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So many types of camo out there

I recently got an email about a new type of camo that is supposed to break up a silhouette better than previous types. It’s by a brand called Hiden. 

This got me going down a rabbit hole about all the various types of camouflage that have been thought of and produced over the years, but I had to stop myself from going too deep because there is a lot! Did you know there is an entire encyclopedia about camouflage? https://camopedia.org/ It shows various colors and patterns used by countries all over the world.

You have the traditional kind 

You have the digital pattern which I imagine was designed and useful in the early 2000’s when digital cameras and scopes were being used by the military and the digital pattern made people blend in with other pixels on screens.

There’s the abstract pattern that looks like a bunch of watercolor spots

The popular leaves and limbs

And this unique one by Sitka

There are tons more, but these are the ones I’ve seen out and about as being common and easily available. 

I know the prepared and many of you discourage camo because it actually does make you stand out as possibly owning guns and being a bigger target versus the gray man blend in with the crowd, but there are also times when some camo might be useful when needing to hide and breaking up a silhouette.

What are people’s thoughts on camo and do you prep with it? What pattern do you use? It will be very dependent on the environment you are in or are planning on being in, each pattern comes in various color schemes, and the above pictures are not good representations of how good they actually are in the real world because these are on a solid white background.

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Study: scientists should research possibility of human extinction from climate change

A study was published on August 1st (Edit: 2022) in a collaboration from researchers from various countries and universities, including the esteemed Oxford and Cambridge. It doesn’t assess the likelihood of human extinction, but instead looks at how much research has been done on this crucial topic. And a popular news broadcaster in the UK even took up the story.The authors conclude that science is sorely lacking. To quote the paper directly: “The closest attempts to directly study or comprehensively address how climate change could lead to human extinction or global catastrophe have come through popular science books”. Not scientific, peer-reviewed research. Pop-sci books.

As far as I can tell, the closest current science actually gets is examining individual risks (e.g: how food production will be affected by rising temperatures) rather than taking them together, let alone looking at how risks might cascade into or exacerbate each other.But I suppose what surprised me the most, and why I’m writing about this, is this. Exisitential risk is actually making the news in a highly-regarded, mainstream news outlet, and is becoming the subject of serious research from respected academic institutions. The fact that Cambridge University actually has a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at all I think shows the beginnings of a step change in attitudes. Naturally, we have a way to go. I laughed out loud at how the news article described the study: “The researchers said that seriously studying the consequences of worst-case scenarios was vital, even though it might scare people.” It would seem that most are (understandably) still of the attitude ‘we shouldn’t talk about scary things because it paralyses people’, but things may be beginning to change.

What do you all think about this? The study is here, and the news article talking about it is here.

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Making jerky without an oven or dehydrator. Is this safe?

I watched a video where a guy slices some lean meat into thin strips

Seasons it with some normal spices

And then laid the strips on baking sheets with just a fan blowing over them. After 24 hours they are perfectly done.

How is this done and is it safe? Is it that the jerky is dried out faster than bacteria can form on it?

If so, this could be a good meat preservation method to do during the summer where you don’t want the additional heat from an oven or dehydrator going. You could also do this during a power outage with a battery powered fan when other methods might be too power intensive.

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First widespread public safety power shutdowns in W. Oregon

Here we sit, waiting for the hot east winds to come shrieking over the Cascade Range, bringing down humidity and increasing the threat of wildfire.  After the disastrous 2020 fire season, public and power authorities are taking no chances.  The PSPS have already begun in some areas, although the wind has yet to materialize.  We are not in a designated PSPS area, but power outages are very common in wind events here (lots and lots of trees!)  So… we are in a good space to weather power outages.  Wildfire evacuation – I could have done better to prepare for that, though I have lots of notes from the 2020 evacuation and know where stuff is.  Our problem is evacuating with two horses, a dog and a cat! 

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that! In the meantime, I’ll spend today codifying all my previous evacuation notes into a quick reference, and following my husband around while he checks out and tests the big generator!

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How to prevent brown sugar from clumping so it can be used in a shaker bottle

ok, so I’m trying to learn what I need to do to dark brown sugar to make it not clump up when I put it in with other ingredients to shaker for a rub. I bought a pourable brown sugar but it sucked. I want to use regular dark brown sugar. What do I do?

@brownsugar

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Making your own solar panel adapter cables

Over the past year, I have built up quite a collection of power stations while doing reviews for The Prepared. An issue I ran into is that the one solar panel I have can only charge one of the three power stations because the plugs are not interchangeable.

Reviews for each power station: Orange ammo can, green Joyzis, blue Xtar and solar panel.

Looking at all the power stations and adapters, I realized they have one thing in common, a car cigarette lighter adapter. I couldn’t find an 8mm (size of the solar panel cable) to cigarette lighter adapter on Amazon or eBay, so I decided to make one.

Note: This type of DIY cable making is very straight forward and hard to mess up for my small use case. While you can make your own cables and adapters for larger setups and different connectors like MC4 or Anderson, make sure you know what you are doing so you don’t fry your system or shock yourself.

Even the parts for this build were difficult to find, with AliExpress being the only place I could get them. I like Aliexpress because things are often a fraction of the price for the same item you would buy from a reseller on Amazon or eBay. The parts are shipped in from China, so they take a while to get here, but these arrived very quickly in less than a month.

 Female car cigarette lighter socket ($1.38) and 8mm female adapter ($3.78).

If you haven’t ever done any electrical work like this before, it’s not that complicated. Pair up the red with red and the black with black wires using electrical tape, or for a stronger connection, solder it together as I did.

I twisted the cables together, applied some solder, then slid some heat shrink tubing over the connections to insulate and protect them.

The finished product worked perfectly and I now can charge all three of my power stations from the one solar panel.

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Reuse wet N95?

I’ve switched up my workout routine in the gym and when I leave my N95 is soaked with my sweat.  If I let it dry for a few days is it safe to use again?

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Is marzipan a good food prep for long-term storage?

This Reddit comment says that “Store-bought marzipan with high sugar content still in the original air-tight packaging is totally fine for up to three years. Unless you live in a hot place room temperature is good, no need for a fridge. The sugar preserves everything (just like jam) and the airtight foil prevents it from drying out.”

Meanwhile, apparently 42g of marzipan has 180 calories (8g fat, 32g carbs, 2g protein). This makes it roughly comparable to peanut butter in terms of calorie density. It obviously has less protein and vitamins, but it seems like a decent source of calcium and fiber compared to peanut butter.

What do you all think?

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How to set up a new axe for first use

Even if you buy a quality axe, it’s very unlikely it will arrive from the factory ready for first use. Here are my tips for preparing the handle and sharpening the blade on a Council Tool Boy’s Axe, a gift from my wife that she found from TP’s best survival axes roundup.

Unlike the cheap axes you tend to find in hardware stores, the Council Tool axe is made in America with quality materials and is well hung. A lot of times, you can pick up an axe in a hardware store and the head is already loose, which is unacceptable. The Council Tool Boy’s Axe is an incredible bargain at well under $100.

Summary:

The handle has a factory varnish finish, which you’ll want to scrape off and replace. After scraping the handle, sand it to get it silky smooth. Oil finishes are usually preferred for tool handles. Raw linseed oil is safer than boiled linseed oil and works great. Apply multiple thin coats of oil on a warm, sunny day. Linseed oil can combust. Lay oil-soaked rags flat when not in use and soak them in water before disposing. Once the handle can’t accept any more oil, sharpen the blade. A Lansky sharpening puck is a convenient sharpening tool for axes. Buy a good sheath to protect the axe blade (and yourself).

More: Want to become a sharpening pro, especially with limited tools? Check out TP’s video lesson.

A boy’s axe is enough for a man

When looking at axes, you may be tempted to pick a big, heavy axe. I also made that mistake. Yes, a heavier axe can more-easily cleave through wood with less applied force, but when you’re using an ax, you’re going to be swinging it. Over and over again. A heavy axe will tire you out quickly while you can swing a lighter axe for much longer. A heavy axe is also harder to pack into the woods unless you’re car camping.

A boy’s axe, with a head weight of about 2.25 pounds and a 28-inch handle, is the best general-purpose axe for most people. It’s just heavy enough to handle most tasks, but light enough to be easy to carry.

You can also manipulate an axe of this size for basic wood shaping (think holding near the head and doing fine-control work). You also want a poll or single-bit axe. A double-bit axe can be handy, but having a cutting edge on both ends of the head adds extra risks. Plus the flat poll is handy for driving in wedges and smashing things in a pinch.

If you become a serious woodsman, you’ll likely assemble a collection of axes. If you split a lot of wood you may want a full-size axe with a duller blade. And hatchets are handy for bugging out, camping, and dispatching roosters. But the boy’s axe is a good starting point.

Preparing the handle

If you have an axe with a factory handle, or the next time you pick one up in a store, feel along the handle. Most axe handles come from the factory covered in a rough varnish. Those spots may not feel rough as sandpaper, but imagine the handle sliding along your palm hundreds of times. You want your handle to be as smooth as possible.

The first step is removing the varnish, which takes only a few minutes. Take a knife (not one of your fancier ones) and scrape it at a 90-degree angle across the handle to scrape off the varnish. You could also use a cabinet scraper if you have one around. Don’t cut into the handle, just scrape the surface.

The finished result should look like bare, pale wood.

Next, smooth the handle with some sandpaper. A lot of people use 250-grit sandpaper for this, but I had finer 800-grit so that’s what I used. Fold the sandpaper on itself like an accordion to make it easier to grip. Then wrap the sandpaper around the handle and lightly move it up and down. You’re not trying to remove a lot of material here, just smoothing out the surface.

You’ll probably find that it’s hard to move the sandpaper up to where the handle wides. So when you finish with the narrower part of the handle, unwrap the sandpaper and lightly sand the wider bits.

Run your fingers along the handle, feeling for any rough spots. Sand them down. When the handle is smooth, wipe the wood dust off with a rag.

Choosing a finish

You can’t use a bare wood handle because moisture will soak into the wood and it will eventually rot. So you need to apply a finish.

Wood finishing is a complex topic and I could go on at length about various pros and cons. For our purposes, there are two types of finish: exterior coatings (varnish) and finishes that soak into the wood (oils).

The problem with exterior coats like varnish is that they only cover the surface of the wood. When they inevitably flake off, it exposes the wood to the elements. They’re tricky to apply correctly, and even trickier to repair — you basically have to strip the wood and apply varnish again.

Many woodsmen like oil finishes, which penetrate and soak the wood to repel water from the inside out. They’re easy to apply and maintaining the finish is as easy as applying more oil. You have to apply the oil more often than you’d have to redo varnish, but the application takes just a minute.

There are two types of oils: drying oils like linseed and tung, and non-drying oils like coconut and tallow. You want a drying oil for tool handles, which will polymerize so that it won’t be slick. If you soak a handle in something like coconut oil, you could be dealing with a greasy handle for a long time.

The often-recommended oil for this is boiled linseed oil (BLO), which is cheap, quick-drying, and makes for a nice finish. The problem is BLO is a misnomer, as the oil isn’t actually boiled. Instead it’s mixed with solvents and heavy metals like lead to speed up drying time. You don’t want that stuff in contact with your hands, which is why I avoided the handles when I treated my scythe snath with BLO and turpentine.

A better choice is raw linseed oil, which allegedly takes a bit longer to dry but is all-natural and non-toxic. However, I found that it dried as quickly as BLO without toxicity concerns.

Properly oiling a tool handle

It takes a long time to get the first layers of linseed oil in a handle. You won’t want to slather on a thick coat all at once, because it will dry into a tacky mess that’s a pain to remove. You want to apply multiple thin coats to let it soak into the wood.

Check the weather forecast and pick a couple of warm, sunny days for this project. The warmer the better, as heat helps the oil penetrate deeper in the wood, and sunlight will help speed up drying.

Pick a spot that gets good sun that has a stump or fence post to drive the blade into. I used a fence post in a sunny spot. Chop into your wood so the axe is firmly in place and won’t fall off. That will give you a safe, stable base to work from.

Pour a little linseed oil onto a clean rag and wipe the handle down with it. Wipe it thoroughly to keep a thin, even coat. And don’t forget both ends of the handle — the end grain is extra absorbent. While you’re at it, wipe down the blade on your first pass to protect the steel from the elements.

Wait 10-15 minutes to let oil soak into the wood and then wipe off the excess with a clean rag. If you’re busy and can’t go out that often, wipe down the initial coat with a clean rag to thin it out a bit more.

Warning: Linseed oil can spontaneously combust when soaked into wadded-up rags. Lay your oily rag flat outside and put a rock on it to keep the wind from blowing it away. When you’re finished with it, soak it in water before throwing it away.

Give it an hour or so, feel the handle to see if the oil has soaked in, and if it has, do the same thing again.

Expect this to take a couple of days. Take the axe inside at night to protect it from the dew.

I applied seven coats total: five on the first day and two on the second. You want to repeat this process until the oil is no longer soaking into the wood.

After a day of applying oil, the finish already looks richer.

You can keep repeating this process over time. Consider oiling it once a week or so until the finish gets dark enough for you. I plan to do a second round of oiling this summer when the temperatures are much warmer and the oil can soak in better.

Sharpening the Council Tool Boy’s axe

The factory edge of the Council Tool Boy’s axe is okay, but not especially sharp. More experienced axemen might want to reprofile the head with a file, but I didn’t feel it was necessary.

There are many tools for sharpening axes. Even a simple bastard file works. But I’m a big fan of the Lansky sharpening puck, which is cheap, easy to transport, and made for axes.

You want some sort of lubrication. Many people put oil on their stones, but I’m not a fan of oil for two reasons: once you oil a stone you have to keep using oil and oil makes a thick layer between the steel and stone, making it cut less effectively. Some recommend kerosene or diesel, but I like plain water and keep a bucket nearby when I’m sharpening. Water is safe and can be found just about everywhere. You can spit on the stone if you need to.

You want a stable sharpening surface. Putting the axe in a vice would be the best, but I wanted to simulate field conditions. I sat down with my stone and bucket and laid the axe across my knees, with the head on one knee, facing away from me.

I dunked the puck in the bucket and then using the fine side of the puck, ran it in a circular motion up and down the blade’s bevel. When that side was done, I’d switch sides (and knees). But that’s an oversimplification.

Sharpening is intimidating when you’re new at it, which is why TP offers a whole course dedicated to it. Part of the learning process is getting a feel for the blade. That starts with carefully running your finger across the blade edge to feel for the “burr,” which is a rough spot in the edge.

You want to work that burr to smooth it out, which then folds the burr over to the other side of the blade. Then you work on that side to smooth the burr out. You keep repeating this process with progressively lighter stone grits and pressures until you end up with both sides of the blade meeting in a sharp, smooth edge.

Don’t run the stone across the entire blade unless you’re planning to reshape it. You want to put the puck on the bevel (the end of the sharp edge of the blade) and angle it so that it “catches” the bevel. That takes some experience. The key is trying to maintain an even angle across the bevel.

After about 30 minutes of light sharpening, I had an edge sharp enough to shave hair off my arm.

I decided to take the axe for a test run. I hacked down a couple of annoying saplings in the edge of the woods near my house, and tested the edge by peeling bark from them.

Once your axe is good and sharp, you want to be careful with the edge, not only to prevent injuries but to avoid damaging the edge. You definitely want some sort of sheath to carry it around in. I like leather because it plays nicely with oil. In the meantime, you can hang it up in a safe place.

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Feeding catfish with an eagle watching

Yesterday evening, while I was headed to the pond to feed my catfish, I noticed both bald eagles sitting out on dead trees in the pond.  Those trees are normally underwater but we haven’t had any heavy rains this summer.  As I got closer to the pond, one eagle flew off but the other hung around for a bit.  I don’t know what it is, but I so love watch eagles.  I likewise enjoy watching the catfish splash around while feeding.

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What to do about a personal data leak or breach – Before and After

This recent news roundup mentioned that the state of California has leaked and mishandled data on thousands of gun owners. This has come up before. Data leaks and breaches always seem frustrating and sad. While I would love to see strict penalties for poor security and mishandling that lead to data leaks and exposure, this also got me thinking – what _can_ we do to prepare for or prevent a personal data leak?

The Prepared site has excellent articles and forum posts on general digital security and preparedness. But what about data breaches specifically? Here are some intro steps from a bit of light research:

What to do before and after a data breach:

Before:

Use encrypted text messages. Install Signal – the most secure, open source, encrypted text messaging app. Keep your data private. You can use Signal for all texts on your phone – it will simply use encryption with anyone else who also has Signal, but still send regular text messages to those who do not. Then you can invite them to improve their texting too. Use a password manager. Don’t store your sensitive information inside emails etc. Don’t give out your Social Security Number (SSN). Or other very sensitive info. This may depend on geography. In North America there are usually only two places that need to know about your SSN: Your employer (so you can get paid), and your bank. That is it. Many other places try to ask and get this information. Tell them no. Often you may find them sheepishly admit the information was “optional”, and they will back down. Sign up your email address at https://haveibeenpwned.com/ . This is an interesting website that monitors data breaches and will email you if it finds that your email address has been included in a data leak. A good way to at least be aware that your information may have been exposed. Get a backup credit card and/or bank account. If you have the ability, having one main credit card but also a backup card can help to ensure you still have a way to operate or pay your bills if your main card is stolen or compromised. Likewise – opening two different bank accounts at different _types_ of institutions with different risk profiles – e.g. one large national bank and one local credit union. Storing some funds in each can help to make sure you still have access to some of your money. Keep some cash on hand. So you can keep operating even if everything goes down. Freeze and set a PIN on your credit file. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will let you set a PIN – like a password – that must be used to unfreeze your credit account. This should prevent or make it more difficult for anyone to take out a loan in your name or otherwise access your credit. If you want to take out a loan or apply for credit yourself, you can simply call them with the PIN to unfreeze, and then re-freeze your account. Get and read your own credit report every six months. This can be a painful process, but the three firms above should let you get a free copy of your own credit report. Emphasis on free: they are not allowed to charge for it. However, they often make this intentionally difficult and confusing by adding many “upgrade” tiers and options, and changing the name to things like “consumer disclosure report” instead. Checking your report e.g. every six months can help you to spot if anyone used or tried to use your credit account. Consider credit- or identity-protection. I am wary of these services and have never tried them. I am not sure how much they actually help in the event anything happens. Would love to hear from anyone who has had good or bad experiences with identity protection.

After:

Call the company or organization and confirm whether your data was included in the breach or leak. Find out what type of data was affected. If your credit card info was leaked, you probably want to call your credit card company to cancel and replace the card. See if the company now offers help, or offers free identity protection after the fact. They may be able to help you get back to normal. Change the password on any accounts that were affected.

What other ideas or actions can you think of?

References

Forum post “Getting Weekly Credit Reports”. Thanks to community member Supersonic for posting. https://www.tomsguide.com/us/data-breach-to-dos,news-18007.html https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-what-to-do-after-a-data-breach.html https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-protect-yourself-after-data-breach https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/small-business/business-data-breach-insurance Read More

September is National Preparedness Month, join us for good conversations and community challenges

September is National Preparedness Month, and to celebrate we are going back to the basics in a rational way while following along with The Prepared’s Emergency preparedness checklist: Prepping for beginners article. WAIT… I already see some of you veterans clicking away, hear me out. We are visiting the basics and making sure we are well rounded and level headed in our prepping. Maybe we have focused too much on our home preps and haven’t spent enough time on our skills or finances, this is an excellent time to reevaluate what you have and bring your entire prepping game to the next level. And if you have never even heard of the word prepping before, now’s a great time to start! At the end of this month, if you have followed along with our guides and participated in the community challenges that we will be releasing, you will see areas of your preps that needed attention and improvement. 

How will it work – 

Every Tuesday and Friday, check out the news roundup by visiting the ‘Blog’ and see what we will be talking about over the next couple days. Then, join us on Discord for friendly conversations about the topic, new prepping tips, and community challenges.

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Best jacket/outer layer for the BOB?

I am looking for advice for a light-weight, space conscious (and hopefully budget conscious) option for my outer layer of clothing in my BOB. Right now I’m using a ridiculously bulky sweater, which is taking up way too much room. I don’t necessarily need this layer to be waterproof as I’m thinking of purchasing a cape/shelter thing for rain. 

Here are my considerations:

I’m a large person. Short, but big around. (and I prefer men’s clothing) I’m in Northern California. Our evenings can definitely get chilly, especially in the winter, but not usually below the mid 40s.  Really cold winters have gotten into the 30s. I get hot easily, although in truth these days my temp regulation is kind of wacky and I can also get cold the next minute. But generally I don’t like to get too hot and don’t tolerate heat very well. I’m on a budget. I don’t have a lot of money. I do put aside about $45/month for prepping and I will save up for a more expensive item, but price matter. I don’t have a lot of space in my BOB — which I guess is true for most of us.

So, any suggestions?-

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If we prep skills, we should also prep to trade them

A post I saw elsewhere got me thinking about this. We talk a lot about acquiring useful skills for a crisis, but if we are really well prepared, we should also prepare to engage in the trade of services (and goods) in a sustained situation. I don’t just mean being available to help others, but actually planning to establish a tradeable service as part of your prep. 

People can’t stay isolated forever, and they will need help from others, not just stuff. Plus–as we know from basic economics–trade improves social relations and amplifies human capital in groups. Some examples that have occurred to me:

– Get the most extensive first aid skills you can, and plan to set up a small minor-injuries clinic; have tons of extra medical supplies and something you can set up into an exam table. 

– Set up a small daycare

– Offer to clean and break down game for others

– Security services

– Psychological support

– Equipment repair

You could trade these for cash, goods, or other services. I think this is important because you can’t possibly acquire every necessary skill. Since most of us are in cities or even rural areas that aren’t super isolated, should this be something we discuss more? When I started thinking about the services I could offer, I started feeling less worried about all the shortfalls in my current preparedness. I’m interested in your thoughts.

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How are you doing? Times are stressful, keep an eye on how you are handling things

How are you doing? No seriously… think about it. Take a moment of reflection of how you are feeling. Put things on scale of 1-10 if that will help you. Think about the various areas of your life, finances, physical fitness, job, family life, hobbies, etc… Are you living balanced or is one area out of wack? It’s important to be in tune with your body and mind, we often get so busy and overwhelmed that the ship might be sinking underneath us (our mental or physical health), but we are so focused on the horizon.

I’ve been struggling lately with everything just being so expensive and there isn’t really any end in sight. It’s making it even harder to save money for the future and my “fun money” for hobbies and recreation is smaller than ever. So I guess my main worry is the economy. 

We are all strangers here, feel free to open up and vent to others here on how you are doing. I’m at least here to listen to you if you need it.

Being prepared brings comfort and reassurance. Guess I just need to prepare more. If I had lots of gas and food stored, I might not be as worried about all the rising costs of everything, 

Looking back on old forum posts I came across this one with some good advice: Philosophies for good mental health

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Turn off your WiFi when you don’t need it, and other tips on how to prevent hacking and tracking

A recent article by Bleeping Computer summed up many of the dangers of leaving your WiFi turned on which many people might not be aware of, and the solution of turning off your WiFi before you leave the house is so simple that I thought it inherited a post of it’s own. Check out the article for the full technical explanation but here is my quick and dirty summary:

By default, most smartphones search for available WiFi networks all the time, and connect to them if trusted. About ¼ of the time, your phone searches for a WiFi signal and broadcasts the name of past networks you have connected to which are then stored in WiFi routers you pass. Passwords to previous connected WiFi networks (like your home or work) were also leaked during this broadcast. Having your phone always broadcasting WiFi probes has tracking implications. Your phone is always being tracked by other radios like your cell connection, but why add one more point of tracking? Many stores already use WiFi and Bluetooth probing to track their customers’ position and movement to see what items and areas they are most interested in. Hackers set up fake hotspots with popular network names, like Starbucks, and your phone may auto connect to it and now the hackers can watch all your internet traffic and intercept things you are doing.

What to do to minimize your attack surface from easiest to hardest.

The thing you should get in a habit of doing is to simply turn off your WiFi when you are leaving your home. Not only will it save battery by not constantly sending out probes for networks, but it will reduce your attack surface quite a bit. Turn off your phone, put it in airplane mode, or put it in a faraday bag when you don’t need it. An easy thing you can do is to remove previously connected to networks that you no longer use like that AirBnB you stayed at last winter. Disable your device’s ability to auto-join a network. That way it won’t connect to some hacker’s fake WiFi broadcast under the same name as one you have previously joined. Update your device’s operating system. Newer versions have better security and can offer settings which help minimize some tracking. Turn on MAC address randomization. This is your device’s address on a network so your router knows to send that data you just requested to you and not your kids on their device. If your MAC address is the same on every network you connect to, it is easier to track you than if you have your device randomize that address for each different network you connect to. If you do need to use WiFi somewhere that is not your home and can’t be 100% trusted, only connect using a VPN. So even if you connect to a rouge hotspot or it is being monitored, your internet traffic is encrypted.

I am glad that I read through this article and then did a self assessment. I usually turn off WiFi when I leave the house, have MAC addresses randomized, and use a VPN. But when I looked at my phone I have collected 9 saved networks that are all set to auto-connect when in range. So these are constantly being sent out and probed for. I was able to delete five of them and turn the remaining four to not auto-connect. It will just involve one more step of clicking on the network name when I get in range and want to connect to it, but hopefully it will cut down on the amount of information I am sending out and not allow my device to automatically connect to networks I pass. I wrote down the deleted network names and passwords in my password manager so I can easily access those if I ever need them without having to ask again for the password.

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Review: Joyzis 300W battery pack. A lightweight powerhouse

The Good:

Where this little unit shines is that it only weighs 4 pounds making it very easy to travel with or move around if you had restrictions on how much you could lift. I loved the recessed handles that can come up for easy carrying, or be stowed down for a flat surface and expose the wireless charging pad on top.

The Joyzis has a battery capacity of 296Wh, which is about 8X as much juice as a portable power bank, plus you get the ability to power smaller wall outlet devices like a laptop or CPAP machine. With this capacity, I was able to power my work laptop and cell phone solely off of this battery pack for 2.5 days. And impressively, it was able to keep a portable fridge powered for two full weekends of camping.

In another review, the Xtar power station for some reason caused the keyboard and mouse to glitch when I connected my work-from-home setup to it. The Joyzis however was able to power all of this (laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and USB hub) flawlessly.

Joyzis offers a one-year warranty with this unit, but you can extend that to two years if you register your product with them. If you want this extended warranty, go to this website or email them at joyzis(at)afterservice.vip. Ignore the service.joyzis(at)outlook.com email address on the sticker on the bottom of the unit, I wasn’t ever able to reach a human when contacting them through this address.

This power station comes with a 60W USB C wall charger which will charge from 0-100% in about 5-6 hours, and a car cigarette charger for topping it off on a road trip.

I was worried when I received this unit that they sent me a European version because the outlet is unlike any that I’ve seen here in the States, but both two prong and three prong US plugs still work in this along with various types that seem to be used in other countries. Pretty neat!

The Bad: 

Over a year ago The Prepared was sent over a sample power station but during our testing, the unit suddenly stopped being able to be charged. We contacted the company and they sent us over a replacement and this review is on that second unit.

Looking through Amazon reviews, a large percentage of people have received their unit, lifted it out of the box, and the entire top pops off and is broken. So there are some quality control issues here. The good thing though is that most of the reviews say that they contacted the company and were instantly sent a new unit. 

A missed feature on the Joyzis is that you cannot charge this unit and power devices off of it at the same time. So if you had it charging by a solar panel during an emergency, you have to wait until it is done if you want to plug things into it. Also, a bummer if you wanted to use this as a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).

Something annoying that I found with the unit is that the buttons stick out quite a bit and the power button is easily clicked on with the slightest touch, making this a poor choice to throw in a bag. All of the other buttons need a three-second hold to activate, I don’t know why the ON button couldn’t have this ability as well. Funny enough you do need to hold that power button for three seconds to turn off the unit.

Instead of using a display like most power stations, which give you valuable information like battery percentage, load, and how much time is left to charge, the Joyzis opted to use four bright LED bars. But this simple display of remaining battery capacity still left me wondering how much each device was draining and if I was close to overloading the unit or not.

The Joyzis does utilize a PWM charge controller that is inferior to MPPT units in higher-end power stations. It gets the job done, but is not as efficient.

Comparing this to other small power stations:

When comparing the Joyzis to the other two power stations I have had my hands on before, the Xtar is nice in that it has recessed buttons that require a three-second hold time to activate, twice the capacity, and can handle surge watts up to 1000, but at twice the cost of the Joyzis.

In a previous post, I made a power station and while it was a fun project, for the same price, the Joyzis has an additional 100Wh of capacity and weighs a fifth of the DIY option. The Joyzis is small enough to fit inside the 50 caliber ammo can that I used for that DIY project, which could be a nice container to store cables and keep it more protected and waterproof. 

I haven’t held the Jackery Explorer 240, but comparing specs, the Joyzis is cheaper and lighter, has more capacity, two additional USB ports, wireless charging, and is a much smaller profile. Jackery however, is a much more trusted company and with the large number of quality control issues that Joyzis seems to have, I would pick Jackery to get me through a disaster over Joyzis.

I would love to try out an EcoFlow product as they are known to be very high quality. The River model is similar to the Joyzis in capacity but has a much more powerful engine under the hood allowing for 600 running watts and 1200 surge through 3 AC outlets compared to Joyzis’s 1. However, that amount of power output and ports is overkill in my opinion for a sub 300Wh capacity power station. It just doesn’t make a ton of sense to run 600 watts of devices through a 288Wh station and only have it last for 20 minutes or so.

Summary:

If you want a lightweight power station to keep phones, tablets, and a laptop topped off during a short power outage or on a camping trip, this is a cheap option that can fulfill those needs. 

The Joyzis BR 300 power station is listed for $280 on Amazon, but there is always a $90-$150 off coupon right under the price tag as long as you click it.

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Hero Joyzis

Skills & tools for kids?

Curious what specific skills kids of various ages should know; to promote preparedness/resilience/confidence/etc, without being ‘scary’. Thanks! 

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Has anyone purchased food storage through Rainy Day Foods?

I have never ordered or heard of RDF, but they have a food I want that is unavailable through the other companies that I usually order from (i.e. Auguson Farms, Emergency Essentials, Ready Hour, Mountain House). If you have purchased food storage from them, I would appreciate your feedback. Thank you

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Perpetual gear finds thread

I often come across cool gear and preps online, so I figured I’d make a thread to drop this stuff in vs. just putting it in the company Slack like I normally do.

I’ll kick it off with these small Knipex CoBolt S compact bolt cutters (71 31 160), which are a newly released variant on a set of cutters I already have in my BoB. I have the XL version of these cutters in my bag, but I’m hearing that the new compact ones are insanely capable for the size and weight. So I’m thinking of picking some up (with the recessed edge).

I tend to really go for the Knipex tools because they’re German made and extremely high quality. I use their pliers in my shop, and have a very compact set of their pliers in my wife’s BoB.

(Also, I’m thinking it may be cool to do a perpetual deals thread where we can post sales on preps that we come across.)

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Low round count drills for measuring your shooting proficiency

Just wanted to post up this page of drills from the guys over at T-Rex arms, these drills are a great way to measure and track your proficiency in different areas without burning much ammo at all. They have a downloadable PDF for every drill that includes the instructions and a scoring chart for determining your hit factor. These are not so much “pass/fail” drills as they are tools to measure your own performance and keep track of your improvement.

All of them require 50 rounds or less, and don’t take very long to run, although they test a wide range of skills during the run and are a very efficient use of training ammo and time. I encourage anyone to give them a try and see how you do, then use those results to help refine what you need to work on and improve for next time.

If you need an area to be able to shoot these drills on, I encourage you to look for WMA ranges or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land near you. Many WMAs have public shooting ranges that are either free to use with a hunting license or have a very small fee. BLM land is even better to shoot on as it’s often less trafficked and can provide more wide open areas to shoot in. As with anything just be smart about when and where you choose to shoot on public land.

T-Rex Drills

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New here – what articles are your favorites?

I’m a new member, I love all the content and commentary… So much good information…wow!  That said, can some fellow members please share favorite/important pages to read first? Thank you! 

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Finding your cardinal direction using a sun, stick, and rock

Feeling stir crazy inside my home, I needed to get out and get some sun. While I was out I noticed a stick on the ground and thought back to something I saw online before about using shadows to figure out North, East, South, and West. So I looked it up online and figured out the general principle and decided to put it to the test.

It’s supposed to be more accurate and quicker to tell directions if you have a 3-4 foot stick but I just used a 10 inch one. I stuck it in the ground so it was straight up and placed a rock at the tip of the shadow.

Waiting 15 minutes I looked again and the shadow moved to the side of the rock.

The rock marked West and the shadow moved to the East. Which makes sense because the sun rises in the East and sets in the West and the shadow will move opposite of this. Once you know West and East, you can figure out North and South as well. I compared it with two compasses that I had and it was accurate.

Not the fastest method of rough navigation, but if you were lost while hiking the 15 minutes it takes for the shadow to move is a good time to rest and think through what to do.

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Start

How to prepare to leave the U.S?

I think it’s safe to say that the U.S is approaching some sort of inflection point. I’d rather not be around for that. And even if it doesn’t devolve into lawlessness, I don’t feel as confident that I’ll be able to shield my LGBTQ family members from discrimination. 

I’m also not really sure how I would get things in place so that I could take my family and leave. Canada is the most likely place. This isn’t really a “bug-out” scenario where I need to grab my Level 3 bag and leave suddenly. I’m thinking of this as a “5-year” plan scenario. 

How would I got about learning how this might work?  Has anyone here made this move? What did you have to do?

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Growing amaranth– Lodging

As I’ve stated here and other forums before, I think amaranth is the best overall survival crop.  First of all, in some varieties, it is a naturally occurring weed.  Farmers fight this weed as it reproduces so quick & is exceptionally hardy.  In some areas, it is becoming resistant even to Roundup.  It needs little water, no fertilizer & comes back if you cut it down.  It is EXACTLY these traits that make it, and especially the commercial varieties, such a valuable survival crop.

I’m not going to go into great detail about amaranth, as I have discussed it in prior discussions. Just let it be known, the whole plant is edible.  Young leaves & stems make a great, nutritious salad.  Older leaves can be cooked like collard greens.  The seeds are likewise exceptionally nutritious and can be ground into flour.  What I do want to discuss is that the taller varieties seem to have a tendency toward lodging which is the displacement of stems or roots from their vertical and proper placement.  After strong, windy storms, which we have had several lately, most of my small test plot of Copperhead amaranth is now knocked over.  Just one plant is still standing.  For lots of grain type crops, such as corn, this lodging could cause you to lose your crop.  But amaranth, being the weed it is, just keeps on growing.  Even when the stalks are knocked flat to the ground, the plants reorient their growth, and keep on growing.  In the pics below, you can see they are just now beginning to set their lovely, nutritious seeds.

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amaranth 1