Showing posts with label Hillpeoplegear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hillpeoplegear. Show all posts

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Importance of Inspecting Bags

These days my Rucksack just stays packed. We do not go to the field every other week or something but I use it for road marching once a week and just like to keep it ready to go. At this stage in my career I have accumulated enough spare socks/ t shirts/ etc that the ones in my ruck can just stay there. For the latest round of field time I almost just grabbed my ruck and took off. Decided it would be a good idea to look in it and I am glad I did.

I was missing a couple key things:

For whatever reason I didn't have a sleeping bag or a woobie or anything like that. Granted this is Louisiana in the dog days of summer so the gore tex bivy could have worked and just sleeping in my clothes would have kept me alive but some sort of insulation makes for a comfortable sleep. I put in my HPG Mountain Serape.

Also for reasons that escape me I have one pair of socks in my bag and they were mid weight and made of wool. When I took out the rest of the winter module I must have missed them. While wool can be worn in any season all but the lightest garments are punishing in this heat. I kept that pair of socks and added 3 lighter pair.

There was a bottle of anti inflamatory pain killers in my ruck. The gel tablets had melted together into a big ball. So those need to be replaced with non gel tablets. 

Those additions made my ruck pass a quick initial inspection.

During the field problem I identified the lack of a medical kit in my ruck as an issue. Granted there is one in my level 2.5 get home bag but that was not with me. Need to add at least a basic boo boo kit. Those supplies can back fill stuff in my level 2.5 GHB when they are used together. Picked up the stuff for a boo boo kit today.

The point is not to assume. For systems you use semi regularly you really need to inspect them /at some interval, and before every major use.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reader Questions on the HPG Serape

Hello, I stumbled across your review while doing some research and I had a couple of questions for you. First, let me say it was a great review. I was wondering if you knew what size the serape could be compressed to if I wanted to stuff into a sack or bag?  Also, you said the serape didn't zip up all the way when used as a sleeping bag.  Do you think it would be possible to attach another zipper (or maybe even velcro) so the serape would close all the way?

1) size the serape could be compressed to if I wanted to stuff into a sack or bag?
 I'd say slightly smaller than a 2 liter soda bottle. If forced to be more specific I'd guess about 1.75 liter but lets say two to have some safe room.
2) Do you think it would be possible to attach another zipper (or maybe even velcro) so the serape would close all the way?

The zipper arrangement on the Serapa for the 'sleeping bag mode'  comes about 40% of the way up the bag. For me it comes to about crotch level. It is a bit unorthodox but they use the one zipper for this and the 'greatcoat' mode so I am sure there is a balancing act there. The zipped foot box keeps you in the sleeping bag and the dimensions are generous enough to avoid the 'on the edge of the blanket so there is a gap' affect. I just sort of wrapped up in the top part like a burrito. For me it worked fine. The arrangement wouldn't work for an expedition weight bag designed for -20 temps but given that it is a fairly lightweight sleeping bag designed for light 3 season (probably 2.5 season to clip off the very early spring and latest part of fall) it worked fine.

Coming back to the question, while I do not see the need, if you are handy with a sewing machine one could certainly add a zipper. It would have to be one of the ones that come apart like on the front of a coat. Also that would mean there was a zipper on all but one side which could make for less than optimally comfortable blanket use. A couple pieces of velcro could have basically the same effect and be easier to put on. Either way you could certainly do this if you want. I'd recommend trying it as is for awhile before adding anything, those guys really test their products and you might find that while unorthodox it works for the intended use.

Hope that answers your questions

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hill People Gear Mountain Serape Initial Impressions

Soon after purchasing it I did a post of other peoples impressions on the HPG Serape including an excellent review by Alexander Wolfe over at TEOTWAWKI Blog. Since then it has been long enough for me to formulate some of my own impressions on the HPG Mountain Serape.

The general pattern for the Hill People Gear Mountain Serape is a very traditional one. Basically you are talking about a big blanket which may or may not have a hood attached. They exist in Mexico and South America by the name of the Serape and as various types of Cloaks in Europe. They were made with various materials which culminated (for practical and historical reasons) in wool. Wool is a great fabric. The downside is that it is both bulky and heavy.

The HPG Mountain Serape takes this traditional design into the modern era by using lighter modern materials. This alone leaves a pretty handy piece of gear that is small and light enough to find its way into a lot of kits but the addition of a couple cool features add significantly to its versatility.

The Serape can be used in 4 modes:
Sleeping Bag-

[I included pics of the different modes. Please ignore the random clutter around the edges of the pictures. Also some pics are sideways and I am just too lazy to save them to the desktop, flip, resave and try again. Often blogger refuses to recognize the 45 degree rotation so I have to do it 2-3 times. Anyway....]

The Serape has been available in a few colors but they seem to have settled into Ranger Green and Multicam. Prices are in the $175-195 range, given that HPG treats you honest on shipping it'll cost a bit over $180 for Green and $200 for Multicam. More on pricing as well as the modes later. Now that the basic data is out we can get to the usual good, bad and ugly format. In the good I will talk about the modes so some elements of bad may intermingle.  You can get a lot more specific details in the dedicated Serape thread on the HPG Forum.

The Good-
Versatility. Again revisiting the modes with my notes on them.
Poncho- You can wear it this way for warmth. It is a good casual sitting around the campfire or outside at night piece of clothing. Making your clothing work when the temp drops 20 degrees as night falls is an excellent use for the Serape. It's openness makes the poncho less warm than it could be and can be cumbersome for some tasks but for just hanging out it is great.

I have also heard good things about it being water repellent. In the more recent models (they call them generations) the insulation is quilted to the back shell but not the front in order to let the materials inherent water repellent nature not be impeded by quilting. I have not tested this. Honestly I am fairly ambivalent about it for two reasons 1) Ponchos are a lot smaller and 2) I do not like using a core piece of my insulation gear in a way that can compromise it. Better to use rain gear as rain gear in my opinion.

Poncho Mode

Greatcoat- This is the first feature where the Serape is pretty cool. The zipper for the sleeping bag can be used to turn the poncho into a 'greatcoat'. The HPG folks did a youtube video on it. This maximizes the warmth potential of the Serape by keeping the fabric closer to the body, though still giving ample room for different body types, additional clothing underneath and the like.

I have not had great luck with this so far but that could very realistically be my issue as I have not used it much.  In time I will play more with this and get back to you.

There is another handy feature that aids in this. A simple set of clips to bring the waist of the coat in around you. This gives most of the benefits of the greatcoat mode by keeping the fabric close to you for warmth but to me it is a lot less awkward. The clip is a little bit flimsy, if you plan to use it frequently I can see upgrading to something beefier like a Grimlock or a tiny D ring.

Greatcoat Mode using the clip which is my preferred method.

I do not think this coat would be perfect for a week in the snow or other heavy coat use situations. On the other hand if you want something for cold mornings in a tree stand, night by the fire or surprising cold snap it is a good choice. The versatility of the Serape means it can be part of your sleeping system and when needed get pressed into being a pretty warm piece of clothing.

Blanket-  Not much to say here. At the core the Serape is a big ole soft nylon blanket. It is very comfortable for sleeping or general longing around.

Sleeping Bag- This is the second place (and bigger one) where the Serape is pretty cool. The same zipper that makes the greatcoat into a coat  makes a 'foot box' for the sleeping bag. Basically if you fold the serape in half long ways (hotdog style) the zipper encloses the bottom and comes partway up the side (about a third I think).

In terms of sleeping this is a lot more useful than a blanket but doesn't quite get it done the same as a full zipper. However within the temperature range where the bag works as a stand alone it isn't really a big issue. Also the bag is generously sized at 33x88. For folks who have been using mummy type bags it is a generally sized breath of fresh air.
The sleeping bag laid out in it's configuration. Looks like I have the elastic pulled a bit, probably from fiddling with it as a great coat.

Sleeping bag folded open to show how far the zipper goes up. You have to zoom in to see it but it goes about 40% of the way up the bag.
The sleeping bag with a MSS Patrol Bag laid on top. Note it is significantly smaller than the Serape. At the widest point they are not too different but at the bottom and top the Serape is a lot wider. The Serape is approximately as tall as the Patrol Bag but is the same width all the way up to the top making for a very roomy setup. If I was using the two together I'd put the Patrol Bag in the Serape. The 88" length combined with being the full width throughout makes for a roomy sleeping situation. That extends to the blanket also. Do the math with whatever your height is and for all but Giants there is plenty of room to tuck your feet in or pull it over your head or both.

There has been some discussion about temperature ratings for this bag. What a person is acclimatized too, the clothing they wear and ground cover all matter considerably here. Obviously an Alaskan mountain climbing guide wearing 4 layers of wool and fleece with an expedition weight closed cell foam pad will say a bag is good to a far colder temperature than a guy from Florida who just throws it on the ground and climbs inside wearing shorts and a t shirt. For me wearing a t shirt and pants using a foam pad it is comfortable to about 50 degrees which means it would likely be tolerable to 40 degrees. It is roughly equivalent with the light 'patrol bag' of the Modular Sleep System.

A use for this bag is as a bag liner in conjunction with another sleeping bag. Scott Hill uses one in conjunction with a light bag down to temperatures that would describe winter conditions in the South and fall/ early spring ones elsewhere. This particular approach makes a lot of sense. It offers the same warmth as a heavier bag but gives a whole lot more versatility. An argument to use the Serape exclusively in warmer temperatures and supplement it with an MSS Patrol Bag in temps down to a light freeze certainly has some strong points.

The Bad:
 Jack of All trades and Master of None- It is not the best lightweight sleeping bag, is a big, heavy and expensive rain poncho and is an OK coat. While I love the versatility of the Serape I do wonder if it is trying to do too much instead of focusing a bit more to maybe do 3 things really well instead of 2 things well and 2 things only passably.

Bulky- It is a bit bulkier than I imagined it would be. Not sure how to reconcile that one. It is true you do not get something for nothing so making it smaller would either mean shrinking dimensions or thinner insulation. At the end of the day while bigger than I would like it is still not too big to fit into most systems, especially if you factor in what it lets you take out of the bag, though it is close.

Expensive- You are looking at a bit under $200 to a touch over depending on color choice. That is a fair amount of coin to spend. Once you figure their costs for materials, labor, profit, compare to similar quality product and consider that it is a fairly low volume business I do not think the price is excessive but it is still a lot of money.

In this regard I would say the Serape is probably a good upgrade to your kit once most bases are covered instead of a must have right away item. Granted it is really useful but in the earlier stages of ones preparations that cash can help cover a lot of bases.

The Ugly- Nothing so far.

As to a couple of inevitable comparisons.

The USGI Poncho Liner- Ruger P90 (the P89 looking .45) vs Sig P220. The poncho liner is a fine piece of kit but it is dated and built with budget far more in mind than utility. The Serape is far warmer and much more versatile. Sure you can make a woobie work for most of the Serape's roles but it is the difference between wrapping a blanket around yourself awkwardly and a fairly decent coat. As to sleeping the two do not really compare. The Serape's extra size (at least I think, haven't measured a woobie) combined with it's sleeping bag style foot box and much warmer material is a whole different experience than a woobie.

In some ways the Serape could be thought of as a major upgrade to the woobie. They are a lot nicer but you do not absolutely need to get one. Personally when I purchased the Serape it replaced a USGI Poncho liner. It is kind of a difference between roughing it and smoothing it.

Kirafu Woobie/ Doobbie- These are high end blankets akin to what the poncho liner would be if it was designed by/for super cool JSOC guys without budgets instead of plain old Grunts. The Serape is a very versatile product that can allow you to remove other items from your bag/ system. Laid flat dimensions are similar. The Woobie is lighter than the Serape and the Doobbie is similar in weight. How they measure up warmth wise I cannot say though the Serape is going to be better at harnessing the material's warmth potential due to superior design in the sleeping bag and hooded 'great coat' configurations.

Personally I see no draw to the Kirafu Woobie/ Doobie. It is probably a great blanket but I see no reason to purchase one. [Now if they put a hood on it and figured out a quick simple way to pull the fabric around your waist (even 2 buckles attached to an adjustable strap) this might be a different conversation.] On the other hand the versatility of the Serape brings a lot to the table, especially for a kit where you cannot have a robust sleeping setup or a lot of spare warm clothing. The Serape can serve as a light sleeping bag, a pretty warm coat and an excellent blanket for the in between times.

*I should note here I do not own and have never personally handled the Kirafu products. Can only base my impressions of them on manufacturer data and stuff I have read online.

Overall Impression:
I am very happy with the Serape. It is not a cheap product, which is an understandable deal maker for folks on real tight budgets or just starting out in preparedness with a lot of bases to cover, but is a really cool multi use piece of gear to include in your kit bag.

Personally my Serape is the sleeping and (majority of) warm clothing in the assault pack/ EDC/ level 2.5 bag. The compatible nature if it will also allow me to use a lighter sleeping bag in my ruck.

So that is that. Are there any questions I did not cover?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hill People Gear Mountain Serape Other Peoples Impressions

Commander Zero asked some questions about my HPG Mountain Serape. While it is far too early for a full review I can give some initial thoughts to help answer his questions. In putting that post together I did some looking on the HPG forum to grab some stats then ended up finding some good stuff to bring over here. It turned out the stuff I got is lengthy enough that I thought it would be best to differentiate what others said from my thoughts. So you'll get this today and shortly I will follow up with my initial thoughts.

I should also note that Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog reviewed the HPG Mountain Serape a couple years back. His favorable review was a considerable part of my decision in purchasing the Serape. [At the risk of muddling the waters between other peoples thoughts here and mine later I should add the later version, which some call the second generation, has a couple changes. First the quilting is only to the back (inner) side giving the stability of insulation but letting the outer fabric retain it's full moisture resistance. Also the changes in material quality when they moves to the US version reportedly upped the weight to closer to 2.5 pounds.]

Onto stuff snagged in their forum. I am alternating fonts to show different authors. 

What are the dimensions in sleeping bag mode?
33"x88" laid flat.

Conditions Tested- 40F, Cloudy, Light Drizzle, Wet & Soggy Ground, 10-15 mph Winds.
The 4 Modes:
  • Serape- no brainer, works awesome. Glassed some whitetail on my property and some squirrels panacking for winter. Stayed warm toasty and dry, cinching up the waist shock cord helped keep in core warmth from wind drafts. Felt no wet spots when sitting.

  • Blanket- my dog and I headed out to our ground blind for a few hours to check on activity. I laid out the MS like a blanket and he claimed it pretty quicky, we both enjoyed an afternoon siesta on it. I did not notice any appreciable conductive heat loss while sleeping on the gound in 40F weather.
  • Sleeping Bag- I am 6'3 around 210lbs and was pretty shocked that the MS actually had full overhead coverage for me as advertised. I have very broad shoulders so the top half was a bit snug, but the bag doesn't zip up all the way which makes things more comfortable for bigger guys. One thing that I never saw mentioned that I found out was the zipper ends at the foot area,  opening it a little allows you to use sleeping bag mode while keeping your boots on, which is a great no mess feature.
  • Great Coat- I think I have this down based on the photos posted, but would still like to see a video tutorial. To be honest it felt a bit awkward using the MS in this mode, that was until I dawned my Tara over it which cut the puffy bulkness down significantly. I overheated rather quickly in this configuration but I am anxious to try it when the temps drop here and in a open landscape exposed to the elements.

Craig Robertson wrote
Gentlemen - I have a Kifaru woobie, does anyone have one that they can offer a comparison between the mountain serape and K woobie?  I am talking about warmth and weight, I know the MS outclasses the woobie in terms of versatility.  I am a complete HPG convert.
  Someone replied:
    Well, I traded my Mountain Serape (thought the new ones would be available sooner - oops), but I had one and also have the Kifaru Woobie as well. They're not really comparable items in a lot of ways, but if you're looking strictly at warmth and weight:
    The M.S. is considerably heavier than the Woobie - by about 14oz IIRC, and doesn't pack near as small. I can fit either in a Kifaru Large 3-String stuff sack, but the Serape will be stuffed to brink whereas the Woobie fits pretty easily and compresses very small. I haven't slept with either item outside more than a handful of times (although I sleep with a Woobie/Doobie every night at home) so bear that in mind. That said, my impression is the Woobie is a little bit warmer, though not drastically so. I can't say for sure, but I think the quilting on the Serape might be a factor... it just seems to let cold leak in more than I've experienced with the Woobie. My understanding is the Serape v2.0 eliminates the quilting though so that may even things up a bit.
    If I just wanted a blanket that was relatively lightweight and warm and I wasn't bringing my down JRB quilt, the Woobie would be my choice. The strength of the Mountain Serape is the versatility and that it replaces a jacket AND adds a sleep insulation layer, either alone or to boost a sleeping bag rating. That's why I owned both and will in the future, when the M.S. is available for sale again 

     Consensus seems to be it works as a stand alone sleeping bag to 45 degrees F or so. 
    Ryan here. Hope you got some value out of that. 
     So to recap other peoples answers to Zero's questions are:
    Is it long enough to fold some material under your feet to keep them warm and still be long enough to cover your neck/head when used as a blanket? Yes if you are within the average height range there is plenty of room for that. How small can it compress? Roughly the size of a 2 liter soda bottle, How noisy? Quiet. How does it drape? Pictures probably answer this question best.
Here is Alexander Wolfe wearing his Serape in 'poncho mode' as part of it's product review.
     Evan Hill wearing an HPG Serape in 'greatcoat mode.'
     Coming soon are my initial thoughts on the Mountain Serape 

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I was pretty late with this last week so not much this week. Also we had guests which was big fun but didn't lend itself to getting preparedness oriented things done. Anyway since I want to get back onto the more regular schedule you get this post again today.

Filled up some gas cans in the ever continuous struggle to ensure all our stored fuel is reasonably fresh.

Restocked some disposables.

When getting some admin stuff done I realized there was some unexpected cash in my Paypal account. Probably going to get a poncho and a Mountain Serappe like Alexander Wolfe's. Also looking at making a substantial food storage purchase. So not much happening this week but lots coming down the pipe. Also we'll have the last few posts from the Fighting Load contest to wrap it up.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Concealed Carry While Running

I received a question about carrying a gun while running today.

Carrying while running is reasonable and prudent but you have got to be realistic about what it will be.  A compact or subcompact pistol of a fairly light flavor like the various aluminum/ titanium/ whatever or polymer gun will carry pretty well. A full sized steel pistol, specially a big N frame is not going to carry well for running. Also a lethargic 2 miler around the neighborhood/ lake is different from 5 or 10k or even longer, especially if you are concerned about speed.

There are lots of options out there and I have not bought then tried them all. I immediately discounted anything on the waist or in the crotch. Also a shirt which the gun is held with Velcro into does not seem like a good option. Suppose a light gun in a fanny pack might work but haven't tried it.

I have carried running in two ways: a camel back and a hill people gear kit bag. Can talk about each of them.

The camel back I used is one of the ones with a couple pouches on top of the bladder compartment. I think it is the MULE but am not sure. The gun I carried was a little lightweight .38. It carried very well. I like to have water for longer runs and I didn't notice the bit of extra weight from the gun. The downside is that it is not at all close to a quick draw. You would have to take it off 1 shoulder, pull it around to the front then unzip the pouch.

The Hill People Gear kit bag is another option I have tried. It's review is overdue but basically it is a chest rig that instead of having a mag pouches has a bag with a main compartment, a smaller front pouch and a dedicated pouch to carry a handgun. I like this option a lot. Packed properly for running (pretty light) and adjusted properly it is pretty comfortable, especially if you are used to wearing chest rigs. Not as comfortable as slipping it into a pouch on the camel back but still quite acceptable. The up side is that the weapon is safely on your torso and the draw is pretty decent. Far better than fumbling around with something on your back. Personally I hook the kit bag (they call it docking) to my camel back for I go trail running. In the kit bag there is a pistol (either an airweight .38 or Glock 19), a reload, a knife, a lighter and some other similar items.

Anyway that is what I have tried and how it has worked. If you carry a gun while running, especially one of the non uuber tiny .22/ .25/ Kel Tech .32/ .380 type variety please share how you do it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lifestraw Initial Impressions

Camping Survival was nice enough to send me a lifestraw to check out. It is a pretty neat little product. Very simple and priced around $20 so you can have one in the car, another in a kit, a third in your EDC type bag or whatever. Also they weigh like 2 ounces which makes carrying one an easy decision. They are a bit long but they are thin enough to easily fit just about anywhere. 

The Lifestraw was designed for disasters and such in the third world so they are simple and easy to use. There is really nothing to break unless you crush the thing or light it on fire. They are said to be good to filter a thousand gallons of water.

My concept of use for this item is for outdoor trips, short term emergencies or as a backup to another system. I will fiddle with it some more and do a full review in due time. As of right now it's place is in my HPG Kit Bag.

If you are looking for a light and affordable filter the Lifestraw seems like a solid option.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Niche Gear

Do you have something that isn't used often but sometimes it is just right?

For me a shoulder holster is a great example of this. I generally do not like them as a way to carry. To conceal it you have to wear a pretty heavy over garment so you could pack OWB on the belt anyway. However for long car trips a shoulder holster is the ticket. Far more comfortable and accessible than any other on the body option. The one I am using these days is a Galco Miami Classic which was previously reviewed. A great holster but pretty spendy which drives a lot of folks away from them. Once upon a time I had a Blackhawk Shoulder Holster. You will not mistake it for a Miami Classic however it worked just fine at a cost I could afford at the time.

Another nitch item I have is a Hill People Gear Kit Bag. I haven't really reviewed it but TEOTWAWKI Blog did a solid review awhile back. This piece of gear is the answer for concealed carry with a heavy pack. However that isn't something I do much. Probably shouldn't have bought it when I did but oh well. They are a cool company and it is a good product. In coming years as the kids get older and we are more active in the outdoors it will earn it's keep. Still really want a Mountain Sarape. It seems like a woobie on steroids that can do a lot of things.

What is a niche piece of gear for one person might be a key EDC item for another. A longtime co conspirator carries his High Power in a Miami Classic every day. On the other hand a leather IWB holster like I use all the time is rarely in his rotation. Different lifestyles and situations make some items more important and others less so.

Common sense says you should not put much energy or money into nitche items until the more everyday ones are addressed. However at some point it makes sense to get a few useful items even if they are not useful all the time. While I do not like throwing money at problems sometimes there is just a right tool for the job and it makes sense to have that tool.

What nitche items do you own and use?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I ran a lot this week. Something like 15 or 16 miles. Also hit the gym once. Lifting once a week seems to be how things often come out for me. I am going to experiment with it some but doing 2 big lifts (mil press and deadlift (I work cleans in here sometimes) or Bench and Squat) once a week might be the ticket for me. Especially since I am more interested in endurance these days anyway.

Pulled the trigger on the PMAG order. 10 of those wonderful magazines will no longer suffer the fate of being owned by somebody other than me. This pretty much rounds me out for AR mags. Really I was fine before just a bit lighter on PMAGs than I wanted to be.

After taking everybody's advice into consideration I made a decision about what to get for gun stuff/ gear this month. I realized that a Hill People Gear kit bag is probably the best option out there to carry while running which is a good thing. In the past I have either not bothered or stuck a pistol in the big pouch of my camelback which probably isn't the best option. Also I saw a video of a one of the Evans Brothers from HPG running with a kit bag 'docked' to a camelback. This option appeals to me because it would be sufficient for a long trail run or a light hike. Also more to the point it would let me do what I want to do for no additional cost (aside from the kit bag). Down the road a runners harness and a tarahumara would be great but that is about another 200 bones I don't want to spend right now. Even if I had another $200 (I wanted) to spend on camping/ outdoor gear it would go to a Mountain Serape anyway.

I went with the full sized kit bag instead of the runners kit bag. I can always just load it light (G 19, spare mag, keys wallet, small knife, lighter) for runs but want to be able to have my personal survival kit but with the substitution of a small fixed blade knife, as well as headlamp and maybe a GPS in the outdoors which the runners kit bag probably wouldn't support. Also picked up the running stabilizer strap which is basically an elastic band.

My remaining cash will go towards a Safariland holster for the Glock. Likely this will be purchased in a couple weeks or a month. I thought about getting a leather OWB holster (I do have an OWB kydez holster anyway) but they don't really conceal well anyway and it would be another holster I don't use often. Also a Safariland, probably the 1.5 inch drop model, would do anything a leather belt holster could but not visa versa.

We are a little bit closer to getting out of here which is cool. Most of my time and energy has been put towards getting out of here, walking around and doing stuff with the kid and running.
Also we decided to put more money into food storage albeit at the expense of PM's. All in all not a bad week.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gun/ Gear Buying Time- An Informal Poll

Finally got my computer back today which is pretty cool. Well except it took almost 2 weeks and cost a couple hundred bucks. On the bright side they were able to save everything important.

This month's purchases will be gear/ defensive stuff. Not specifically related to this discussion but along these general lines it looks like rifle plates and some additional PMAGs should be sufficiently funded. Just waiting for me to figure out a few things and pull the trigger on both. Of course I will be happy when both are finalized and delivered. Also I had previously planned to get some more Glock mags and after reviewing my mental inventory I could pick up another gun and still stay under my mag ratio which is good enough for now.   So that can go down a few notches on the list.

I  have been kicking around a few ideas but really need to think about it. I need some  various small gun stuff, a couple random mags, another Glock holster, 2-3 sets of night sights, a pistol light and a rifle light. Also another nice pack to act as a special use/ get home bag would be sweet. Additionally I have just plain been gear lusting after almost everything Hill People Gear make. Particularly the Highlander pack, Mountain Serape and runners kit bag catch my eye. The kit bags are on sale right now but that is more something I will need down the road when the kid(s) grow up some and I start spending time under a ruck as a civilian.  As to the other two items they are on the short side of my gear list.

Part of me says I should get a good OC type (for outdoor activity, etc) holster for the Glock, night sights and some other little odds and ends. That fairly reasonable idea is solid but there are enough things moving around that I might just be able to take care of all that little stuff in one shot a little bit down the road. Along the gun line of effort I am jonesing to upgrade a bunch of parts on my all around AR. Pretty much I plan to get everything except a new lower from either BCM or Spikes Tactical (the old stuff may get sold but will probably go into inventory). The practical side says to finish up a bunch of this little gun stuff, get a .22 conversion kit, pick up some more gear and then upgrade. (On the other hand project upgrade AR is the last part of my now pretty short list of realistic things I want to get done before election time. I don't believe in going crazy because something might happen with a ban or whatever but filling whatever gaps happen to be present is just smart. Holsters and high end nylon gear aren't going anywhere for awhile.)

Also the warbelt project is still in the pipeline awaiting funding.

So there are 3 options:

A) Buy various small gun stuff now. Deal with additional revenue from gun sales (if anything pans out) later, probably towards project upgrade AR.

B) Get something cool from Hill People Gear or otherwise put money into gear.

C) Build a warbelt. I have a perfectly serviceable setup now, just not exactly what I would like.

There is always D) Do something else.

Before somebody asks the usual (relevant) questions about various other stuff like food or whatever please remember that the purchasing plan I am using allocates given amounts of money to different categories. It is not like I am shorting food to buy gear or medical to buy something else or whatever. Also what might be the biggest benefit of this plan is that I am no longer worried about if I should be spending money elsewhere. It is fairly easy for me to know what are the next logical options in a given category while it is pretty hard to compare totally unlike items. When it is time to buy gear I buy gear, ditto for food/ water or medical/ communications. I will revisit the categories maybe 1-2x a year to reshuffle if needed. This just takes out all that worry (and my tendency to gravitate to the tactical side which I know best) out of the equation.

I am still working through my own thoughts on this. Honestly I hadn't planned to write this post, it just sort of came together spontaneously. Anyway please let me know what you think. Cannot guarantee I will go with the consensus/ or most compelling point but I will sure take it into consideration.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Get Home Bag, Walking and Life Update

I am not sure if it has been mentioned explicitly yet but our time in Europe is almost done. We are very happy to be headed back to the US. Travel and some experiences here have been great but a lot of everyday stuff is a hassle. Also the level of regulations, rules and such here does not mesh with my nature at all. We saw a lot of places and missed some good ones. Particularly we are bummed about not getting to Ireland but that is how things worked out. There is more travel here than we could have done even if time and money were not concerns. In any case it is about time to move on to the next chapter in our lives. We will be spending about a month catching up with folks in the PNW. After that we are headed to the Southwest. More on that later.

We have been walking a lot lately. The weather is good now and it is a solid way to get out of the house and doing something. I do not recommend walking as a form of exercise unless you are A) elderly, B) recovering from a serious injury/ illness, C) crippled or D) seriously overweight and or out of shape and working towards running a la couch to 5k or a similar program. However that does not mean walking is not without benefits. Most of the benefits are not really physical. Getting outside and spending time with your family in the area you live in is a good thing. If somebody told me they walk as a form of exercise who did not fit the above categories I would try to coach them towards a better path, potentially with some mocking involved. If somebody told me they walk regularly to get outside and for active recovery from more strenuous workouts like running or rucking or for some additional low impact/ intensity cardio I would say that was a great plan.

My get home bag setup needs some work. The primary issue is that I really like my Tactical Tailor bag and use it regularly. I like that bag for the task but it can't be in two places at once. This makes having it in the car with a variety of stuff loaded into it problematic. I have a couple of ideas. First a couple side pouches to hold 1 quart water bottles will help free up space in the main compartment for normal life stuff. (Regardless of what I do the bag needs this MOD anyway.) Second sooner or later I need to swap out that bag or get a replacement for normal everyday carry use. Something I have considered is putting most of the stuff that is in my GHB into something else like a wet weather bag or trash bag and then putting it into my TT pack if needed. Mostly this stuff is a full set of clothes with boots, socks, gloves and a hat. I keep this stuff in there because regularly I go on short trips in less than fully ideal clothing and the option to change into suitable clothes for walking is a good thing. I mulled this a lot but despite being an easy and ideal solution it came up short because while I carry the TT bag around a lot while using it as a normal bag it doesn't ALWAYS MAKE IT INTO THE CAR. Inevitably the day I needed it is the day it would be in the hall closet. So the question is what to do. The short term answer is pretty much covered. I ordered a used medium ALICE pack awhile back for $10. It will be a very inexpensive solution and such will likely fit for awhile. Not as nice or comfortable but for $10 instead of $150 that is to be expected. Still a rugged bomb proof pack. Down the road a nice high end bag like the TT or something from Hill People Gear would be great in this role but I will not be able to justify the expense for awhile. Likely I  would use the TT for a GHB and something a bit smaller for typical every day type use. Since I don't see any traction on this for at least 6 months or more likely 12 there is some time to think about it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Randomness

Today was a pretty good day. Our weather finally snapped out of early spring nastiness if just for the day. We went out to a you pick field which was pretty fun. Kiddo had a good time. He didn't quite get putting them into the bucket but ate it all instead. The fruit we picked was pretty cheap which was cool. Far cheaper (healthier and fresher) than we could get in a store. This was definitely a reminder that we want to be close to our food. Producing some of our food would be ideal but with my job that can be problematic. Certainly we can buy from farmers markets (did it in the South) and if possible look into coop and group buy type stuff.

Went through and layed out my purchasing priorities for the next few months using my Intentional Purchasing Plan. Using this as a forcing function to put more money into medical stuff, alternative energy and food will probably make things much better balanced. Incidentally I planned to buy a bunch of medical stuff to put together a few IFAK's tonight but the Chinook Medical website, or at least my connection to it, is on the fritz. Sure it will be up tomorrow or the next day.

I stumbled onto the Hillpeoplegear site. Their recon kit bags are probably the best way to carry concealed on your body with a ruck on your back that I have seen. The stuff isn't cheap but I have heard good things about it. Don't need anything they make but some of their stuff would be aweful nice and make the outdoors more comfortable. In a couple years when, having squared up more basic stuff, I can afford some luxuries they will get some money from me.

A big highlight in our recent lives is getting hulu plus running through the Wii. We get a lot of TV for $7 a month which is pretty cool. We are enjoying watching Lost. As we have been over here for almost 3 years we are pretty behind the TV power curve. Some new entertainment opportunities are surely enjoyed in our house.

We had a pretty good Saturday here. Tomorrow will be a pretty quiet day as we take care of a lot of household stuff like grocery shopping and laundry on Sunday's. Anyway I hope you all are having a good weekend.
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