Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Month: June 2010


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“which one should I buy, an ALICE Pack or a MOLLE Pack?” – that is one of the questions that I see a lot of on the forum. The answer is not a simple one. Before you can answer a question, sometimes you have to ask a few questions.

How much room do you need
How rugged do you need the frame? – the MOLLE pack has a plastic frame, ALICE has a metal frame

A couple of weeks ago my son, nephew and I went on a boating / camping trip. We loaded up the gear, launched the boat and headed out to a camping spot on the river. While we were there, I decided to put together a video about the packs and do a little comparison.

My first exposure to the ALICE pack was way back in either 1992 or 1993.  One of my good buddies had just came back from the first Persian gulf conflict, and one of the first things he did was buy himself a medium ALICE pack to replace the one he had been using in the ARMY.  I liked the pack so much, I bought myself one.  The difference between my buddies pack and mine – my pack was woodland camo, while my buddies pack was olive drab.  After using the medium ALICE for a few years, I found it was a little so, so I bought a large ALICE pack in olive green.

My first exposure to the MOLLE pack was a couple of months ago after I bought 3 packs off ebay.

The three packs that my son, nephew and I brought on the camping included – Large MOLLE with internal sleep system, MOLLE with external sleep system and medium ALICE pack.

Large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system compartment – digital camo, internal sleep system compartment, plastic frame, no external pouches or internal pouches, map case in top flap, no radio pouch inside of pack, no hydration pocket for water bladder.  The shoulder straps and waist belt are desert camo because I bought 2 desert camo packs off ebay, and used one set of straps and waist belt on my large molle.  I would really like to replace the desert camo stuff with woodland green, but woodland green MOLLE stuff is a little difficult to find on ebay.  Also, the military is supposed to be releasing its new camo to the troops pretty soon.  This might cause the price of digital camo items to drop.

One of the things that I really liked about the large MOLLE is how much webbing it has. The pack also has webbing on the bottom of the pack to strap a sleeping bag, tent, tarp or anything else.

One of the things that I did not like about the large MOLLE – it did not have a radio pouch inside the pack like the alice pack does. Nor does the pack have pouches on the outside of the pack. The plastic frame is also a draw back. Nor do I like having to use the pack with a frame – if the frame breaks your just out of luck.

Large ALICE VS Large MOLLE – If I had to pick between the Large ALICE and the Large MOLLE, to me there is no real comparison – Large MOLLE all the way.

When the Large ALICE is loaded, it seems to “fat”, and sticks too far off my back.  The makes me have to lean forward to off set the weight sticking off my back.

The Large ALICE does not have any compression straps around the pack – this might be one reason why it seems too fat.  Once th pack is loaded up, there is no way to take the slack out, because there are no compression straps.  With the Large MOLLE pack on the other hand,  it has a couple of straps where you can cinch it down nice and tight.  So if your carrying a large load, it can be cinched up so that its close to your body.

The Large ALICE pack has 6 external pouches – 3 large and 3 small, while the Large MOLLE has none.  This has its pros and cons.  The small pouches on the Large ALICE are almost to small to store anything but small items.  The larger pouches are big enough to store rain gear, and a 1 pound propane bottle will fit just right.

The Large ALICE pack has a radio pouch inside the pack, the Large MOLLE Pack does not.  This may not seem like a big deal – but I like a place to store my smaller items, like bug spray, small flashlight, small muti-tool, bible, FM-2176, personal hygiene kit, camera and camera case along with spare batteries,,,,,, stuff like that.

MOLLE with external sleep system – lets just call this one the Medium MOLLE pack – desert camo, external sleep system compartment, claymore pouch on outside, no internal pouches or compartments, plastic frame, map case in top flap – but has plastic on one side of the map case so you can see the map without having to take the map out.

Overall, I view this pack as the least flexible – it has only a few webbing around the pack, none that wrap around the entire pack, and no webbing on the bottom of the pack. has very little webbing on it, no pouch on the inside and only one pouch on the outside of the pack.

Without the external sleep system compartment attached, and with something in it – the pack would not stand up on its own.  It had to be leaned against a tree or something else in order for it to stand up.  Its nice when you can drop and pack, and it stands up so you can dig through it.

Medium MOLLE VS Medium ALICE – If I had to pick between the Medium ALICE and the Medium MOLLE, I would have to pick the Medium ALICE.

The Medium MOLLE does not have enough webbing – this makes attaching extra pouches nice and easy.  So if you need a place to keep a canteen, just attach a canteen.  If you need a first aid kit on the outside of you pack, just attach a first aid kit.

The Medium MOLLE does not even webbing on the bottom of the pack for lashing a tent, sleeping bag, tarp,,,, or anything else to it.

The Medium ALICE pack has 3 outside pouches – which are just the right size for storing rain gear and a 1 pound bottle of propane for a stove. There is also webbing that runs the circumference of the pack, which makes attaching more pouches easy.  The Medium MOLLE does not have any external pouches, and with a lack of webbing, there is no way to attach extra pouches.

Neither the Medium ALICE nor the Medium MOLLE has a place for a hydration bladder.  As long as you can carry plenty of canteens, this should not be a big deal.  But one more thing but that webbing – or rather the lack of it on the Medium MOLLE- if you dont have the webbing, your no going to be able to attach canteens to the outside of the pack.

When the canteens were put in the top flap (map case) the pack became top heavy.  On the camping trip my son used the Medium MOLLE, and noted that it was top heavy because of where we had to put the canteens.


If I had to re-buy any or all of the packs in this article, it would be in this order:

1.  Large Molle – Well designed pack, the few things I do not like about this pack can be easily fixed with a few add-on pouches.  I still wish it had a metal frame instead of that junk plastic.

2.  Medium ALICE – Battle proven through military use for around 40 years.  Metal frame, lots of webbing,,,.  The only draw back is that its a little heavy.

3.  Large ALICE – Lots of room, but when fully loaded can be un-comfortable to carry.  The lack of compression straps makes this pack too fat.

4.  Medium Molle – I dont know if I would even buy this pack again.  For something that supposed to be used by the military, I’am really disappointed in it.

Post your comments in this forum thread – comparing the MOLLE and ALICE Packs.


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People are like the rain fly of a tent

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Do you play it safe and leave the rain fly on overnight – just in case it rains?
Or do you leave the rain fly off, and will deal with the rain when the time comes?

Do you leave the rain fly on, so no wild animals can peak into your tent at night.
Or do you not care what peaks into your tent while your asleep?

…In other words, do you play it safe, or do you take a little risk?

One man tent for a bug out bag

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There has been ideology going around the survivalist circle for the past couple of decades – if some kind of end of the world event happens, I’ll just load up my Bug Out Bag and head to the hills. If you go to just about any survival forum, there will be dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of threads about what kind of back pack would make a good bug out bag. One of the next most popular questions is – what kind of one man tent would be good for a bug out bag.

Here are some of the things I look for in a tent

Weight – how much does the tent weigh? The more the tent weighs, something else has be be removed from the pack to keep the overall weight down.

1, 2, 3 or 4 season tent – where are you going to be using the tent, will it be for hot weather, cold weather, wet weather, or something else? If you live along the gulf cost where it rarely snows, do you really need a 4 season tent? If you mostly go hiking / camping in hot weather, you want to make sure the tent breathes well.

Most of my hiking / camping is done in hot weather – so I look for a tent with a removable rain fly, and mosquito netting across the top of the tent.  This allows a cross breeze to go across the person in the tent, and helps with the removal of collected body heat inside the tent.

Assembly time – how long does it take to put the tent up? Is the tent overly complex to assemble?

1, 2, 3 or more person tent – how many people are going to be using the tent?  Since this article is about 1 person tents, lets just leave it at that.

Lets take a look at some one person tents

Wenzel Starlite Biker Tent – I have owned one of these tents for about 15 years. Its lightweight, compact, easy to carry and fits into the bottom of an alice pack just right. The problem is, its a single layer tent. Because of this reason it might not be a good choice for blowing rain. If the rain is coming from the side, instead of straight down, this tent might not be a good choice.

The Wenzel Starlite is what you call a tube tent – one end opens up and you crawl inside.

This video was a couple of years ago while my son and I were on a camping trip. Sorry for the poor video quality, it was before I got a good grasp of the video editing software.

No Limits Sunlight Peak One Man Tent – I bought one of these tents from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas – one of the tent poles broke the first time it was used on a camping trip, so it was returned to the store and exchanged.

Overall, I liked the tent – it does not have a lot of spare room, the vestibule is a little small – its just big enough to fit a pack about 2,500 cubic inches in it, its a little heavy weighing in at over pounds, and it took about 10 minutes to put up. The tent poles have to be put in in a certain way, or they will not fit.

A review of the No Limits Sunlight Peak One Man Tent was posted in the forum back on April 18, 2010

Eureka Solitaire Tent – Eureka is famous for making top quality tents, and the Eureka Solitaire holds up to that reputation. It seems well built, was somewhat easy to setup, weighs less then the No Limits tent and has a rain fly for improved rain protection. This is a tube tent design, but has an added feature of having a zipper in the mosquito netting.

This Eureka Solitaire has not been subjected to an in-the-field test – but it has been setup in the yard next to the house while some rain was falling. After sitting in the rain for a few hours, only a couple of drops got though the rain fly.

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 – The next tent I’am looking at buying is the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 – 2 man tent. The problem with a one man tent, a lot of them do not leave you with any extra room. So sometimes its better to go with a lightweight 2 man tent. Where the other person would sleep in the tent – that is where you have room to store your gear.

Please post your comments in this forum thread – suggest a good on man tent for a bug out bag.

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Heavy metals in protein powders and shakes

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For those of you stocking up on protein powders as an emergency food prep, you might want to think again – either that or be very picky about which brands your buying. Consumer reports has published a study details their testing for heavy metals. Some of the results exceed safety guidelines.

To view the Consumer Reports testing, check out this page on the Consumer Reports website – What’s in your protein drink

If your stocking up on protein powders as part of your survival food preps, post your comments in this forum thread – WARNING about protein powders and shakes.

On a side note, I think its pretty amazing that metals like lead can work their way into our food supply.  For over 200 years people have known what kind of problems lead can cause in the body, but for some reason companies still allow it into food?  Is this an issue of the companies do not care, or they jut do not know.

Do you cut your own grass

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Over the past week or so, this part of East Texas has been having almost daily thunderstorms. Well, today we did not get any showers, so my wife and I decided to cut the grass. As I was pulling out the lawnmower, thoughts went through my head about a blog post I should make. The question is, do you cut your own grass? From a survivalist point of view, this is why I think you should cut your own grass, instead of paying someone else do it.

Save money

People waste money in too many ways. Whether its interest on credit cards, a large soft drink you dont finish, a cheese burger you only eat half of, a music CD that half the songs suck,,,,,, people throw away too much money.

One of the ways that we can save money is by cutting our own grass – instead of paying someone else to do it. If you can do something for yourself, and save money, then do it. If your capable of cutting your grass – dont have a health condition – then why not?

Get some exercise

One of the problems working at an office job – a lot of people do not get enough physical activity. Just a few years ago the majority of the population worked in factories, ship yards, welding shops, building roads,,,, but today, it seems that most people sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day.

By cutting your grass every 3 or 4 days, your outside getting some sunshine and getting some physical exercise. Dont try to get off easy and get a self propelled or riding lawn mower – get one that makes you work those legs, back and arms.

Good chance to meet the neighbors

While your outside pushing that lawnmower around, try to do it at the same time as your neighbor. Maybe stop at the fence and strike up a conversation. Ask a few questions to figure out whether neighbor is one of the sheeple, prepper, or fellow survivalist. You might be surprised at how many closet survivalist are out there.

Before you meet the neighbor, do some observing to see what they drink – coke, dr.pepper, tea, pepsi,,,,.  When you stop to meet the neighbor, make sure you just “happen” to have an ice chest with some cold drink sin it. This could help to break the ice.

Survivalist – man, it sure is hot out here.
sheeple – it sure is.
survivalist – you want something to drink
sheeple – sure
survivalist – what do you drink, I have an ice chest right here.
sheeple – do you have a coke
survivalist – having seen his neighbor drinking coke, the survivalist just “happens” to have some ice cold cokes ready to go – here ya go, ice cold
sheeple – that hit the spot
survivalist – so what do you think about this oil spill in the gulf of mexico?
sheeple – oil spill in the gulf of what????
survivalist – from here, be careful of how much you say, you do not want to seem overly educated on current events – the news has been talking about some kind of oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, I thought you might have heard something about it.

Throw out some bait and see if the neighbor bites. I like to play dumb for a little bit so the other person can act big and talk about how much they know.

The goal is to keep the other person talking, and you take in the information for later analyzes.  Just keep your mouth shut and let the neighbor ramble on and on and on,,,,,.  This also makes the other person feel important that someone is actually listening to him/her.

Rotating your gas stocks

The lawn mower is a good place to rotate out your fuel stocks. Instead of buying fresh gasoline, pull some from your gas stocks, and burn it in the lawnmower. The replace the gas in your stocks with fresh stuff.

Deer lease in Southeast Texas

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If you live in the Southeast Texas area, and if your looking to get on a hunting lease, I just happen to know of a lease looking for members.

Cost – $900 per year
Off deer season – access to over 5,000 acres
During deer season – each person has their area to hunt on, which equals to about 100 acres
Location – about 15 miles north of Jasper, Texas (75951 zip code), off county road 232.

You get full use of the lease during non-deer hunting season. That means you get to hog hunting, hiking, camping, dove hunting, squirrel hunting, on about 5,000 acres. The area is covered with pine trees, oak trees, hills and streams. Its beautiful country – at least to me anyway.

On a personal note, this is where I take my kids hunting, hiking and camping.

If you want to get on the lease, see this forum thread about the hunting lease in Southeast Texas.

If you do not want to sign up on the forum, just send an email to – be sure to make the title of the email something like “deer lease” or “hunting lease”.

Win a gearpods survival kit

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How would you like the chance to win a GearPods Backcountry survival kit system? If you dont know what the Gearpods system is, just visit their homepage –

Gearpods is a modular kit system, you can mix and match parts to design the best survival kit to fit your needs.

There are going to be 2 contest running at the same time.

Here is how to enter:

To register for contest #1, members must register on the home page at – all they need to do is enter an email address – bottom of the left column. We send at most 4 emails a year and after the contest, members can easily unsubscribe from future emails.

To register for contest #2, Post your best overall design for a GearPods survival system using any kits and components currently available from the Gearpods site, up to a total of $300.

Post your design in this thread – design your gearpods system

Post your questions in this forum thread about the Gearpods contest.

Texas summer heat is almost here

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A lot of survival forums have special sections on wilderness survival or cold weather survival – I think there should be a section for hot weather survival. In cold weather you can put more clothes on (if you have them), you can build a fire, build a shelter, build a wall to reflect the heat, use a space blanket, buy on the best insulated clothing – boots, gloves – parka,,,,,, you get the idea.

But when your dealing with the heat, its a little different – sitting in the shade, limiting physical activity, and drinking water can only take you so far. When the outside temps in the shade reach 100 degree – if your outside humping a pack through the woods you can be in trouble.

The current day time temps are in the mid 90s, say around 93, 94 and 95.  By the end of June, temps should be in the mid – upper 90s.  By the time July and August get here, we should be seeing low 100s everyday.

As heat exhaustion and heat stroke starts to set in – there is only one option, and that is too cool off and quick. The problem is, when your in the middle of the woods, with no water near-by, cooling off might be a problem.

Keep a bandanna or spare shirt in your pack – use some water from your canteen or water bottle to wet the rag and apply to your neck, forehead, wrist, ears,,,,,, anywhere the blood vessels are close to the skin.

Keep an instant ice pack in your backpack or first aid kit – this could give temporary relief from the heat.

Know what to look for in heat exhaustion and heat stroke – do not ignore the early warning signs.

Take breaks before you reach your limit – do not tire yourself out. when on the hiking trail, be aware of your physical limitations, do not act like your a super hero, because your not.

Bring TOPO maps on your hiking / camping trips – that way you can look for creeks and streams near your location.

Think of water sources as cool down areas – when you stop to fill up your canteens, take the time to cool down – wet a spare shirt or bandanna and apply to your neck, arms, ankles, ears, forehead,,,,,. Sometimes I will take my boots off and put my feet in the water, or lay down in the water with my clothes on. With temps in the 90s – 100 degree range, the wet clothes will dry pretty quick. The evaporation of the water will help your body cool off.

Wear a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off the back of your neck – the major blood vessels run through the neck, if you keep the sun off your neck, the skin will stay cooler, if the skin stays cool, the blood vessels stay cool, if the blood vessels stay cool, the brain stays cool.

If you do not have a wide brimmed hat, use a bandanna tucked into the back of your hat to keep the sun off your neck.

Keeping the sun off your neck also reduces your chance of getting sun burned.

External or external frame backpacks

Internal frame packs – usually stay right up against your body, which helps retain body heat.  In “really” hot weather, you do not want to retain body heat.

External frame packs – usually hold the pack off the back, which allows for some air flow.  This allows sweat on the back to evaporate easier then if the pack was right up against your back.

Post your comments in this forum thread about hot weather survival.

This video was filmed in the summer of 2009 while my son, my nephew and I were on a hiking trip. It got a little hotter then what I expected.

Survivalist Security

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Security is something that is often overlooked.  We reach a point in our lives where we are comfortable – we get up in the morning, get a shower, brush the teeth, get dressed, go to work, go to lunch, go back to work, go home, watch a little TV, go to bed – repeat.

Friends and family come over, we may talk about prepping, or getting ready for a disaster,,,, maybe we say too much, maybe we say more then we should.

There is an old saying that I try to live by – “loose lips sink ships.”

Nobody but you and your family needs to know what kind of preps you have.  If you have a years worth of beans, rice, MREs, fire wood,,,, nobody else needs to know about it.

The worst kind of survivalist security is talking about being a survivalist or a prepper around those that are not.  Then they take what you told them, and spread it around.  They tell their friends, and those people tell more people.  If you live in a small town, before long everyone in the community has plans on going to your house if there is ever a disaster.

Tell no one about your plans.

Tell no one about your preps.

Tell no one about your food stocks.

Tell no one about your Bug Out Bag.

Tell no one about your bug out location – or how your going to get there.

Tell no one about your generator, or any other backup plans.

In other words, act just like all of the other sheeple – that way you do not attract attention.  As far as anyone else knows, your going to be in the same situation as everyone else if there is a disaster.

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