Lion, at this point mostly from inertia. But I have upgraded one primary dev machine and am growing to like it. Still, it has some quirks and issues, and this is a nice list of things to help make it a bit more manageable.

Laws over BB gun use could affect your child’s Christmas”  (h/t NRANews)

While BB guns technically aren’t guns, they certainly can do some damage. You should still treat them like firearms, using them responsibly, adhering to all proper gun safety rules, and using them as a great way to introduce kids to firearms in a safe and responsible manner. The respect and responsibility starts here.