About fluidicice

Queensland, Australia.

Tiny House Development

Since the start of 2018 I’ve been interested in tiny houses thanks to Bryce from Living Big in a Tiny House. If you haven’t seen his channel he often uploads amazing spaces in breathtaking locations and describes how they reached their goal throughout the episode. His channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoNTMWgGuXtGPLv9UeJZwBw.

Housing
This got me thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, did I really want to end up borrowing over $300,000 and have to pay back something close to $500,000 over 30+ years? Not if I could help it! So I got thinking about how I would go about following my dream of living a life without debt, strings or paperwork and ended up at a tiny house on wheels to start me off. The alternatives were to rent forever which would be just as costly as borrowing, fitting out a small van with a bed much like this http://sean.cm/i/van-build/, or building a small house on a foundation.

The van idea was very enticing as you don’t need a hefty truck or ute to pull an entire house with which would cost a fair bit more. Also it’s much stealthier so you’re able to park basically anywhere and get away with it overnight as long as you don’t stay in the same place too long or people may start to ask – who’s that guy parked over the road, and what are they doing? Once the police know your number plate and what you’re doing in the van the game is pretty much over and they will keep an eye out for you.

So this brings me to a tiny house on wheels. I realized it would take quite a substantial amount of research, skills and equipment to get the house built so I set out to firstly understand what is required in a house. I watched every one of Bryce’s early videos on his channel where he develops his own house and gives a lot of vital information on design techniques, framing, sheeting, sheathing etc. There were a lot of other channels I took advice from such as Tiny Real Estate which is an Australian based channel which helped me understand the local laws and building requirements.

The next step I proceeded with was drawing up some plans of where I wanted rooms and storage. My preferred drawing program is Autocad as I have experience from using it back in school when learning Graphics. 3DS Max is also my preferred 3D program which I’ll model the house in to get a feel for how it will look and make adjustments to both the 2D and 3D versions from there to keep them both updated.

Tiny House
Fig1. – The Front Close View.

Size/Space

It has been difficult deciding how big I want the house keeping in mind towing requirements and how big a vehicle you need to tow it. At first I had a loft and a 6m house, then I changed it to having no loft to save space and maximum height requirements and then I added 1.2m to make it 7.2m total for a more spacious feel.

There was some trouble figuring out if I wanted a ladder or staircase to the loft and whether the loft should be entirely enclosed or just a higher platform above a room. The air conditioning will be confined to a space if there’s a ladder but I also didn’t want to have to climb a ladder if I was injured or sick every time I wanted to reach my bed. Finally I settled on a small staircase next to the kitchen which can also be used for storage as well as making it much easier to reach.

The size of the furniture was another point of angst as the IKEA furniture I had in mind had set dimensions and it’s difficult to fit in a tiny house unless that space is designed for it. This was the problem with my computer desk (IKEA – MALM) – as spacious as it is it would be difficult to maximise the corner space of the room, so I’m more leaning to a desk that can be flipped up or down and have fixed monitors to the wall.

Tiny House
Fig2. – The End View.

Design

I wanted rooms which could be sealed off for multiple reasons: 1. To keep the cold/warm air within that room when using heating or cooling. 2. To use as a private space to get away from my significant other if the desire arises (or vice versa). 3. To keep noise somewhat minimised between rooms.

This came with a few downsides: 1. The space doesn’t feel as open as conventional tiny houses which have a kitchen in the same space as the bedroom and loft. 2. It takes additional space from the house (12cm). 3. It has additional costs.

Because I added a staircase instead of a ladder to the loft there’s the problem of the loft not being sealed off. The loft has the main air conditioner mounted to the wall, it also will bear much of the heat from the sun through the roof in addition to being the highest point in the house where heat will accumulate. Therefore I’ve decided to add wooden flip-up flooring to the staircase to seal the room up at night which will slide out from the lofts floor framing just like a cavity door but horizontal.

The loft also has a double glazed skylight to watch the rain from and to give some extra lighting if you want to read a book up there. It will also give access to the roof to clean the solar panels and a point to stand up if desired. When I don’t want light coming in (at all) I thought of adding a scrolling blackout curtain which can be hooked and unhooked with ease to block 100% of the light.

Tiny House
Fig3. – The Ground Floor View.

Hobbies

It’s important to design your future home with your CURRENT hobbies in mind. It’s pointless to design a house saying you won’t need room for quilting because you’ll give it up when you build it. That’s just asking for trouble because at some point you will want a nice big floor space to be able to spread everything out on.

The hobbies I currently spend the most time on and which I will have in mind when building are:

1. Computing – Whether designing, music making, programming or gaming. Due to this I’m wanting to keep a similar setup to what I have now which consists of a small pc, 2 monitors a surround speaker setup and camera. This will mean I have a slightly larger and comfier pc space preferably with a view of outside from the screens and the option to close the curtains and remove glare in necessary. There’s also room for a wireless network to support using the internet from a laptop in the loft if desired.

2. Photography – Most of this is done outdoors in the serenity of nature which means it only requires the space for camera storage as I already have a designated location for editing photos at a computer. I could also use my laptop in the loft if my significant other has work to do on the desktop. Super macro photography is something I enjoy as well but which is generally done indoors under strong lights, so I may have to keep thinking about where I will do that.

3. Entertaining – This isn’t generally done in a tiny house due to the home being built for you to live in. But kudos to the guy who loved spa baths so much he built an outdoor one onto his tiny house’s back porch. You can add anything you want to a tiny house as long as you can make it fit. So I’ve added a room with surround sound, 40 inch tv and an additional fold out bed for use by guests if they want to stay the night. I want to be sure that it will get the use from it before adding it to the house however.

4. Poi Spinning – This requires a lot of space so outside is the obvious choice and no alterations need to be made in the house. It’s basically spinning LEDs or fire around your body in patterns.

Remember that even outdoor hobbies can affect the layout of the home. An example being surfing because you still need somewhere to store your board when not in use, unless you want it rained on.

Tiny House
Fig4. – The Loft View.

Power

Due to all the electronics in the house and my desire to be off grid it’s essential to have enough to last me about 5 hours computing time (in addition to all other power requirements) each day. I went around and measured the power usage of all my commonly used appliances to see how much they drew and then calculated how much power I would need if I ran them for the typical time I used them during a day.

The results were rather surprising, a few items used MUCH more power than I thought they would such as my sandwich press coming in at about 1000w and some were far under what I expected such as my Nintendo 64 at 5w. Doing this helped me understand my power requirements day-to-day and what I will need to fill and surpass those requirements. Noting that the sun isn’t always out I had to calculate a fair excess of solar for what my needs would be for those overcast days. Luckily sun is ample here in Queensland also known as the Sunshine State.

I probably couldn’t get away with running my electronics as much as I wanted, so depending on how things go I may have to add another batch of solar panels on the ground somewhere. My aim is to use 12v DC where I can in the house particularly for lighting and fans and an inverter for 240v for everything else like the air conditioner. I had a look at solar powered air conditioners and am still deciding if they are right for my build.

Tiny House
Fig5. – The Front Far View.

That’s about all for this post, I’ll keep you updated when it’s progressed a fair amount.

Tiny House
Fig6. – The Front View.

The Conflict Between Preparedness and Minimalism

Is it possible to be both a prepper and a minimalist? At first glance it doesn’t seem like it. Preppers often stockpile mountains of food, water, barter items and supplies which they believe will be required in a time of disaster. This flies directly in the face of minimalism where people try to have as few possessions as possible – typically under 100 items or a single backpack of gear.

Minimalism is about leaving behind a materialistic lifestyle where we live pay-check to pay-check irrelevant of the amount we’re making. Because we’re making more money on promotion we take this new found financial opportunity and stability to upgrade our household items faster, getting that new TV we’ve been waiting to buy and storing the other in another room for the kids. Eventually over a few years of this most families end up with countless electronics, furniture, heirlooms and toys and this is where the minimalism lifestyle comes in.

It seems like two incompatible lifestyles, but I’m giving it a try anyway and logging my findings over multiple posts as I learn more via experience. My theory is that if I have a single backpack of preparedness products I can count that as a single minimalist item, especially if stored out of sight and mind but still easy to reach.

This is where things get a bit difficult as a few of the items included in the BOB may have some overlap between daily use ones such as cutlery, portable stoves and utensils. You’re trying not to double up on items you own, but you also want everything in one backpack which is quick to grab in the event a catastrophic disaster arises. It’s a real pain to take items from the bag, use them, wash and dry them then return them to the bag every use, not to mention that you may have to do some digging to find them in the first place. Due to this I’ve chosen to keep a duplicate item in the backpack so I can just grab it and go if needed and not waste precious moments looking for what I’ve taken out – which could be the difference between life and death.


The ultimate aim of minimalism is to spend less and have the freedom to travel more without being weighed down by all your “stuff”. Therefore if you own something but aren’t attached to it and are prepared to give it up at the drop of a hat you can just abandon it and re-purchase a new one when you’re at your new location. This is the loophole I’m going to use, and as long as they’re neatly stored away they shouldn’t be included in the minimalism item count. Out of sight, out of mind.

Currently it’s only me living alone so I’ll only need enough food for myself to last about 2 months – which is 8x 12.5L decor storage containers. Each of these has on average 18 cans of food in them coming out to about 2.5 cans a day. In a tiny house this will be fairly easy to conceal within a pantry. Having a farm can drastically reduce the amount of food you require if your house is your Bug Out Location (BOL), just be sure to have enough stored for the harsher months.

Water is a little easier especially if you have a quality water filter which has a long lifespan and a river or lake nearby. There should be at least a week of drinking water on hand or a large water tank nearby.

Nothing can replace knowledge in a disaster and knowing how to acquire food and water during a disaster is vital to keeping your item count to a minimum. More Knowledge = Less Things.

There will have to be some form of compromise between prepping and minimalism. You can’t have that huge underground pantry with every type of food imaginable, not only is it more vulnerable to theft and disasters but you become attached to it and won’t want to leave if the situation demands. At least with a few storage boxes of food and portable water you can load up your vehicle and get out within 15 minutes. You can’t just grab a pantry shelf and throw it in the car, you’d have to put everything into boxes first and then load the car.


Preppers can also have a BOL in another part of the country stocked with food and other resources which they flee to in a disaster. This is another plausible idea which demands less carried survival items on you all the time. You just need to have enough food, water and fuel for 3 days to get you to your shelter – as you can get almost anywhere in a country (by car) in 3 days if you’re determined.

A final solution similar to the BOL would be storing smaller caches underground at various locations around the country with about a weeks worth of food and water inside. Or perhaps you could hire storage locations and fill them with supplies. Even if they are broken into pre-disaster, who would want to steal 1,000 cans of food and water? You could also offer your family / friends some money to keep some supplies in a corner of their house for you, you don’t even have to tell them what you’re storing if you wish – as long as you express it’s not illegal substances and that the items aren’t worth much.

Being prepared doesn’t mean “having a lot of stuff” stored for use in a disaster, that’s only a small part of the equation. The other parts of preparedness is preparing mentally, preparing physically, having contacts and like-minded people, gaining skills, gaining knowledge and gaining experience. It’s a culmination of these things that creates the ultimate prepper. The unskilled, unintelligent and ill-prepared people who need spoon feeding from pre-stocked cans of food, the real preppers can acquire all these from the wild foraging, farming and hunting.

The Path to Minimalism

Lately I’ve been binge watching everything I could find on YouTube about the minimalism lifestyle after my girlfriend mentioned my – let’s just say “untidy habits” and the collections of stuff and preps that I have in my rooms.

Let’s be clear, I don’t own a house and am currently renting 2 bedrooms where I keep everything from my stove, fridge, bed, computer system, cutlery, BOB’s and my stocks of food and water for disasters. It’s quite the collection if I’m honest, however the “stuff” on the floor was kind of getting old. There was a point where I couldn’t even see the floor – but not because of a lack of tidiness but moreso the lack of storage options and furniture.

I’m not even an untidy person, being an OCD clean freak it’s a strange kind of “untidy”. I know where everything is but due to a lack of storage all the gear I own is in it’s own storage location – on the floor.

Over the weekend I have been busy head down in my rooms picking up one item at a time and deciding:

Decisions
• Do I need this to survive?
• Do I have an emotional attachment to this item?
• When have I last used this item?
• Is it a tool?
• Is it worth selling?

Then I put it into a pile based on what I wanted to do with it, those piles are as follows:

The Seven Piles
• A keep pile
• A rubbish pile
• A sell pile
• A give away pile
• A take to work pile (or other location)
• A decide later pile
• A “to digitize” pile

The keep pile is for all the items I have strong attachments to, currently use weekly or that I will use in the future for sure – such as my preps. (Debatable that that will be used, but still…)

The rubbish pile is for items that I don’t need and is just considered clutter or those items that haven’t been used in months.

The sell pile contains items that are worth some money that I wish to get rid of and make a little back on. Remember that if you can’t sell them after trying you should just give them away or throw them out and not just believe you’ll try again at some point in the future.

And the give away piles are for items in decent quality that someone else might like to own. It also feels good to donate items to people in need and you know that the item will have another life away from home.

The take to work pile means I store the items at work – these generally include items which I have to keep for 7 years such as travel receipts, medical certificates, excess food I can eat at work and a few other small items.

The decide later pile is for complex items which requires more thought as I try to go through the pile of items as fast as possible so I don’t well up feelings and attachment for them again.

The “to digitize” pile is for cards, documents, certificates or nostalgic items from past events which I want to remember but I don’t need the physical item, therefore I take a picture of it and discard the item.


Sorting
While going through my items I found there were a lot of tough decisions and I found myself picking up the same item multiple times because I couldn’t decide on it. My mistake was having a “decide later” pile which I had to keep going through to whittle it down to nothing again, but unfortunately most of that pile ended up as keep… for now.

The most difficult item to get rid of is my Obutto R3volution gaming desktop which is tremendously heavy, large and hard to dismantle. Not only that but my screens and pc are extremely embedded with it with cables intertwined around it and the screens screwed to the stand. I hope I can sell it as the buttkickers (which add a level of vibration to the seat and footrest) are probably worth a fair $500.

Over the time I have been cleaning up I feel the weight literally fall off as I throw each additional bag in the bin and sigh with relief. It gets much easier the more you clean and feel like you’re making a dent in all your possessions, and it inspires you to continue and become more critical with your decision making.

Just a note – buy the extra heavy duty garbage bags so they don’t break open when you lift them. I’m so glad I bought these as my other bags were getting holes in them and were beginning to split open before I bagged them in the heavy duty ones, because I own a lot of sharp electronics.

At the end of the weekend I ended up with 4 bags of items I could throw out – some were even electronics that I had never used such as a 4 port switch. Fortunately for me I don’t have any really strong attachments to most of my items except a few of my electronics due to their multifunction nature such as my phone – which I would never throw away unless I had a replacement anyway.

Aim
My aim is to have two backpacks worth of camping / preparedness gear, one suitcase worth of clothing / electronics, one storage container of misc gaer such as power tools (to build my tiny house with), cables for my pc, pens, paper and books and finally 8 or so food storage containers which contain a weeks worth of food for 1 person each which I will be storing in my tiny house when it’s complete.

I also have a few large items such as a typical king size bed, a folding camping bed, a tent, a swag, two fans, an air conditioner and a few small pieces of portable furniture. I hope to remove the small pieces of furniture when I’m near the end of my cleaning but there’s a lot of items I can’t really make a decision on due to it being preparedness based such as my camo net.

My absolute aim is to have one “Mazda 2” sized car load of stuff I own and nothing more – which will require me to cut out a large amount of the furniture and remove the bed entirely. Another motive for reducing the amount of things I have is simplicity, happiness and being able to fit it all into my tiny house, as well as not being fixed to one location and I can pick up and go within 1 hour if required in an emergency.

I will be blogging a more detailed article on how one can be both a prepper and a minimalist at the same time even though upon first glance they may appear to be complete opposites. Preparedness is about stocking up on everything you will need in the future and minimalism is about having only what you need at the current point in time and nothing more.

Choosing a BOB/Camping Cookware Set

It’s an arduous task to decide on a cookware set for your bug out bag which is minimalist, lightweight and easy to clean. There are so many options today that it’s easy to get carried away and bring too much gear you won’t even use.

I don’t know about you but I buying love a nice new shiny pot which I aim to take everywhere and use as my primary cooking pot on every trip. But often it’s used once and pushed to the back of the cupboard in anticipation of new cookware. If you stick with one piece of gear it becomes part of you and the more you use it the more skill you have with it and over time it shows its age and develops character. If you own a collection of pots as I do it becomes a problem of which one to take, how many you should pack in your bag before it becomes overkill and how well they stack.

Below is a simple guide for choosing an encompassing set of cookware for every need, because every person is different so your gear will differ.

Cookware Uses
The first question you come across is what will you be using the pot(s) for? It’s essential that you have at least one form of steel pot in the wild to complete the various tasks over the fire you’ll need to accomplish. Every scenario is different and you may need to cook larger chunks of meat which is difficult to complete without a large frying pan. Generally however you will have canned or freeze-dried meals which should easily fit into any modern steel cookware unit.

Requirements
• Food Cooking – Something to eat from and cook on
• Water Boiling – Something to drink from and boil water on
• Cooking Pan – A pan to cook larger meats or hunted game on
• Cup – An (insulated) cup to drink from

Food Cooking
The eating and cooking one is obvious as you will definitely need a way to warm up and cook food, and you can eat out of the same pot to save weight. Freeze dried meals require water to be boiled beforehand which you could then add the food to the water or add the water to the package and still only use one pot.

Titanium pots have a tendency to get hot in one area and spread the heat less effectively than aluminium or steel but are very lightweight and the same strength as stainless steel. Cast iron is extremely heavy and is not recommended for your BOB, but they are handy if you’re just camping as long as they are seasoned properly. Aluminium has a low melting pot and could melt if left directly on a fire for too long so I don’t recommend it, however it does cook foods evenly. Stainless steel is my preferred option of pot due to even cooking of foods, a solid feel to it and it won’t rust, but it’s moderately heavy depending on how thick it is. It should last the longest out of all of the other metals as well.

Do not pick ordinary kitchen cookware as flames melt anything that’s not metal on them and basically renders them unusable. This has happened to a friend of mine while camping where even the top of the billy’s lid which was plastic melted away in a fire.

Your cooking pot should be small enough for a 1 serve meal with not much space left over as the efficiency of heat will drop sharply as the pot gets bigger. This occurred to friends of mine while we were camping who brought a 10L pot aimed at cooking both their meals at once. They filled it with water and rice and tried to cook it over a canister gas flame in 5 degree Celsius temperatures. I even grabbed my flambĂ© torch, attached it to another gas canister and tried to heat it up at the same time… but to little effect. Basically the water got warm and never boiled so they had to eat undercooked rice.

There’s a lot of “done it for you” cookware sets out there which are aimed at campers and picnic’ers which often include everything including the kitchen sink. These types of sets often have many items that are overly heavy for their purpose or that come in sets designed for X amount of people, half of which you may never use. I once bought a Stanley cookware set which came with two green insulated cups inside which fitted quite snugly and allowed no space for anything else. However when removed I could fit a gas cylinder, gas stove, cleaning brush and a spork inside which is much more useful then two cups.

Water Boiling
You’ll likely need to boil water throughout your trip at one point or another and a container that can withstand the temperature and hold enough water is vital. After boiling you’ll generally pour the water into your bottle after it had cooled a little for drinking at another time, as well as for preventing the transferral of remaining bacteria from the outside of the pot to your stomach if you used the same pot to obtain the water.

I highly recommend a pot with both handles on the side and one on top so you can pick it up with both a stick and your hands to drink from it normally. What I’ve found while camping is that it’s certainly a pain to try and pour the boiling water into another container without touching it with your hands, and a top handle with a small spout on the side is very helpful to prevent spilling the precious liquid.

Having a 1L pot will keep boiling times fairly low and provide you with enough water to top up most plastic bottles, you can also disinfect water easier in a 1L pot using tablets then having to measure it out or estimate 1 litre. Water boiling requires the steam to escape unless you want an epic explosion, so be sure to have a vent of some kind on your container otherwise the lid may pop off and fall into the fire.

Cooking Pan
A pan would be recommended if your bug out plan consists of hunting your own game and preparing it for consumption. A pot simply won’t be large enough and won’t cook very evenly unless it’s cut up into small pieces and stirred often. It’s also easier to reach into a pan and cooking things like eggs and sausages also becomes difficult if you have to reach into a tall container with a spork – believe me I’ve tried it. Look for a pan with a long handle and if possible a metal loop over the top to make it easier to grab when in a fire. You could add a metal handle yourself with a simple drill if it doesn’t come with one.

Cup
A metal cup could be useful in your BOB if it fits snugly inside or around another item to save maximum space. I personally have an Olicamp cup which fits around my plastic 1L Nalgene bottle that I use often, sometimes to cook on as a backup as it fits about 600ml. Mine has folding handles to save a bit more space and weight.

Combinations
It’s possible to combine some of the cookware together like as the eating and water boiling pot but this could lead to difficulties later and will require cleaning after every use, not to mention you won’t be able to have a cup of coffee while you are enjoying a hot meal without another form of cup or pot. But if minimalism and a light backpack is what you’re aiming for then this could work.

Stacking containers such as canteens which combine a pot with a bottle are commonplace for the army as they can easily be put together to save a lot of space. The downside is that you aren’t able to fit a gas stove, gas canisters, spork and the cleaning brush inside of it so they are better used for open fires.

If you’ll be cooking on gas, ideally the cookware container should be large enough to fit:
• Gas Stove
• Gas Canister
• Cleaning Cloth/Brush
• Eating Utensil

Doing so will save a little more space in your bag but not as much as an open fire cooking situation.

Special Requirements
Are you a gourmand which absolutely must have an array of pots and pans for every situation? You may be able to take a lot of cookware in your BOB but is it really worth the effort? Bugging out is very different to camping. You can basically take as much gear as you can fit into your car and it’s a recreational activity which is meant to be enjoyed. The other is meant to be a life or death situation and it will really put a “damper” on things if you’re lugging around 2kg of cookware gear. I find it so hard to leave behind my cookware as well, but it’s all for the greater good in the end.

Summary
In the end I decided I’m going to carry two primary cookware pots with what I can stack around and in them as a bonus. I’ll also have a Nalgene stackable cup which will essentially take up no extra space and give me a nice cup to drink from as well as an emergency cooking pot if necessary.

My Cookware:
• 1 stainless steel kidney shape canteen
• 1 stainless steel kidney shape pot which stacks on the canteen. Some come with a lid.
• 1 stainless steel billy-style pot 900ml (30.4oz) containing cooking gear, stove etc. Comes with a lid.
• 1 Olicamp Cup which fits snugly around my nalgene bottle

The canteen cup will be my primary bowl and fits nicely over the base of the canteen. Some brands come with an extra lid for the cup to keep in the steam and cook food faster which is a great option if you need it.

This setup lets me boil a nice amount of water in the kettle and doubles as an eating container and is very effective over a fire due to the extra hanging handle on top. I only wish it was a full 1L to fill my 1L nalgene bottle in one boil. Although generally the manufacturer underestimates the full capacity of these things so they can’t be sued so it’s probably closer to 1L.

The final component is my cup which I use for scooping water as well as filtering water into and the obvious uses such as drinking tea and coffee. I’ve used it for cooking Frankfurts before but it was difficult due to the height of the cup.

I hope this has helped you make an informed decision on selecting your cookware for bug out situations, or even when camping.
Leave a message if you have a question about anything.

Concealed Storage

When you’ve accumulated a lot of valuables in your house such as spare cash or precious metals you begin to run into the problem of where to store it, the most common way to store them would be in a safe or small vault of some kind. These are quite hard to break into if made of solid metal, however it’s extremely obvious to any criminal. I looked into storing my valuables inside disguised products such as the below Heinz Can of beans, it’s inconspicuous on the outside but has quite a nice amount of space inside for about 30 oz of silver and a lot of paper notes as well to prevent rubbing on the inside.

Heinz Beanz Tin
Fig1. – The Heinz Beanz Tin.

But open up the bottom…

Heinz Beanz Tin Interior
Fig2. – The inside of the Tin.

There’s quite a lot of different designs you can buy, I purchased mine off Ebay from Britian and noticed a tomato soup can, spaghetti can, a dictionary, coke can, a fake candle and even a fake rock for storing things outside which is probably more fitting for a key. It costed me $30 AUD and you could make your own for cheaper quite easily by hollowing out any common object.

It would be best to also have a safe in your cupboard with semi-valuable items in it to trick criminals into believing they have the best loot.

Silver Coin Stockpile

Lately I’ve been slowly adding to my silver stockpile due to the low (relative) prices this year. Currently it’s at $16.16 USD on the 27th June 2018 and dropping which is quite below its mean of $16.50 but not by much.

Some of the uses of silver include:
• Bartering
• Water Purification (Kind of)
• Colloidal Silver (For Health Issues)
• Antibacterial

Remember that either way you look at it, silver will always be an investment and you can sell it later on for almost the same amount if you need some quick cash.

Gold is useful as well to store large amounts of cash, but there’s not a lot you can buy with that much money in a SHTF scenario. Most of your transactions will be small change for cans of food, water and survival gear – which you should already have stocked. Currently Gold is at $1253.74 USD which is a little lower than average but then again gold has fewer uses than silver in a survival situation. However it is worth it to have at least one oz of gold handy.

Cash on the other hand will depreciate very quickly in a disaster, people will soon realize this piece of paper isn’t worth the value written on it by the Federal Reserve and value will shift back into valuable metals which can’t simply be printed into existence. When this occurs the three most valuable entities in the world will be Materials/Possessions, Precious Metals/Gems and Skills/Experience.

Don’t forget to keep your valuables safe and secure in a hidden location either in a safe, under floorboards, at the back of a wardrobe or buried in the back yard. You could perhaps find some extremely strange places to store valuables too, such as inside a hot water tank where it will not only stay safe but slowly purify your water. The only problem with that is getting them in and out but at least you won’t be inclined to spend them.

Nalgene Sipper Lid

I’m always on the look out for new little products to buy that will improve my life while camping and lately I found this little gem.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig1. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

It lets you insert it into a typical wide mouth Nalgene bottle to make it easier to drink from. I agree it was a problem I faced with such a wide mouth on a bottle, which is inconvenient to drink from – especially when on the move.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig2. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

It stacks with my Pillid stackable lid as well to allow easier sipping and storage of water treatment options. I love the Nalgene bottles overall with their unbreakable Tritan material and “modding” options for their merchandise. They are only a few dollars on ebay, however currently not many people sell it so it may be hard to acquire one.

Nalgene Sipper Lid
Fig3. – The nalgene sipper on a bottle.

Estwing Sportsman 14″ Hatchet Oiling

Recently I’ve been looking at a small lightweight hatchet to buy for my INCH bag and came across this little gem. It’s a 14 inch hatchet, weighing 1.86 pounds (0.84 Kg) made of decent 1055 steel and looks like it would do cut small branches pretty decently.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig1. – The unmodified axe.

I picked one up knowing the only real flaw was the coating on the handle with the intent to follow the guidelines of the user below, who recommended stripping the coating and applying your own.

It requires a bottle of neatsfoot oil and a couple of sheets of sandpaper to get the desired result of a weatherproof, better feeling handle which will cope well in damp conditions.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig2. – Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil and the Axe.

The whole comment from Amazon is quoted below:

This is the real deal!
December 31, 2012
A. Swenson

I don’t write many reviews but this little gem deserves one. Proudly made in the USA since 1923, this is the same fine tool your granddad bought, with the same high quality forging and rugged leather grip. Properly used and cared for it will stand up to several lifetimes of hard use. I recently bought a spare from Amazon and this review is based on that item.

A couple of observations/recommendations: I note one reviewer whose hatchet handle rotted. Well yeah. As these come from the factory the handle is given a glossy varnished finish and the stacked leather grip underneath is very dry. It looks nice when it’s new but the varnish will crack and chip with use, and then the grip will absorb water like a sponge, ruining the leather. Thus, knowledgable sportsmen have long looked fondly on that glossy factory finish and then taken a couple of sheets of 100-grit sandpaper and sanded it off. Mask off the metal part of the shaft of the handle, no point in scratching that up, but do round off the sharp edge of the metal washer at the base of the handle to make it more comfortable in use. Be sure to get all the varnish off, the leather underneath will look almost white when you’re done sanding. 100 grit is fine, there’s no need to finish with finer grades.

Then get a bottle of Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil (available at Amazon!) and rub it in. If you didn’t get all the varnish off you’ll immediately notice light spots where the oil isn’t soaking in, stop and sand those off. You’ll be amazed at how much oil that leather grip will absorb, my new one has taken at least an ounce of oil and it’s still sucking it up. It will take several applications over several days to do a thorough job — the idea is to completely saturate the leather grip — just slather it on with a fingertip at first and then rub it in after a couple of days’ applications. Put some on the sturdy leather sheath they provide while you’re at it. The neatsfoot will give the grip a nice antique brown finish and a slightly sticky, non-slip feel, and once the grip is thoroughly saturated it will be nearly impervious to the elements *forever*. I have hunting knives and another old Estwing hatchet that were given this treatment by my dad and grandfather before I was born — that was a long time ago — the grips have turned black over the years but they’re still as sound as the day they were made and they’ve seen a lot of weather over the years.

Then get a Lansky “puck” dual grit sharpener (also available at Amazon!) and sharpen the blade. They come dull, probably for product liability reasons it will only be as sharp as you’re capable of making it, but it will take a fine edge with a little effort. Then avoid chopping it into the ground, rocks, or what have you — it will take you several patient hours to put the initial edge on the blade and all that effort will be wasted if you whack it against a rock. The blade should never touch anything but the wood it’s made to cut.

Learn to split kindling safely by taking a 1-2′ piece of wood 2-3″ in diameter, holding it by one end pointed away from you and resting the other end parallel to the ground across a larger piece of wood. Split the far end by chopping through it sideways into the chopping block and then giving the hatchet and the wood a deft twist to split it lengthwise (a glove on your off-hand isn’t a bad idea). Repeat with each half until you have enough kindling. Whatever you do, don’t try to hold a piece of kindling on end and split it lengthwise lumberjack-style, that’s a good way to lose a finger or chop yourself in the knee.

Guys, this is a tool every manly man should treat himself to and learn to use! There’s darn few things in this world that are the same high quality they were 90 years ago but this is one of them.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig3. – The stripped coating.

Following his comments to the letter I went ahead and stripped the handle of the current coating with sandpaper which took a few days with about 30 minutes per day. I was sure to cover the metal with tape to prevent scratching it up.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig4. – Applying the oil.

When the handle was clear of coating I then used my fingers to apply and rub oil into the handle for about 20-25 coats, applying 3 or so per day. The oil was readily absorbed and looks great on the handle, giving it a deep, rich appeal. The following day I applied three more coats and left it to dry again.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig5. – The last coat applied but still wet.

After the last coat was applied and left to dry it has a lovely leather feel to it compared to the tough plastic feel previously.

Estwing Hatchet Amazon Link

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig6. – The completed axe with the coatings.

PVC Pipe Cache

Lately I’ve been getting into DIY prepper projects such as making my own char cloth and modifying my gear to better serve me. But this week I’ve been buying and cutting PVC pipe to store valuables inside which I can then bury along roads or notable landmarks to preserve my assets if I need to leave. The locality and reasoning for burying caches won’t be covered today – only the process to create one of these pipe caches.

PVC Cache
Fig1. – The pipe cache using 100mm pvc.

You can select any sized pipe you wish, I’ve tried with 10cm and 4cm piping and it turned out well in both cases. I would recommend 10cm piping if you are storing a lot, or 4cm if you are storing specific items such as silver and gold coins. The completed cache should be waterproof and store underground indefinitely without degradation.

PVC Cache
Fig2. – What you will need.
PVC Cache
Fig3. – The priming and bonding agents.

Materials
• PVC pipe of any size and length you want, but it has to have a stopper end and a screw end with a screw stopper (unless you want to break it to access it)
• PVC Pipe Stopper
• PVC Pipe Screw End
• PVC Pipe Threaded Stopper
• A PVC pipe cutting tool such as hacksaw or specialized PVC cutter
• A file and sandpaper or disc sander (or cement) if you used a hacksaw
• PVC bonding primer
• PVC bonding glue (Either normal or pressure rated)
• Small Paintbrush for applying primer or two if the glue doesn’t include one
• A permanent marker which can write on plastic
• Ruler or Tape Measure
• Heavy object to hit the glued pieces together

Building
1. Firstly cut the pipe to the size you want ensuring it will fit everything you want inside. Generally there will be slightly more room than the volume of the pipe (without the ends on) to play with.

PVC Cache
Fig4. – Cutting the pipe.

2. If you cut with a hacksaw or other blade ensure the surface is flat and free of burrs. Use sandpaper, disc sander, a file or cement to square it off and clean up the edge. Cement acts as an unlikely disc sander if you rub it backwards and forwards along it and flattens it slowly if you keep it at 90 degrees. You only get minor damage to the cement. Once the ends are square and clean from any debris, burrs and dirt continue to step 3.

PVC Cache
Fig5. – The burrs on the cut pipe.
PVC Cache
Fig6. – The smoothed cut edge.

3. Apply the primer to the surface of both joining surfaces. Paint the inside and out of the join ensuring you don’t over-paint the section other than what will overlap. You don’t need to be swift with this step.

PVC Cache
Fig7. – Applying the primer.

4. (MAKE SURE ONLY THE END YOU ARE CONNECTING IS ON THE PIPE – Otherwise you will hammer them together and then realize it’s impossible to pull the un-glued section off) Prepare the pieces and have your heavy hammering item nearby. Apply the glue to both surfaces quickly being careful not to apply too much or too little glue, then quickly push them together and then hammer them together with your heavy item so they are snug.

PVC Cache
Fig8. – Applying the glue.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 to the other end but ignore the comment in step 4 about only having one end connected.

PVC Cache
Fig9. – The fairly clean bond on the inside.
PVC Cache
Fig10. – The very clean bond at the bottom.

6. Let the glue dry for 24 hours and you will have a completed PVC cache!

PVC Cache
Fig11. – Testing the fit of a silver coin in a 40mm pipe.
PVC Cache
Fig12. – An unglued 40mm cache.

Darche Superdome Review

Last year I purchased a Darche swag after a careful consideration of the features I wanted, like a conservative size and green-ish colour to blend in with the environment as well as room for my camping backpack inside while sleeping. I would be using it for regular camping trips as well as a bugging out if the need arises.

Darche Superdome
Fig1. – The set up Darche Superdome on a camping trip.
Darche Superdome
Fig2. – The packaged swag.

Setting Up
Upon receiving the swag I immediately set it up outside which only took 15 minutes for the first time. The poles felt like they would snap given how much tension they are under when bent, but overall they seem to have been designed for it and they are going strong. I then had a good inspection of it for any faults before dousing it with water to prime the canvas material. Soaking it binds the fibres together more tightly to decrease the chance of rain getting between them and should always be done before using canvas swags. I soaked it two times thoroughly on all sides before hopping in to check for any leaks but thankfully there weren’t any drops in the inside. After letting it dry completely I then pulled the vacuum packed mattress out of the bag and let it expand to 5 times its size.

Darche Superdome
Fig3. – The swag set up to test for leaks.
Darche Superdome
Fig4. – Priming the swag.

The Swag
I love every part of the design of this swag, someone obviously spent a good deal of time working out what should go where and improving the previous versions. Some notable features are the mosquito nets on both entrances, the incredibly easy to move zippers and the little clip at the top to hold a torch or lantern.

The Max-Treme ripstop canvas thickness is very heavy duty coming in at 16oz and 600gsm for the PVC floor. The mesh is 125gsm and compliments the heavy duty nature of the rest of the swag. I would say it feels slightly more flexible then fly-screen mesh. I don’t see anything happening to damage this swag when out on the field from animals trying to get in to branches falling on the top, you’ll surely be safe and snug inside. The downside for all this strength is the weight which is a hefty 13.9 Kg. Not something you should bug out with, especially with the mattress. I will exchange the mattress for an inflatable one when bugging out as it takes up so much space in a car or especially a bike. Valuing the methodical construction of the swag and it’s durability I see it as a valuable investment to my prepping supplies as it will likely last a lifetime.

Darche Superdome
Fig5. – View from the inside of the swag.

I would have preferred canvas loops for the poles instead of the black clips to improve the strength and rigidity of the structure, but then it may be a little harder to set up. Another reason why I prefer it is to conceal the outline of the swag further as currently there are obvious black loops going around the outside which may make it easier to spot when wild camping.

There’s a decent amount of space inside even with the mattress. I’m quite thin myself so I slept with my bag beside my torso and still had enough space to roll during the night. I felt headroom was lacking a little and it would be nearly impossible to turn around or get dressed inside when you’re all zipped up. It’s definitely only a 1 person swag, although if pressed and faced with certain death, you could fit two people in if you leave your gear outside the swag.

Darche Superdome
Fig6. – The other side of the swag also showing the front.
Darche Superdome
Fig7. – The base of the swag.

Colour
The colour scheme is very similar to what I was looking for, something to blend the swag into the environment to help stay hidden when bugging out or when simply stealth camping. There is however a large “Darche” logo on the front of the swag in a med-bright orange which is actually the opposite colour to the main green of the swag thus making it very obvious to people. I will attempt to paint over it in a green paint to at least lessen the colour to a degree because it’s vital to remain hidden from the sight of others when surviving in a foreign location. The guy ropes are also the same bright orange but these can easily be replaced with green ones if you require.

Darche Superdome
Fig8. – The fabric and stitching.
Darche Superdome
Fig9. – The front of the Superdome wit the flaps open.

The Mattress
The mattress feels very nice, it’s a luxury size and gives plenty of room for movement inside the swag even though it reduces head space by 5cm as you sink into the mattress about 2cm. It fits perfectly inside the swag except for the end where there’s about 7cm of free space remaining. This could be beneficial however as it gives you more storage space for items inside. The foam inside the mattress cover had a half-tennis ball sized concave indent the whole width of one end, but that’s no biggie as you can just flip it over or use it at the feet end.

Softness wise, it’s a bit harder than a regular mattress – depending on what you’re used to. It does provide a nice amount of rigidity for your back and I would say it’s definitely better then lying on an inflatable mattress. I felt the mattress lacked a certain softness overall, like it needed a convoluted eggshell layer on the top to feel like a regular mattress – even with a sleeping bag under me. Knowing that this isn’t supposed to feel exactly like a real mattress it did a great job simulating it. If the mattress was half as rigid I believe it would be a nice mix of softness and rigidity as well as being more portable. Which brings me to one negative point – the size. It comes very well vacuum packed in a reasonable size about 35cm diameter and 90cm long. However when expanded it becomes a large 90x210x7cm. I loved how it didn’t make any squeaking or typical “air mattress” sounds when trying to sleep like my inflatable mattresses did on the PVC bucket floor.

Preparedness Categories
Fig10. – Inside of the superdome when closed up.
Darche Superdome
Fig11. – The attached small paqlite to the hook inside the swag.

Other Features
One important feature I like is the ability of having two entrances, one in the top and one in the front. The one in the front can be used as a prone position where you can lay with your gun or crossbow and hunt animals… or people. The front entry takes as little longer to get in and out of but may let less insects in if you can master it. You do have to hop in feet first though. The top entrance is the one I prefer because you just need to lift over the canvas flap and unzip the netting and then just in fast. There was a time when I had to get out of the swag fast during one night because I thought my car was being broken into, so I whipped it open and bolted towards the car turning my 2000lm light to max to find the perpetrator… who was only my camping friends, and it wan’t even my car… But it shows how fast you can get out of it. The only problem, I didn’t have time to put my boots on because the zip makes an obvious and semi loud noise when unzipping it quickly and that would have given them time to run had it been criminals.

Darche Superdome
Fig12. – A low shot of the swag to show how it blends with the surroundings.

Conclusion
The price is reasonable coming in at A$490 including delivery. I however bought it on a special for 15% more off so keep an eye out for those if you’re interested in buying one. I love mine and would buy another if for some reason it was destroyed.