Discussions

Cold steel ‘Bushman’ knife. I had just started prepping, and I thought how versatile it was that the knife had a hollow handle and could be made into a spear. Previously, I’d only used cooking knives. As I gradually learned a bit more about ‘woodsy’ skills, and practiced a little (I’m still not very good), I found that the Bushman knife was wildly impractical; too heavy, weighted weirdly, hard to store (I made a sheath, it kept cutting it’s way out of it because of the curve). Now I keep a couple of Mora knives around instead; they have rubberized grip and don’t slide out of your hands, the shape of the handle keeps your hand from sliding up over the blade, they are light and well-balanced, easy to sharpen, and come with a great, lightweight, durable, well-fitted plastic sheath.  The other one that comes to mind was also a knife. I had read how great the British hacking knife (used in construction) was because it has a soft spine and can be safety used to baton, wood, also hefty enough to serve as a sort of a hatchet. Well, I practiced with it, removing invasive vines and brush, and I almost cut my thumb off! Admittedly, I was chopping too close to my other hand, but with a chopper that small, I had to do so in order to get any force. After that scare, walking home blood dripping from the gash in my thumbnail, I later tested the other thing it was ‘great’ at and found that the spine was so soft it deformed if you used it to baton wood. I recycled that POS and bought a few folding saws until I found one that fit my hands nicely (Bahco Laplander). Not totally satisfied with that one, but even if you’re exhausted and getting sloppy, it’s hard to hurt yourself more than a minor cut. And, with a 7″ blade, if you’re patient enough and have the grip strength, you can cut though 6.5″ branches!

For some reason, it’s very difficult to find newer information on American per-capita carbon footprint than circa 2010. That being said, I think the (unfortunately stale) data backs me up: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/cooler-smarter-geek-out-data https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/news/when-it-comes-carbon-footprints-location-and-lifestyle-matter If you take a look at the Union of Concerned Scientists article, of the 28% chunk of per-capita emissions they call ‘transportation’, it’s 92% car, 8% plane. If you add up driving and home energy use, you’re already at almost 60% of total per-capita emissions. Drastically reduce both of those things and you’ve cut your personal emissions by about half. On the other hand, even if you stopped flying entirely, that’s a rounding error, unless you are an extreme outlier who takes hundreds of flights per year for work or something.  Of course, in practice, we should do everything we can to reduce our emissions on all fronts, but start with the low-hanging fruit. I will also admit that I’m getting pretty frustrated with people who buy recycled paper towels and shut the taps off when they brush their teeth, then dust off their hands and say ‘well, I’m doing my part’, while ignoring the elephants in the room.  I agree that in the long run our lifestyles will have to radically change, but if we can at least make a good start now, it may help us change in a more smooth and gradual way rather that the sudden sharp stops we survivalists worry about. 

For most middle class Americans, the following are the three largest and most impactful ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint: 1. Get solar for your house: This basically knocks out your carbon footprint from personal electricity use. Yes, I know there is an energy cost to solar panels ect, but switching to all-renewable power eliminates the large majority of emissions from your electricity use. Note that it’s often better to set up solar in your yard or build a solar carport etc. vs. putting the panels over your roof where they are harder to access for maintenance and have to be moved when you repair your roof. If you are in one of the very few parts of the country with insufficient insolation for practical solar power (Alaska?) consider small-scale wind or hydro. If you add a battery system to your solar, you also got a fantastic prep for grid outages.  2. Get an electric car: Many people don’t realize how much of their energy budget (and carbon footprint) goes to moving a several thousand pound metal box 30+ miles a day. Even if you plug your car into the grid, it will still be lower emissions than a gas car. Combine it with your solar system and it’s entirely renewably powered. Again, this is a great prep since you can keep driving even if there’s no gas and/or the grid is down. 3. Don’t have kids: Yup, I just grabbed the third rail of environmentalism. There’s no denying the math though; our civilization’s footprint is the per-capita footprint times the number of people. Fewer, people means less impact. So, in addition to reducing the per-capita footprint, we need to think about reducing the number of people. Instead of bringing more kids into an overpopulated world, consider fostering, adopting, or just helping your (harried, overloaded, trying to balance kids and a career) friends and relatives take care of theirs. If you really must have your own biological children, have one instead of two or three.  Other actions like recycling, eating less meat, re-using containers etc. are good, but they have a much smaller impact. For a typical middle-class American, solar plus an electric car can cut your carbon footprint by something like half, without effecting your lifestyle much. Do those other things if you can, but they’re not primary.  If you can’t afford home solar and an electric car, you can get almost as much impact while saving money; live in a small apartment/condo (which will use something like 1/5 as much electricity as a single family home), and use a bike/ebike/electric scooter instead of a car. 

So I don’t have much room to talk, as my BOB is almost 40 lbs. But if I were you, I’d cut the paratinder. That’s an object that’s trying to be two different things, and probably isn’t very good at either. You could also probably cut some weight by replacing cotton shirt etc. with lightweight hiking type clothes that are just as warm or warmer. Echoing what others have said, I would also definitely cut out the book and replace the tarp with a  lighter, stronger nylon one. Between all those things, you could probably save 3 or 4 lbs, which would be enough for a warm sleeping bag to put under your tarp at night (do you need a tent if you have a tarp?).  If possible, I highly suggest taking your gear camping to get some real-world testing. Also, take it on a road trip (after Covid is done), since you would likely be bugging out to a hotel or stay with family etc. That may reveal that some gear is much less useful/necessary than you thought.  Two other suggestions: 1. De-prioritize some items in advance. I know if I have to go a long ways on foot with my bag, I will drop about 3 lbs of tools and other gear right off the bat. If you bag is very well organized, it not only makes it easy to find things to use, it makes it easy to find the irrelevant items for this particular situation and get rid of them. 2. A bugout that involves having to hike the AT for 300 miles is pretty unlikely. So don’t beat yourself up too much about how heavy your bag is. 

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Cold steel ‘Bushman’ knife. I had just started prepping, and I thought how versatile it was that the knife had a hollow handle and could be made into a spear. Previously, I’d only used cooking knives. As I gradually learned a bit more about ‘woodsy’ skills, and practiced a little (I’m still not very good), I found that the Bushman knife was wildly impractical; too heavy, weighted weirdly, hard to store (I made a sheath, it kept cutting it’s way out of it because of the curve). Now I keep a couple of Mora knives around instead; they have rubberized grip and don’t slide out of your hands, the shape of the handle keeps your hand from sliding up over the blade, they are light and well-balanced, easy to sharpen, and come with a great, lightweight, durable, well-fitted plastic sheath.  The other one that comes to mind was also a knife. I had read how great the British hacking knife (used in construction) was because it has a soft spine and can be safety used to baton, wood, also hefty enough to serve as a sort of a hatchet. Well, I practiced with it, removing invasive vines and brush, and I almost cut my thumb off! Admittedly, I was chopping too close to my other hand, but with a chopper that small, I had to do so in order to get any force. After that scare, walking home blood dripping from the gash in my thumbnail, I later tested the other thing it was ‘great’ at and found that the spine was so soft it deformed if you used it to baton wood. I recycled that POS and bought a few folding saws until I found one that fit my hands nicely (Bahco Laplander). Not totally satisfied with that one, but even if you’re exhausted and getting sloppy, it’s hard to hurt yourself more than a minor cut. And, with a 7″ blade, if you’re patient enough and have the grip strength, you can cut though 6.5″ branches!

For some reason, it’s very difficult to find newer information on American per-capita carbon footprint than circa 2010. That being said, I think the (unfortunately stale) data backs me up: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/cooler-smarter-geek-out-data https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/news/when-it-comes-carbon-footprints-location-and-lifestyle-matter If you take a look at the Union of Concerned Scientists article, of the 28% chunk of per-capita emissions they call ‘transportation’, it’s 92% car, 8% plane. If you add up driving and home energy use, you’re already at almost 60% of total per-capita emissions. Drastically reduce both of those things and you’ve cut your personal emissions by about half. On the other hand, even if you stopped flying entirely, that’s a rounding error, unless you are an extreme outlier who takes hundreds of flights per year for work or something.  Of course, in practice, we should do everything we can to reduce our emissions on all fronts, but start with the low-hanging fruit. I will also admit that I’m getting pretty frustrated with people who buy recycled paper towels and shut the taps off when they brush their teeth, then dust off their hands and say ‘well, I’m doing my part’, while ignoring the elephants in the room.  I agree that in the long run our lifestyles will have to radically change, but if we can at least make a good start now, it may help us change in a more smooth and gradual way rather that the sudden sharp stops we survivalists worry about. 

For most middle class Americans, the following are the three largest and most impactful ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint: 1. Get solar for your house: This basically knocks out your carbon footprint from personal electricity use. Yes, I know there is an energy cost to solar panels ect, but switching to all-renewable power eliminates the large majority of emissions from your electricity use. Note that it’s often better to set up solar in your yard or build a solar carport etc. vs. putting the panels over your roof where they are harder to access for maintenance and have to be moved when you repair your roof. If you are in one of the very few parts of the country with insufficient insolation for practical solar power (Alaska?) consider small-scale wind or hydro. If you add a battery system to your solar, you also got a fantastic prep for grid outages.  2. Get an electric car: Many people don’t realize how much of their energy budget (and carbon footprint) goes to moving a several thousand pound metal box 30+ miles a day. Even if you plug your car into the grid, it will still be lower emissions than a gas car. Combine it with your solar system and it’s entirely renewably powered. Again, this is a great prep since you can keep driving even if there’s no gas and/or the grid is down. 3. Don’t have kids: Yup, I just grabbed the third rail of environmentalism. There’s no denying the math though; our civilization’s footprint is the per-capita footprint times the number of people. Fewer, people means less impact. So, in addition to reducing the per-capita footprint, we need to think about reducing the number of people. Instead of bringing more kids into an overpopulated world, consider fostering, adopting, or just helping your (harried, overloaded, trying to balance kids and a career) friends and relatives take care of theirs. If you really must have your own biological children, have one instead of two or three.  Other actions like recycling, eating less meat, re-using containers etc. are good, but they have a much smaller impact. For a typical middle-class American, solar plus an electric car can cut your carbon footprint by something like half, without effecting your lifestyle much. Do those other things if you can, but they’re not primary.  If you can’t afford home solar and an electric car, you can get almost as much impact while saving money; live in a small apartment/condo (which will use something like 1/5 as much electricity as a single family home), and use a bike/ebike/electric scooter instead of a car. 

So I don’t have much room to talk, as my BOB is almost 40 lbs. But if I were you, I’d cut the paratinder. That’s an object that’s trying to be two different things, and probably isn’t very good at either. You could also probably cut some weight by replacing cotton shirt etc. with lightweight hiking type clothes that are just as warm or warmer. Echoing what others have said, I would also definitely cut out the book and replace the tarp with a  lighter, stronger nylon one. Between all those things, you could probably save 3 or 4 lbs, which would be enough for a warm sleeping bag to put under your tarp at night (do you need a tent if you have a tarp?).  If possible, I highly suggest taking your gear camping to get some real-world testing. Also, take it on a road trip (after Covid is done), since you would likely be bugging out to a hotel or stay with family etc. That may reveal that some gear is much less useful/necessary than you thought.  Two other suggestions: 1. De-prioritize some items in advance. I know if I have to go a long ways on foot with my bag, I will drop about 3 lbs of tools and other gear right off the bat. If you bag is very well organized, it not only makes it easy to find things to use, it makes it easy to find the irrelevant items for this particular situation and get rid of them. 2. A bugout that involves having to hike the AT for 300 miles is pretty unlikely. So don’t beat yourself up too much about how heavy your bag is. 


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