Jewish Preppers?

Some people finding our website may be wondering what is a Prepper and why does it have a religious affiliation? Well the short answer is...A Prepper is the modern day survivalist. It's not (necessarily) a right-wing militiaman preparing for Armageddon in the boondocks of Montana. But better represented by a normal, educated, middle class individual perhaps living in the most urban of cities, preparing themselves physically and mentally for any upcoming disaster, natural or man-made. This could include anything from earthquakes to volcanic eruptions, social unrest to an act of terrorism. Preparations include: food supply, medical supply, weapons supply etc. and the knowledge and skills to use them. Of course, a Jewish Prepper is just a designation for a small niche of the Prepper Community that is of the Jewish Faith. We are non-profit and nonpartisan. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Tactical Tool Roll by

Review: Tactical Tool Roll


The Tactical Tool Roll was designed to carry your necessary tools to your jobsite and then be laid out with everything visible and easy to get at. It can even be hung up over a door knob using it's carry handle. There are 15 heavy gauge, UV resistant vinyl window compartments of various sizes and two exterior fast access YKK brand zippered cocoon pockets. There is also a center seam of elastic to secure cords and loose items. The unrolled kit measures 36" x 14" and rolls up and then secures with hook & loop fasteners and side release buckles for maximum security. The Tactical Roll then features a heavy-duty wrap around carry handle. On the outside of the rolled up pouch there is a 6" x 3" patch of loop fastener for attaching nametapes, contents labels or unit patches.

Some of our staff members are using theirs as display rolls for their knife and watch collections. What will you put in yours?

Introductory Price

My take:

I purchased this about 2 weeks ago to keep pistol and rifle cleaning supplies together and easily chosen after trips to the range. I got tired of digging through a small bag looking for things and getting my fingers poked by a bronze brush. The numerous slots are covered by sturdy clear vinyl and are variably sized. There are 15 slots plus a zippered compartment. The smallest measures about 2.5” wide (all but one are about 6” long); the widest measures about 3.5”. One pouch measures 13” by 4” which closes with a hook and loop strip. There is also a zippered compartment about 13” x 2” x 3”. The tactical tool roll allows me to bring a bit of everything in amounts that I choose, usually less than original packaging of the item, for example a 2 inch pile of cotton patches rather than the entire bag. I also bought a few of their syringes which are now filled with either CLP or grease saving some weight. It rolls up, closed by hook and loop strip and straps, and is good to go.

The construction appears to be quite robust but durability is not yet determined - only time will tell and my expectations are high. For my range trips, I pack my cotton swabs in one slot and a syringes of chemical cleaners and lubes in another. Another slot holds my Otis cleaning kit. Other slots easily manage a few tools, Celox and Israeli trauma dressing bandages (both of which should be in every range bag). CountyComm has the bandages at a very competitive price.

In fact, the Tool Roll works so well, I plan to buy a few more. One for my car for small tools and breakdown supplies (some JB Weld, flashlight, space blanket, Celox, Israeli trauma bandage, cash and etc) and one for my GOOD bag which will hold duplicate items of the one I use for the range, plus some other gear like a fire steel, kindling, and other odds and ends. In all uses, the tool role will help organize the necessities for quick access and inventory. The clear vinyl windows let you see what you got.

The Tool Roll rolls up easily and secures with both a hook and loop closure and with quick-release buckled straps. Two convenient carry handles to hold your gear are not padded but get the job done. I was a bit disappointed to see there is no webbing or means to attach to the Molle in my backpack.

CountyComm got the package shipped quickly and it was easily tracked. UPS got it to my doorstep. Ordering via their website was fairly good. Be forewarned: there are lots of tempting goodies and the site is set up for easy browsing. And browse you must as their stock of over-runs quickly changes. In fact, I ended up buying a few more goodies each time I hit their site. A short wave radio, small pry bars (who can resist titanium?), a bag for the radio, and some other goodies. Expect a review of the radio once I can get it to a friend who knows civilian radio quite well.

Also from their web site:


CountyComm designs, manufactures and sells select products to federal, state and local government agencies. Excess inventories are only sold to the public on We specialize in automatic and quartz movement high quality rugged wristwatches with tritium illumination. We carry the complete line of Maratac™ tactical web gear, flashlights and over 100 military style Zulu™ watchbands. Our unique EDC (Every Day Carry) products are known throughout the world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Earthquakes in CO and DC... perhaps a reminder to soon change your kit to the "winter" version. You do have an emergency kit prepared, right? If not, start surfing here among other places. We all got lucky, but then again, there's a hurricane heading to the East Coast. And one fault was declared essentiallt dead by the USGS. Oops.

Got water? Food? Clothes? Meds?

Friday, August 19, 2011

WROL: Without the Rule Of Law

Latest example:
White House Moves Ahead With Deportation Rules That Congress Rejected
The Obama Administration is undertaking a case-by-case review of illegals slated for deportation using criteria from the DREAM Act, which failed to pass Congress

This from Fox news this morning. Not that I agree or disagree but rather I am appalled that the current administration continues to ignore Law and the Constitution. Remember Pelosi's response to the query asking if ObamaCare is Constitutional. "Really?" No, really. Don't like a law, ignore it. Don't like someone, sic the DOJ on them. When the application of Law becomes a whim, there is no more law.

And the relation of WROL and the stock market tanking another 5% yesterday and gold bouncing above $1,800 an ounce? Coincidence? I think not. "Fast and Furious" is not just another crappy movie but a false flag operation, or at least one flown under a flag of complete incompetence, with the DOJ stonewalling Congress' investigation; an undeclared 'kinetic action' in Yemen; the DOJ suddenly investigating S&P following their downgrade of the US; mob attacks in a few cities and too many more examples to list.

Meet fellow Jpreppers (I hope JDate doesn't sue me) this Sukkot.

A shit storm is brewing, and unlike Rabbi Akiba, I don't think I will be laughing at the destruction of the Rule of Law I once believed in as a child.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I usually am not overtly religious on a daily basis. I don my suit and tie for the High Holidays and on the occasional Shabbat services. Shabbat dinner with my family when I’m in NY. The following from Sultan Knish was kindly sent to me by some truly religious friends who actively walk the walk of striving to have more God in their daily lives. They do a great job of it and I am often jealous. The headline below perfectly describes their outlook towards the future: “things may get worse, but that’s OK, it’s God’s plan so there’s a reason and things will then get better.” They strive to see God’s hand and understand that task is daunting to mere humans, motes in God’s eye. They are preppers, while Mr Greenfield, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t. And if you aren’t familiar with Daniel Greenfield’s blog (, you should be. Go visit and catch up on some of his writings.

Pessimistic Optimism, Optimistic Pessimism and Judaism

Sitting on the floor and mourning the fall of temples thousands of years gone, amid the plenty of an industrial empire has a whiff of perversity to it. "Why bother," some might ask, "Israel has been rebuilt and is home to the largest Jewish population in the world. If you want another temple, build it. With modern construction technology, it can be bigger and better than any before."

But the temple has never really been the point. The loss of the temples is not about buildings, just as 9/11 was not about the loss of two skyscrapers. It is about pessimism and optimism.

Pessimism and optimism are best deployed as perverse qualities. There is no use in being an optimist when things are good. It is simply redundant. Similarly being a pessimist when things are at their worst is equally useless. It is in the seemingly good times that we need to be pessimistic and in the bad times that we must be optimistic. [emphasis added]

Judaism incorporates this into traditions that at times seem senseless. There were covert Passover Seders in concentration camps held by the inmates in celebration of the festival of freedom. It takes a perverse sort of optimism to be within a few hundred feet of the gas chamber and still whisper, "I was a slave in Egypt, now I am free."

And now in the middle of the world's greatest democracy, in a land overflowing with everything you can imagine, it takes a perverse sort of pessimism to sit on the floor, and mourn and weep as if you have lost everything.

But this is more than tradition, it is a survival strategy to never take things at face value. To never be comfortable. To be comfortable is to be a sitting duck because it means forgetting that things can change in an instant. That is a valuable lesson taken away from thousands of years of being refugees. The key to surviving that way of life is awareness. [Emphasis added]

It was not just technology and organization that made the Holocaust so unprecedentedly devastating, it was the forgetfulness of millions of Jews who had ceased to sit on the floor, who became comfortable and at ease. Who believed the liberal promise that the world was now a better place. It wasn't.

The pessimist knows that things can always get worse. And in the summer, when other people light up barbeques and shoot off fireworks, traditional Jews trudge off to remember a litany of tragedies that happened to a people who had become so comfortable that they had forgotten this basic lesson.

Things can always get worse. And when they do, you have to be optimistic. That is the other half to surviving for four thousand years. You won't do it without a sense of humor. Seeing the lighter side of even the most terrible things is a surprising survival method. Laugh at your worst enemies, it works surprisingly well.

Being that kind of optimist isn't about wearing rose colored glasses, it's about remembering that no evil is final. That the worst terror of the present day will pass. That all such things are flecks of dust in the face of the vastness of the universe, the breadth of history and above all of an Almighty G-d.

This is the long view. It is composed of equal parts pessimism and optimism, because how else can you view history, except with that mixture of absurd hopeful tragedy that defines Jewish character. Everything is doomed, but it will all turn out for the best.

We have been around long enough to know that nothing will endure and seen enough to appreciate the things that do. The lesson of history is the ephemerality of all human ambition. It is the message most famously rendered in Ecclesiastes. "The sun rises and the sun sets" (Kohelet 1:5) and the next day we'll have to do it all over again.

The Jews in concentration camps could look back to slavery in Egypt, and with the perspective of the divine calendar, confidently proclaim that they would be redeemed. Their slavery was a temporary condition. They might not survive it, but that made it all the more temporary. Their freedom had been granted thousands of years ago. It could not be taken away by the Nazis or anyone else.

Those who held on to that kind of faith could dismiss the gas chamber with a shrug. It was a terrible thing, but like Babylon, Assyria and Rome-- it would pass.

But it is paradoxically easier to be optimistic in hard times, than to be pessimistic in good times. When the days are dark, hope is an escape, a thing that people turn to when there is nothing else. When times are good and everything is plentiful it takes a neurotic or religious mindset to remain doubtful. It is a difficult thing to do for most and it is why so few survive.

Civilization breeds us to be sitting targets, to assume that the laws and social mores are iron clad protective forces, rather than fragile expectations that can be broken with a moment's force. This permanence is the cage around the bird and the pen around the sheep. And it is a permanence that we remember to forget when sitting on the floor and recalling the past.

This was the failure that led to the exiles of the Jewish kingdoms, who forgot G-d in their time of plenty, but remembered Him only in their time of suffering. Who assumed that their present comfort was a permanent achievement, that their cities were eternal, their kingdoms unshakable and that there was no larger force that could change that.

9th of Av with its mourning and deprivation is a reminder that it is not in suffering that we forget Him but in plenty. And so in the midst of the feast, we fast. In the middle of a society where the average person lives better than in thousands of years or throughout most of the world, we sit on the floor and remember to mourn. Remember to forget the assumptions that supermarkets, mobile phones and all the security that living in the greatest nation in the world brings. To remember that it can all change.

The feast and the fast are both parts of the divine calendar and they allow traditional Jews to measure the present against the sweep of history. To be optimistic in the darkest times and pessimistic in the best of times. To take nothing for granted, but to know that G-d can change everything we have learned to count on in the blink of an eye.

The divine calendar cuts through modern assumptions like a knife. It demands that we see ourselves as free when enslaved, and as wandering refugees when surrounded by prosperity. It forces us to remember the message of the last king of the united kingdom of Israel in Ecclesiastes. That all under the sun will pass away.

This fragility carries with it a powerful perspective. Those who listen see a crisis coming before it arrives. Not because they are necessarily any better or wiser than the rest, but because their eyes are open. And those who do not listen, linger until it can be too late. [Emphasis added]

History is the revelation of impermanence. And Judaism is the revelation that this impermanence has a larger purpose. It is a religion of history, whose holy books encompass a history that carries with it its own meaning. Its holidays assemble its believers to remember and re-experience that history. To stand again at the Red Sea reliving the exodus and to make the long walk out of Jerusalem in the shadow of a burning temple.

History is identity and identification. At its best it does more than tell you where you are, it also tells you why you are. In Judaism, G-d is the First Cause of our history and the guide and purpose behind our religious civilization. He is the permanence in the impermanence of history. The required point of stability in a history in which civilizations rise and fall, cities grow out of the mud and fall back into it, and nothing appears to endure but life itself.

The motion of a permanent force in the impermanence of history is reason for both optimism and pessimism. Both are present in the famous tale of the sages who beheld a fox scampering out of the ruin of the Temple. The three sages who wept on seeing a terrible prophecy fulfilled and Rabbi Akiva who laughed because the fulfillment of a dreadful prophecy meant that the prophecies of a final redemption would equally be fulfilled. Is that optimistic pessimism or pessimistic optimism? Call it survival.


I was a slave in Egypt, now I am free. No matter what.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Allen West's Response to CAIR

"NUTS", like a previous General responding to the German Army in WWII. Perfect (and makes up for his lame vote for the debt debacle bill).

It's a start....

Hat tip to Atlasshrugs

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Clauss Titanium Bonded Snips (Trauma Scissors)

Review: Clauss Titanium Bonded Snips

OK, so I like the extremes of high high tech and low low tech. The middle range is a bit boring for me. I instantly perk up when I hear tritium, titanium and the like as well as forged.

I recently purchased a pairof Clauss Titanium Bonded Snips, basically a set of basic trauma scissors coated with titanium for the advantages of titanium. From their web site,

Titanium Bonded is not painted or plated, but an application of a unique formulation of titanium and chromium nitride to the surface of cutting blades that actually penetrates and treats the metal to create a permanent bond. The patented Titanium Bonding process provides the following benefits; corrosion resistance, adhesive resistance and the process itself makes the stainless steel 3x harder than untreated stainless providing a blade that stays sharper longer.

I have used, abused and broken more than my share of trauma scissors since my 3rd year of medical school, before cell phones and MRIs. At first glance, they appear a step above the fray with better molded finger holes, and of course that cool titanium color. I have only had them for a few weeks, so the claim they stay sharper longer is not yet tested. They do feel a bit sharper than the standard trauma shears. The grips are more comfortable andthere is less play at the pivot.

As for cutting, they do very well. I don’t have a fresh pairof standard trauma scissors for comparison on hand. I did notice that the cutting angle on the finger blade is more acute than most scissors, more along the lines of barber shears than standard scissors, which does give a sharper edge. I think they can use this steeper edge because the titanium bonding adds a bit of strength to the edge ( a more acute angle is weaker in the same metal and more prone to dulling) . The thumb blade is the standard serration.

Cutting through clothing is a snap and there is less jamming, The former is due to the scissors sharpness, and the latter may be due to the quality pivot. Around the house, they make short order of cutting through cardboard and even the indestructible packaging too often used. The grips are comfortable.

The edges are well made. See the microphotographs at 20x and 400x. A more polished edge would lack “teeth’ to grip. The serrations are precise.

I plan to order two more, one for the kitchen for general utility and the other in my emergency bag. I found them online for about 1/2 of the MSRP.

Smooth edges at 20x and 400x.

Serrations look precise at 20x.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sukkot Weekend Update

I am pleased to announce that we will have an NRA Certified Instructor who will offer at no charge the Basic Pistol Class good for MA residents, and perhaps other locales, and a fine review for others. He will also be the Range Control Officer when we start target shooting.

If you don’t have your own weapon, or want to try some others, there will be numerous rifles (from an AK to M1A and much more), pistols, and shotguns from a pistol-grip Mossberg to a semi-automatic Saiga 12 gauge.Beginners welcome - we will have several 22 rifles and pistol. Try one on for size!

For those into quieter things, there will be at least one compound bow.

If you do not want to shoot, alternate activities can be arranged. The horse stalls always could use some cleaning!

Additionally, kids are most welcome. If they get bored there will be fun farm things for them to do. Please note that there is no TV available. But there are horses, sheep and cows for kids to learn about.

White House seems to unrecognized Israel


Will Israel survive Ubama? Will we?


Monday, August 8, 2011

This Is Creepy

From the office of the mayor of Boston. Where is next?

**MEDIA ALERT** Military Training Exercises to Take Place In and Around Boston
For Immediate Release
July 25, 2011
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

Joint federal military training exercises will take place within and around the Boston area between July 26th and August 5th. Military personnel will conduct training exercises to ensure the military's ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements. Helicopters will be used in some exercises. [my emphasis]

The Boston Police Department is working with military personnel to coordinate training sites that will minimize negative impacts on our Boston citizens and their daily routines. Safety precautions have been taken to prevent risk to the general public and the military personnel involved. With that, training site locations are not open to the public and will be guarded by uniformed personnel to provide additional safety.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sharpening musings

I’ve had a thing for extra sharp edges on my knives for a long time, ever since I started cooking for myself. I find the challenging combination of working with steel (the knife), abrasive (a sharpening stone, crock stick etc) and the manual dexterity to hold the correct angle to develop an extra sharp just fun. I havegone from testing the edge by slicing through 81/2 by 11 paper to carefully slicing through tissues or paper towel. A slice of tomato so thin it's translucent also gets a good grade. A socially acceptable addiction - at least in some circles.

As my ability to produce a keen edge grew, so did my demands from whatever sharpening system I was using. I do not have the touch to work free-hand on sharpening stones and have used several different types of sharpening guides. I have used guided systems - these generally hold the knife and stones at an adjustable angle. I have used the Lansky System, and more recently the DMT Deluxe Alignment Kit. I have also used numerous ceramic rods in a base like the Spyderco system. I never got proficient at using the traditional Arkansaw stone on top of a workbench.

***Lansky in red, DMT in use and Spyderco Sharpmaker .***

They all did a great job putting on a sharp edge. At this point in time (which might change soon), I keep the Spyderco system on a kitchen counter as it excels at tuning up an already well sharpened edge. I prefer the DMT kit over both the Lansky system and the Spyderco for a few reasons. Both the Lansky and DMT kits are better than the Spyderco system to get a really dull blade back to ‘shaving arm hair off’ sharpness because they both align the angle(s) between the edge and the abrasive better than the Sypderco which relies on you holding the knife steady. The DMT kit has a round diamond rod for serrations, and the Spyderco system also sharpens serrations. The Lansky system requires the purchase of separate stones for serrations. For me, the DMT holds the advantage of diamond stones which don’t need oil and hence a whole lot less clean-up afterwards. One key to sharpening an edge to maintain the exact same angle with each pass over the abrasive stone which scrapes away the metal. The thinner the angle, the sharper the edge in a general way. However, a thinner angle often is weaker which means the edge is not durable, and through a number of mechanisms, becomes dull. You need to find the trade off between sharpness and durability. With some of the modern steels used in knives, that is not difficult.

These three systems did a fine job meeting my objective of a sharp edge for several years. Then I started to do more reading on sharpening. Lots more. Down to microphotographs of edges, various angles to sharpen (convex, Scandinavian, wedge, etc), the differences between diamond, stone and Japanese stones) and a bit of metallurgy. I was getting a bit extreme, and going into territory from sharp and functional to the pursuit of theoretical perfection. An offshoot of this intellectual digression was learning that I could sharpen a blade with crude stuff, concrete, a few different grits of sandpaper and a leather belt and I could get a more than serviceable edge, in fact a pretty damn sharp edge. This was long before any thoughts on prepping entered my distractible mind, somewhere along the lines of interesting and unique uses of duct tape.

There were many sources I read. With a bit a patience using google and separating the wheat from the chaff, there were several good articles. My two favorites are and I am not going to discuss the fine points of sharpening; the first reference does a far better job than I ever could and I strongly urge you to read it at least once if you ever plan to sharpen a knife. I got a bit lost at the discussion about planar geometry. There is an incredible amount of useful information in the first reference, and really cool electron scanning pics in the second. There are some incredible pics at (see below) but note the gentleman who writes this blog also makes the Wicked Edge sharpening system, which points out the possibility of bias, not the existence of bias. As for prepping. the ultimate basic kit to sharpen anything from an axe to a fighting knife is a few grits of sandpaper from coarse to to 600 or 1200 wet/dry. Stropping can accomplished using your pant's leg. In fact, unless you're prone to cutting yourself, take your sharpest knife and cut a piece of newspaper paying attention to the smoothness of the cut. Then strop the edge -again I am not liable if you manage to cut yourself - on your pant leg or other unusual but suitable surface, and slice the paper again. You should notice an improvement.

Microphotograph of a knife's edge. AKA 'knife porn'.

What all three systems lacked was exactness. Even using the metal base of the Lansky, there was some play in the guiding system, which meant some very minor variation when developing an angle. Same problem in the DMT kit, and it took awhile to develop even moderate consistency with the Spyderco. By the way, I have a few typical bench-top stones in the basement gathering dust; I was never able to develop the feel to use them well for anything except minor tune-ups. Despite the play in these systems, paper still sliced cleanly and translucent slices of vegetables were possible.

In any event, if you are happy with a sharp edge that may have theoretical flaws not apparent in use, the DMT and Lansky are top choices, followed by the Spyderco system. The DMT packs down into a surprisingly small and light kit (google DMT Deluxe Aligner Kit for prices -- I got mine awhile back at Sharpening which had agood price atthe time, fast delivery -- less than a week from placing the order, and great customer service). I don’t need to pack oil specifically for it as I would the Lansky system. The DMT kit is my BOB.

To feed my addiction, I researched some of the top end sharpeners, spending time at and similar. Those forums are dangerous places and do not be surprised if you end up reaching into your wallet for your credit card to order a new knife or two. There are many excellent ultra-top-end sharpeners (ie expensive!) and I found that I enjoyed reading comments, reviews and arguments (some are quite passionate defending their favorite method to say the least!) trying to read between the lines. It was time to hit up the old credit card and drop some money. No surprise there.

For about $90.00, I ordered a cool little microscope that hooks up to my Mac Book Pro and produce color pics up to 250x magnification. I at least look forward to my before, during and after pictures. I also ended up buying the Wicked Edge Pro Sharpening system. A flippen boatload of money, but I have learned cry once, buy once. I knew deep in my gut that I would end up with one because the mechanics appealed to me. There is a 6 - 8 week backlog which is gonna kill me, but they do give a 30% discount to make up for it. I will hopefully have become proficient at taking microphotographs of all the ‘before’ edges by the time it arrives. I'm really curious to view the edge on the ceramic blade of my newest knife; I have yet to see a microphotograph of a ceramic edge.

See lots more at the site. Lots of pics and links. Made in the USA.

Rationalizing is a wonderful defensive psychological process. I have rationalized that the monetary outlay will be compensated by (a) never getting a knife professionally sharpened again, (b) improving the type of edge on my knives, and hence the knife’s function and thus the working life-span, - some really should have the stronger convex edge, while others need a a double bevel edge, (c) after the balloon goes up and the practice of medicine has been reduced to the level found during the War Between the States, I can barter sharpening knives for whatever, and (d) I’m still working on this one.

So if you have an interest in learning about sharpening no matter what technique you use, please refer to the resources mentioned above.No matter what system you use to sharpen your edges, you will understand the theory better and probably sharpen better. Also expect some knife porn pics in 6 - 8 weeks. If we survive Ubama for that long.

Update 09 AUG 2011

My Spyderco ATR (a great knife) with a nick at 20 X and 400x. Not a 'closet queen', and ofter carried, and abused. The nick is seen with the unaided pretty easily, but it looks like a crater at 400x!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Ecozoom's Versa Stove

Please visit their website at They were kind enough to send me their Versa Stove for a review. They have several different stoves. The Versa Stove has thick ceramic insulation lining the steel walls and upper door.

The raison d'ĂȘtre of this stove system is to provide a more efficient and safer cook stove for third world users. If you surf around their website you’ll find some pics and videos of it in action.

Looking at the Versa stove from a prepper angle is similar but different - or is it different but similar? Depending on too many variables to count, a third world environment is likely to be encountered here sooner or later, whether it be a short term crisis or the long emergency. The Versa Stove fits in well to many situations. It comes securely packed in a hexagonal box. I remember reading somewhere that a hexagonal is perhaps the most efficie

nt use of space when packing stuff together. This eye for efficiency seems to run from design through packaging. Unfortunately, the product is made in China and I guess the boxes pack well on

the boat.

The first situation that popped in my head was one where the power grid is out and water supply is questionable. The Ecozoom folks stated you could start a fire with just the stuff laying around your yard. I put them to the test, and they passed. I picked up some twigs off the ground, from 1/8th inch diameter or so to about 1/2 inch. For kindling I found a piece of newspaper and used a Bic. Random twigs - some dry, some rotted, quickly caught. For the next fire, I shaved some twigs and feathered some of the dry ones for tinder and used a fire steel; the fire again started easily, there is a good updraft, the area is protected from capricious winds and also likely rain. There was a minimum of smoke. There would be little light signature using the stove compared to a campfire, especially when using the skirt, especially if using charcoal or chunk wood with the upper door closed.

The fire started easily with an excellent updraft inherit in the design and I was quickly using the thicker twigs. The “Stick Support” was very handy, far more useful than I had expected (see below for pic). The Stick Support allowed the use of longer twigs without having to break or cut them. It was reminiscent of making a campfire with 6 foot logs where just one end is placed in the fire and are pushed closer as the end burns. I forget where I learned this technique -- either in USAF SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape) training or from camping with more experienced folks. Once established, the fire quieted quickly to embers with the lower door closed and quickly developed flames when I opened the door all the way. The heat stays concentrated by the narrow chamber to the bottom of the pot. An adjustable metal skirt (not shown here) that fits between the heat-emitting flu and the pot further directs the heat to the bottom of the pot improving e

fficiency simultaneously allowing the use of a round bottomed pot.

Moderate amounts of water quickly came to a boil. Heating oil to fry foods should be easy but I haven’t tried that yet. Adjusting the heat by using the lower door will allow cooks to simmer foods.

Using charcoal was also easy and efficient. I did not do a direct comparison with my BBQ, but given the efficacy using random twigs and sticks, the Versa stove will likely do well.

It is an effective, low tech stove that can efficiently burn just about about anything.

It is not intended to replace a high tech, minimal weight cook-stove for mountaineering. On the flip side, the user isn’t dependent on bottled fuel and can use whatever is at hand. It weighs about 25 lbs and not intended for back-packing nor inclusion in a BOB [Bug Out Bag]. It does have a place in prepping. Again, in a situation where power is out and the water is tainted -- floods, storms and worse -- it will shine. It will burn a large variety of fuels -- from commercial charcoal or prepared fire wood to twigs and branches. It will efficiently cook just about anything that can be placed in a stew pot or frying pan. It is much more efficient than cooking over a campfire or BBQ. It has an appropriate spot in the garage or wherever your emergency kit is stowed.

At first I thought the that the stick support be constructed so that it can double as a grating to grill food but using a pot is far more efficient given the small but intense area of heat. The support will not be needed if using charcoal or dung (not tested) as fuel.

In this picture, note how handy the stick support is for twigs and sticks of variable lengths. As the fire burned, I just pushed them into the combustion chamber and adding new sticks was a no brainer. Also note the thick ceramic insulation on the upper door which comes more into play when using charcoal (or dung) and the door is closed. The ceramic insulation surrounds the entire combustion area but the sides do get hot. Again, the design is efficient, a few twigs in the combustion area, some tinder in the protected damper area where ashes latter accumulate, and I had about 2 cups of boiling water 7 minutes after the fire started (not established, but 7 minutes after the tinder caught). That’s fast. Nor would that amount of sticks have boiled anything when used as a camp fire. Boiling water in a ‘situation’ is very fuel intensive, the Versa Stove is an efficient method.

In the picture below (from their web site), the lower door is open and the fuel area is closed. This would be the set up for charcoal (or other concentrated fuel), and the lower door is open allowing a full updraft. If using sticks, the stick support would be in front of the upper door and the door would be open. As the sticks burn, simply feed them into the combustion area. Control temperature using the lower the door as a flu.


Pros: Easy to use - starting and maintaining a fire; multiple fuels; very efficient and effective; small light signature, little smoke.

Cons: Weight (no way around this one, but then, you have less need to transport fuel such as propane so it may be a wash); the twig support packs separately increasing possibility of loss.

One of their press releases follows. See also: and


Zoom Versa

Model Z-VMC26

EcoZoom's Zoom Versa stove, model ZV-VMC26, is versatile because it can burn wood, dried biomass or charcoal. You use the top door for wood and biomass and the bottom door for charcoal and to control airflow. Like the Zoom Dura, the Zoom Versa features an abrasion resistant and durable ceramic combustion chamber with a 10 cm in diameter vertical section that forces the gases to mix with the flame, decreasing harmful emissions and adds a refractory metal liner to the inside of the combustion chamber that protects the ceramic insulation, increases the life of your stove, and improves combustion efficiency. This stove features our new hinged combustion chamber doors enabling for an effortless conversion from wood to charcoal fuels. Both the main combustion chamber door and the damper door (bottom door) have reinforced metal frames and have hinges that serve to securely close the doors and regulate airflow. The Zoom Versa also has a durable, reformulated 6-pronged cast iron stovetop that improves heat transfer for all pots including round bottom pots and woks.



  • Stove: D-11 in H-12 1/2 in
  • Upper Door: W-4 1/2 in H-2 3/8 in
  • Lower Door: W-2 3/8 in. H-1 3/8 in


  • Shipping Weight: 26.75lbs / 12kg
  • Refractory metal combustion chamber
  • Abrasion-resistant, lightweight ceramic insulation
  • Two internal grates to hold both wood and charcoal
  • Two hinged doors
  • 6-pronged universal cast iron stove top
  • Stick support
  • Adjustable galvanized steel pot skirt
  • Painted sheet metal body with reinforced doors
  • Plastic and steel handle

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coming soon to your area: UAVs over your town

Vanguard Wins Bid to Supply Montgomery County with ShadowHawk UAS

Posted April 11

“I am pleased to announce that Montgomery County has been awarded a Department of Homeland Security grant for a ShadowHawk® UAV. We are very excited about the funding and looking forward to placing the equipment into the field. Both my narcotics and SWAT units have been looking at numerous ways to deploy it and I absolutely believe it will become a critical component on all SWAT callouts and narcotics raids and emergency management operations “.


Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

... and we all know nothing goes wrong on a no knock warrant, unless something does.

--- HT to LG

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sukkot Get Together....

Sukkot this year starts on 13 October and continues through 19 October. That includes the weekend of the 15th and 16th open for a truly unique way to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, on in this case, the feast of tents and bivys. OK, there will be also some beds for those who need them.

“... Sukkot are reminders both of Israel's agricultural history and of the Israelite exodus from Egypt.” (

Watching the decline of the dollar, the declines in Europe and here on many different fronts, has me thinking in the prepper mode. As such, a prepper way to celebrate Sukkot seems appropriate as agriculture may take a bigger part of life and that in turn may be preceded by an exodus of sorts.

How would you like to spend a weekend in the country on a farm to see how your gear works in the field, shoot a bit (yours or a borrowed firearm), try out a compound bow or perhaps a crossbow, and the like?

Instruction on some prepper basics will include kayaking, blade sharpening and use (do you know how to baton using your knife?), useful knots, fire craft, how to zero your pistol or rifle, precision shooting, milking a cow, butchering a ram, land navigation (compass use), camouflage techniques, and more. Suggestions appreciated for more. All activities are optional.

Bring your gear to test it out (MREs/food, solar rechargers, tents, sleeping bags, etc) and to see how others’ gear works in a ‘real life’ scenario. Got a machete? Wanna use it? Perhaps you want to sight in at 500 yards? How well can you start a fire using your fire steel? Get the idea?

The location is a small farm in Maine. We might be able to arrange a “shuttle” from/to the airport or Amtrack station. A quick look at Amtrack and tickets are under $100 one way.

Kid friendly, pets on a case by case basis, prior approval only.

Cost: Willingness to let others see your gear, maybe of your some MRE/freeze dried food for a taste test, and mostly good will. BYO food if you are kosher.