One of my biggest gripes about portable solar gear is if the panel is small and light, it charges slow. If it’s of substantial size to charge at a decent pace, then it’s big and heavy. I’ve used the Anker solar setup for several years and it’s worked well but it’s around 2 lbs.
Remember: Pounds = Pain
So for my EDC (Every Day Carry) to work and for my short 1-3 night backpacking trips, I’ve moved toward this Anker rechargeable battery bank. It charges in a USB port so you can charge it at home or in the vehicle. It will charge my iPhone about seven times.
Your phone is a primary tool in preparedness. Even if you’re comfortable disconnected from the world, it’s comforting to be able to check on your family and make sure they’re safe.
These run about $40 on Amazon and they’re a little over 12 oz, less than half of the solar panel.
Just wanted to give you guys an update on what’s happening since I’ve not posted to the blog in a while. First off, LOCKER NINE is rocking. The book is doing well and I appreciate everyone whose read it. For those that have asked, and there’ve been several of you, there will be another book in that series, probably coming in the winter 2017.
The reason for that delay is that I’m currently working on the next BORROWED WORLD book. It’s called NO TIME FOR MOURNING, suggested by an old friend and one of my beta readers. It will bring back many of the characters that you guys love. As I write it, this story is telling itself and that makes me think it’s going to be a good one. I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Also, I’d like to mention that I hear from folks nearly every day wanting a movie or series made of the books. That’s beyond my control BUT if you know someone in the business, drop a hint. I’d love to see the books made into a series for Netflix or Showtime or another venue where someone could do it justice. Keep your fingers crossed that something will break loose on that front.
Finally, I’ve got paperbacks on hand ALL THE TIME. For those of you who have mentioned that you want signed copies, there’s no need to order them from Amazon and then ship them to me. You can send me a message and we’ll work out payment arrangements, then I can ship a signed book directly to you.
Over the winter I received an email from legendary gun writer Mike Venturino who had read my books and really enjoyed them. He mentioned several times in our correspondence that he’d love to do an article on the books if he ever had the opportunity. The opportunity came recently and he sent me a message to check out the September issue of GUNS magazine, which had just gone on sale.
At lunch, I went to my nearest magazine vendor — a grocery store — and there was a two page column on the books. It was a fantastic review with several pictures, including one of me shooting my friend Steve Bird’s sweet VZ58 rifle.
As of this writing, the article is available free online at their website.
While I was at Heritage Life Skills in Waynesville, NC, a few weeks back I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Hunt of Practical Preppers. Scott is known to his legion of Youtube fans as Engineer775. He did a short interview with me early one morning before things got rolling. He was a great guy and I look forward to talking with him more in the future. You can watch the interview below.
Just spent a great weekend in Western North Carolina at the Heritage Life Skills event put on by Carolina Readiness. This was their fifth event and I had a blast. Sold lots of books, met lots of folks, and had a lot of great after-hours conversations with the people that stuck around for the entire weekend.
I was set up at a vendor booth with my friend Chris Weatherman, otherwise known as Angery American, author of the fantastic Going Home series. Chris and I signed lots of books and had a lot of time to sit and BS about everything from kids to guns to prepping and everything in between. He’s a great guy I can’t thank him enough for recommending my books to all the folks that came up and said they’d read all of his already.
Chris and I also taught a class together on Friday and on Saturday we were the opening speakers at the night’s event. It was a sort of a panel discussion with Chris and I being joined by Alan Kay, winner of the first season of ALONE. Although Alan and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, I can tell you that people raved about his classes and workshops. If you ever get the opportunity to participate in a training offered by Alan, whether it’s on foraging, bug out bags, or personal defense, you should grab that opportunity.
I also got to meet Survivor Jane, well known in the preparedness community for her books, lectures, and her Prepper Camp event that she hosts in the fall. We had a good opportunity to spend the morning talking and I really enjoyed meeting her.
My buddy Steve Bird showed up on Sunday. Steve and I always have a great time hanging out together. He is on his second series of post-apocalyptic fiction now and you can find those on Amazon. I’ve read through the first series and really enjoyed it. In the picture, I’m not really depressed or anything but I was chewing gum and the camera caught me mid-chew. The bearded guy on the right is Angery American.
I’ll be posting more on this later, but I also had the opportunity to meet one of my own preparedness heroes Dr. Joe Alton, otherwise known as Dr. Bones. He did an interview with the Steve, Chris, and myself for his podcast. I also told him that he had a mention in Legion of Despair during a scene when someone is stitching someone up and stated that they learned that skill in Dr. Bones’ suture class. Sure enough, Dr. Bones was conducting suture classes at HLS, too.
On the last morning, I also got the opportunity to meet Scott Hunt of Practical Preppers, known as Engineer775 to his Youtube following. Scott did a short video interview with me which he’s already released and I’ll get a link up to that soon.
There were so many cool and interesting people that it’s hard to list them all, but I wanted to thank Jan and Bill Sterrett at Carolina Readiness for the invitation and hospitality; my camping buddies James Ashton (NCPREPPER on Youtube) and instructor Kerry “Gabby” Alzner for the entertaining evening conversation and storytelling; and my entertaining vendor neighbors Ken and Jen Elswick and #mountainfabulous realtor Stephanie Johnson.
Great people, great event, and I look forward to going back next year.
Book Three in The Borrowed World Series, Legion of Despair, is now available for pre-order. If you pre-order the book, it shows up automatically on your Kindle on the day of release.
The release date is scheduled for April 8th. I wanted to get it out in March, but Amazon needs the finished file 10 days prior to release and I just can’t guarantee it will be ready any sooner. Even with the manuscript completed, there’s a lot of steps between here and there.
Hopefully by pushing the release back into April, that will give me enough time to get the paperback and audiobook completed so that we can have a simultaneous release in all formats.
I look forward to your comments and hope you enjoy the book.
Still tweaking the manuscript but we’re closing in on that final edit. Still looking like we’re on schedule for a March release. The folks at Deranged Doctor Design have done all my covers and are absolutely STELLAR to work with. Always on time, always receptive, reasonably priced, and most importantly they are nice people.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished Book Three of The Borrowed World Series. I hope to have it edited this month and available toward the end of March.
This series is followed by a diverse group and they all enjoy different aspects of the books. I hope there’s something here that appeals to everyone who liked the last two books.
I don’t want to reveal a lot, but I will say that this book picks up on Gary’s story and Alice’s story, which a lot of you have asked about. Jim’s family is not left out, though, and there’s plenty of drama still going on in his valley. There’s also a lot of the gritty, the terrifying, and the slightly disturbing elements that I enjoy writing.
As soon as we have a cover, I’ll share that and the title with you.
In my book ASHES OF THE UNSPEAKABLE, a lightstick saves the day in a creative manner. They are useful prepper gear for the Bug Out Bag, the Get Home Bag, or even for your vehicle.
As I write this, I am thinking of a story I heard on the news this morning. Snow caused a twelve-hour, thirty-five mile long backup on a Kentucky interstate yesterday. If you’re stuck on the highway for twelve hours, especially with kids, a light in the car can make a lot of difference. Running the engine for twelve hours eats up a lot of fuel. Most flashlights aren’t going to run twelve hours, either. A twelve-hour lightstick in your car kit could be helpful.
Picture the following:
You lose your primary flashlight and have no backup
the cold weather zaps the batteries in your primary light and you have no backup
you need light but you don’t want to destroy your night vision
you need to mark a turn in the trail at night for other members of your party
you need to mark a distance for tactical purposes
the lights go out and you need a safe nightlight for the kids
you have a night vision device and need a way to distinguish the good guys from the bad
All of these are scenarios where you can put chemical lightsticks to use. They come in a variety of colors. You can get white or yellow for providing good, usable light. You can get red for preserving your night vision.
You can even get infrared IR lightsticks that produce light that is only visible to folks wearing nightvision. This system is frequently used by military forces to distinguish the good guys from the bad in darkness. The IR stick produces no visible light, but glows when viewed by a NVD.
Lightsticks are cheap, they don’t take up much room, and they don’t weigh much. I’d encourage you to get a couple for your various gear bags. You can buy them on Amazon in bulk to save money and find better variety.
In my books, my lead character carried a canister stove in his pack. It’s a stove he’s familiar with through backpacking. The reason I selected that particular stove is that I am familiar with it through backpacking, too, and it has served me well over the years. That stove is the MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s a hugely popular backpacking stove that uses readily-available canisters of a propane/butane mix. The stove runs $39.95 on Amazon, which is exactly what it cost when I bought mine around 8 years ago. The stove weighs around 3 ounces and comes in a plastic case. It doesn’t have an igniter so you have to use a lighter or some spark source to light it. It boils a liter of water in around 3 1/2 minutes.
Three arms fold in to make the stove compact for storage, then fold out to rest a pot on. I’ve never dumped my dinner yet, but I’ve seen it done so you want to make sure that you have a stable cooking base before you start. If the wind gives you trouble, making the stove lose heat, you can make a screen out of aluminum foil to shield the flame.
One complaint about the stoves is that they do not function as well in extended sub-freezing conditions. Notice I say “extended” — I have used mine many times on camping trips with overnight temps in the teens or for making coffee on a snowy hike. It does work in cold temps, but extended trips in below freezing temps may cause you some issues so be aware of that. Use of the MSR brand of fuel rather than other brands such as Coleman or Primus is supposed to alleviate this problem somewhat, as MSR has developed a mix that reportedly performs better in those temps. If you’re likely to be facing those extreme, arctic-type conditions, though, you may want to look at a liquid fuel stove instead of a canister stove.
What if you don’t want to tie up $40 on a stove that’s going to sit in your BOB and not be used all that often?
One option is a Chinese knock-off canister stove, also available on Amazon. I’ll include links to both stoves at the end of this article. My son got me this stove a couple of years ago as a backup. It cost less than $10. There are several on Amazon and they’re all in that $15 and under range. It’s made a little differently, but it includes a piezo igniter which works really well and it’s in the same weight range of around 3 oz. For the price, it works like a charm. I’ve included some pics to show the size relative to the MSR, which comes in a red case.
You can pick up cans of fuel everywhere from camping stores to Walmart to Dicks Sporting Goods. Price vary but generally around $5-6 or less. MRS also has smaller cans available. The thing I like about those is that I can fit a can of fuel AND a stove inside my cooking pot. The cooking pot came with a selection of smaller pots, cups, and bowls but in a BOB I leave those out for weight savings and just use the big pot. The particular pot that’s shows is from a GSI Halulite Dualist cook set. I’ll also include a link to that if you’re interested in checking it out, although an aluminum Coleman backpacking set will serve the purpose for cheaper.
If you have any questions, drop me an email. I don’t claim to be an expert but I do have some experience that I’m willing to share. Bug Out and Get Home Bags have to be individualized to your own needs, based on where you’re likely to be going, how many days you’ll be on the road, and the conditions you expect to encounter. The important thing is that if you don’t have one, you start building one.