SunJack Solar Charger – Product Review

SunJack1 (5)I had the opportunity to test out the SunJack portable solar charger.  

What is the SunJack?

It is a portable solar charger by GigaWatt that can charge any USB device – phones, tablets, GPS, cameras, speakers, lights, and more.

Here is how it works:

The SunJack harnesses solar energy for direct charging or it can store power in a removable UltraSlim battery for use 24/7, rain or shine. After only 5 hours of direct sunlight, the 14 watt SunJack can power either 4 iPhones, 0.7 iPads or 8-9 hours of LED light using the SunJack USB CampLight. Unlike many other chargers, the SunJack kit includes a 1-2 batteries enabling you to simultaneously power 4 to 6 USB devices at a rate equal to on-grid charge speed (2 Amp).

Here is the SunJack right out of the box.

SunJack1 (2)

It comes with the four solar panels with USB charging unit, the battery pack, two carabiners and instructions for use.

I tried it out by leaving the SunJack outside on a small coffee table exposed to direct sunlight.

SunJack1 (3)You plug the battery to the charging unit and leave it alone in direct sunlight.

I left it out there for three hours

After three hours, I checked on the charge and found it was almost fully charged:

SunJack1 (1)There was only one more light indicator not lighting up at this point.    I asked my contact at SunJack about this and here is what he told me:

The last 20% charges a little slower to protect the battery and maximize the battery life. This is characteristic of Lithium batteries charge circuitry. Most likely if the battery is left in full sun for 5-6 hours the last led would also light up. 4 hours in full sun usually gets the battery 80% charged. Note this also occurs with iPhones as they charge to 80% really fast then charge speed slows down for last 20%.

It does make sense, as my own phone does the same thing.  After the final two hours, the fifth one lit up.

After the SunJack was fully charged, I charged up my phone and was pleased that the SunJack charged as quickly as am electric wall plug.  I’ve tested other solar chargers and the charging time is much slower than this one.  Granted, it was a smaller one with only three panels, but regardless, I was impressed at the fast charge of the SunJack.  Using the fully charged battery, I was able to charge my phone four times

The SunJack would be handy while camping to power up small devices – you can harness the power of the sun since you are outside already.  I think the SunJack is a great backup power source in the event of a power outage, or other emergencies.  As of this writing, it is available for $145 on Amazon and is currently on sale for $135 at LPC Survival.  The SunJack is well worth it.

 

Why You Should Keep Tarp in Your Survival Kit

Why You Should Keep Tarp in Your Survival Kit A few weeks ago, we took a day trip to a wilderness area for a picnic.  There was no rain in the forecast that day, and there were no clouds in the sky when we set out.  After an hour’s drive, we arrived and scoped out a spot by some trees.  A couple of hours later, the clouds started coming in.  Pretty soon the sky was dark and you could just feel a slight cool down in the temperature, which signifies rain.  The wind came in and we knew we were about to have a downpour.  We didn’t want to leave just yet, so Mr. Apt Prepper rigged up a tarp into a makeshift shelter.  Paracord came in handy for tie-ups.

It was not a very attractive set-up but it kept us from getting drenched.  The rain lasted for about 45 minutes then the sun came out.

I was glad we had the tarp and paracord to build a makeshift shelter.  I have written about paracord before, but not about tarp.

Mutiple uses for tarp:

  • Barrier under a tent floor to protect you from sharp rocks or critters
  • Blanket to keep warm
  • Picnic blanket
  • Use as a hammock
  • Improvise a stretcher to carry an injured person
  • Use as a surface to field dress game
  • Make a shelter to protect from rain or to get some shade
  • Protect your car’s seats from messes
  • As a wrapping for stuff
  • Assemble into a backpack with paracord straps
  • As a covering for items carried on top of your car or truck
  • For camouflage if it is has the right colors
  • Make a sail
  • Catch rainwater:  dig a hole in the ground, line it with tarp and collect water.  It can also be used to direct the flow of water into a container
  • Protect your floor while doing a paint job
  • Use as a way to signal – if you are lost somewhere, find an area to spread out the tarp so it can be seen from above.
  • Makeshift shower curtain
  • Privacy screen for an outdoor toilet
  • Make an indoor fort for kids to entertain themselves during a power outage
  • Covering for windows

Keep some tarp, along with paracord and some duct tape in your car survival kit.  While you’re at it, might as well keep one at home and in your bug out bag.

 

Survival Tin Party Favor

Survival Tin Party FavorThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I got this heart tin as a wedding party favor.  Originally it contained mints but after they were gone, I kept the container.

I thought it would be fun to use it as a survival tin, as I had done a while back with my pocket sized first aid kit.  Instead of giving out candy, why not include items that could one day help someone out in an emergency.  It’s useful, handy and can be stashed in a desk or purse.

Here are a couple of ideas:

All purpose survival tin

Secret Survival Tin 1Include:

  • Strike anywhere matches
  • A couple of safety pins
  • Paracord
  • Anti-bacterial wipe
  • Cash:  a few coins and a bill

You can also include a couple of water purification tablets, paper clip, rubber bands etc.

First Aid Tin

First Aid TinInclude:

  • A couple sizes of adhesive bandage
  • Sanitizing wipe
  • Pain reliever
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Diarrhea remedy (already inside the tin)

You can also add allergy medicine, a couple of cotton swabs, eye drops etc.

First Aid Tin 2

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Show young kids that being prepared can be fun!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure© Apartment Prepper 2014

Please click here to vote for me at Top Prepper Websites!

Nite Ize DoohicKey Key Tool – Does it Work?

Nite Ize DooHicKeyThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Today we are reviewing the Nite Ize DoohicKey Key Tool, a little gadget that has multiple uses.

According to the package, it can be used as:

  • Carabiner
  • Box Cutter
  • Bottle Opener
  • Wrench
  • Ruler
  • Flat Head Screw Driver

The Nite Ize DoohicKey Key Tool is small enough to place in your key ring.

I tested out its uses and found it to be sturdy enough to perform its intended uses.  I also like that it does not take up a lot of space.

Here is one of the uses I found for it:

Nite Ize carabinerI hung up a collapsible water carrier to dry for several hours and the Nite Ize DoohicKey Key Tool held up well.

It also worked well for opening boxes, and is not sharp enough to cut yourself.  It came in handy as a bottle opener.

Priced at $6.71 on Amazon, it is inexpensive enough to buy one for everyone in the family.  I think it would also make a nice stocking stuffer, office gift even for people who don’t want to think about prepping.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Please click here to vote for me at Top Prepper Websites!

Do Homemade Waterproof Matches Work?

Do Homemade Waterproof Matches WorkThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I’ve seen instructions in various survival sites regarding waterproofing matches.  Recently, I saw a link on Survival Blog on the same topic with Jim Rawles saying if you’re going to do this, you must cover the entire match with nail polish.

Being a type personality I still had some questions in my mind:

– Does it have to be wooden matches, or can you use paper matches that you get for free in restaurants?

-Since you are using nail polish, which is a fire starter in itself, would the entire match burst into flames as you light it?

I wondered if the homemade waterproof matches would really work in an emergency if they get soaked.  I decided to try this for myself.

Here is what I did:

Materials

Waterproof Matches project1Box of wooden matches

Packet of free paper matches from a restaurant

nail polish (it doesn’t matter what color)

I covered both sets of matches, top to bottom, with nail polish, then let them dry overnight.

Waterproof Matches project2

The next day, I placed some matches in a plastic baggie and poured water into the bag, soaking both sets of matches.

Waterproof Matches project3After draining the water, I wiped the matches with a cloth to get rid of any excess moisture.

Now for the test.

1.  First, I lit one set of matches that were never covered with polish to make sure both matches work well.  They do.

2.  Next, I tested a set of matches that were covered with polish, but were not drenched in water.

Result:  The wooden match with nail polish lit immediately upon striking.  No, it did not burst into flames, only the tip burned just as a normal match would.

However, the paper match that was painted with polish DID NOT work.

3.  Finally,  I tested the wet matches.

Waterproof Matches project5

Same result as #2:  The wooden match covered with nail polish also lit immediately, no problem, but predictably, the paper match did not work.

Conclusion:

Nail polish does work to make matches waterproof, but only if you are using wooden matches.  Covering a pack of wooden matches with nail polish to make them waterproof actually works, and is a worthwhile prepper project.

 

Free Credit Card Knife

Survival Life

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Please welcome our new sponsor, Survival Life.  Yes, they are the folks who offer the Free Credit Card Knife, with just a small fee ($2.95) for shipping and handling.  This handy little tool fits in your pocket, wallet purse, bug-out bag; why not keep one in several places so you can easily reach for a knife when you need it.

Features

  • Ultra Slim – Folds to the size of a credit card, 2 mm THIN! (The same size as your standard credit card and 1/10th the thickness of your standard utility knife!)
  • Quick and Simple Conversion – In just seconds, this tool transforms from an unassuming card in your wallet into a fully functional knife.
  • Surgical Steel Blade – Stainless steel construction for durable, rust-free sharpness.
  • Protective Hand Guard – Helps you get a grip and prevents the blade from slipping.
  • Built-In Safety Sheath – This prevents any accidents caused by an open blade in your pocket or pack, and even prevents the blade from becoming blunted during everyday carry.
  • Snap-Open, Waterproof Locking Mechanism – Easier to open than ordinary penknives, and no metal hinges that rust.
  • UNADVERTISED BONUS - Complete Your Order for the
    “Credit Card Knife” Now and Get the “Ultimate Every Day
    Carry Kit
    ” Bonus Guide Absolutely FREE!

I think the credit card knife is a neat little tool, and the price is right.  I am ordering four myself.  Go check them out!

 Update on 2/13/2014:  Checked with Survival Knife to find out how long it normally takes to get an order, and how to contact them if there is an issue:  It takes 12-15 business days typically.   For any issues, you may contact the support team at support@survivallife.com or by phone 512-366-3332.

The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide: Review and Giveaway

Creek's New Book

I received a review copy of Creek Stewart’s latest book, The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.   I had read his first book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag and reviewed it previously.   I had great expectations for the second book, and I was pleased to read it.

It is well known that The Hunger Games books and movie had a lot of survival type situations and this book relates how one might actually survive when faced with such difficult circumstances.

First, the Big Question

We might as well get the big question out of the way:  Do you need to read The Hunger Games series of books or see the movie before you can appreciate this one?   I would say it helps, but it is not absolutely necessary.  I admit I have not seen the movie, but I did read the books a couple of years ago.   There is a tie-in, as the topics relate to some of the survival issues covered in the book, but if you have not read or seen the movie you will still learn a lot of survival lessons.

What I Thought about The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

I thought the book was very informative and covered all the necessities for survival.

Some of the topics include:

  • Finding water and making it safe to drink
  • Identifying edible plants
  • Building snares
  • Building a shelter to protect against heat, cold, wind and rain
  • Fire-starting
  • Navigation
  • First aid
  • Travel tips for rescue and evasion
  • Making tools to increase the odds of survival such as a bow, knife from a sharp rock

and a lot more.

I enjoyed the sections that I personally feel deficient in, such as identifying plants that are safe to eat, finding your way using things in nature, natural camouflage, good fire-starting materials etc.

I liked reading the “Survival Quick Tips” that were sprinkled throughout the book, giving helpful advice that is related to the section.  The book also includes a lot of photos and illustrations, making it easy for the reader to follow along.

The author gives specific advice on where to look when you need additional information about a subject such as the best guide for foraging plants, references and actual brands of gear that are known to work.   As anyone who has researched emergency gear knows, finding out about what works and what doesn’t takes time and money:  having concrete advice like this handy eliminates a lot of guesswork and wasted time.

Fortunately for us, we are not faced with life or death survival situations such as those experienced by the characters in The Hunger Games, but you never know when you will be faced with such a predicament.  The time to learn these skills is now, not when we’re already deep in the middle of a crisis.  As author Creek Stewart says, “Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN.”  I recommend The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide to anyone who wants to learn survival skills in an entertaining but illuminating format.

Now for the Giveaway

Two lucky readers will be chosen to win this giveaway of the following:

  • Autographed copy of The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide
  • Willow Haven Outdoor Logo Sling Pack,
  • A 100% cotton Willow Haven Outdoor Survival Bandanna
  • A Multi-Fuctional Survival Tool with built in lanyard, compass, ferro rod, whistle and water-proof container for storing matches other survival kit items.

Creek's giveaway 2

To win, please comment below regarding any of the following:

  • What survival situation in The Hunger Games you were most curious about
  • What you hope to learn from this book

Entries will be accepted until Sunday, May 26th at 8 pm Central.  We will contact the winners via email-please respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

Note:  This giveaway is now closed.

 

What to Do if Your Bug Out Vehicle is Too Small

Prepping in small spaces is a topic we’ve discussed, but we have not discussed space issues in a bug out vehicle.

Many city dwellers are trying to save on gas, and are downsizing to a smaller vehicle.  Several relatives have switched to small economy cars or hybrids after getting tired of high gas prices.  If you live in a city, there is always a chance you may need to get out, hopefully you will be able to drive out while you can.

Now is a good time to evaluate your bug out vehicle, before any emergency happens.  Here are some considerations:

  • Number of people riding with you.
  • Trunk/storage space
  • Gas mileage
  • Ability to drive in flooding and rough terrain
  • Height of the car
  • Condition of the car

How much supplies you want to take with you?  You’ll need to be choosy about what will go into your bug out vehicle.  I realize many preppers favor “bugging in” instead of driving out.  I can understand it is much easier to shelter in place.  But everyone needs a “Plan B” in case you have to flee an immediate danger in the city.  You will need essentials such as water, food, shelter (tents etc), your bug out bags.  If you have pets you will also need space for them and their supplies.  You may also need a gas can or two, depending on the situation.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Clean out your car thoroughly.  I know people who carry a lot of clutter in their trunk such as sports equipment, bags of clothes they need to donate or take to the cleaners, even trash.  I’m not judging anyone, but if you happen to have junk in your car, get rid of it.
  • Maintain your car.  Are you overdue for an oil change or tune-up?   Do your brakes need replacing?  Are your tires balding?  I have been guilty of all of the above at some point in my life when I kept putting off repairs due to budget constraints.  Do your best to get your car serviced.  You don’t want your car to break down when you are trying to get your family to safety.
  • If your car lacks space for emergency supplies, now is the time to look into ways to increase storage space:

Roof luggage rack

Roof luggage rack

Roof Cargo bag Rooftop cargo box or rooftop cargo bag

Cargo Carrier

Cargo carrier

Before you buy, check the specifications carefully to make sure the space extender you are buying will fit your car.

Low budget idea:  If you have a built in roof rack, mount items on the rack with rope and a black or brown tarp,  but you will will need to practice doing this to make sure everything is secure.  Not very attractive, but if you are trying to leave in a hurry then you may not care about appearances, just try to avoid attracting attention.

You could also find these items used.  As people change cars, they will not be needing the old rack for the old car.

I’m not an expert on cars, and you may find other solutions work better for you.  Space in your car may someday be as critical as the space in your home.  The good news is, these space extenders are useful to have even if no emergency ever happens.

 

 

For beginning preppers

 

 

An Ideal Stove for Outdoor Cooking

Long time readers know I am always on the look-out for lightweight portable stoves to test out, having had less than stellar results in the past. Living in an apartment in the city, we cannot deny the possibility we may have to bug out if there were an extended emergency.  In addition, we enjoy camping and backpacking, and a lightweight stove is a must.

Sole Stove box

I was excited to try out the Solo Stove.  It is a small, portable stove that uses biomass (twigs, dried leaves, etc) for fuel.  Not needing to bring special fuel is a big advantage:  since you can easily find branches and twigs, you are not adding weight to your bug-out bag.

Assembly

The stove is very easy to assemble:  just set the cooking ring on top of the stove so that the prongs are on top.  That is what your pot will rest on.

Starting the Fire

1.   First, collect your fuel:  in our case, Mr. Apt Prepper gathered up twigs, dried leaves and a few acorns out in the back of our building.  Place the twigs in the stove chamber.  The twigs or wood pieces should be roughly two to three inches in length.

Sizing Sticks for kindling for Solo Stove2.  Make sure the stove is on a level area, away from the wind.  We just set it on a  paving stone.  The Solo Stove’s instructions can be found here.

3.  Start the fire.   It would have been easier to use firestarter, but we wanted to see how it would perform by just lighting the fuel using matches.  The dried leaves caught fire instantly and in a couple of minutes, the rest of the twigs were burning nicely.

Burning leaves in Solo Stove  4.  We set a pan containing two cups of water on the stove.  We continued to add twigs to the fire.  The water started to boil in about 10 minutes, which is a lot faster than I’ve experienced with a regular campfire.

Pan on Solo StoveCleaning

Once the fire has died down and stove has cooled completely,  all you need to do is empty out the ash.  Since the fuel is all organic, you don’t need to worry about polluting the area.

Ash inside Solo StoveA bit of soot may cling to the stove but it is easily wiped off.

We put the stove through the paces and it performed well.  Mr Apt Prepper kept an objective eye over the test.  If we had to come up with an area of improvement it would be to provide more detailed instructions for the inexperienced portable stove user.  One thing that is not obvious to a new user is gauging the amount of fuel that is needed.  Using dried twigs, the stove did not give off much smoke at all, which is great for a bug-out stove, when you don’t want to attract a lot of attention with your cooking fire.   For those readers who are inclined to “do-it-yourself”  there are many plans found around the internet that provide instructions on how to make one.

 

 

For beginning preppers

Monday Musings: 10/29/2012 Under the Weather Edition

Just a quick Monday update as I try to recover from a stuffy head and other miscellaneous miseries that accompany this time of year.

Nature reminds us to be prepared.  A monster storm is looming over the East Coast as Hurricane Sandy approaches land.  On the other side of the country, Hawaii just got through a tsunami warning, which fortunately did not materialize, due to a huge earthquake off the Canadian coast.   The impending East Coast storm predictably caused a mad rush to the stores for last minute emergency supplies.

What happened to Odd Questioner?   If you’ve read this blog and other preparedness blogs for a while you would recognize frequent comments from “Odd Questioner”   Then he disappeared for a while and what a surprise I got an email from him.  He’d been “laying low for awhile, but the reason why is below:”

He recently released a book, available for free or for sale (or both).

The book, Beyond Collapse, by T Joseph Miller, is a complete guide to preparation and survival, but more importantly it is a long-term guide to forming and keeping a post-collapse community.   It prints out to 8.5×11 inches, and has 430-some-odd pages in it.

The free version is here:  (Please note, the free version is for personal use only and not for distribution.  I recommend you print it out for future use.)
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B6e3oH1LuRvzeGZlTHRkeHZQSkk

The paperback can be had here:
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Collapse-Joseph-Miller-Jr/dp/1480140805/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350953356&sr=8-1&keywords=Beyond+Collapse

From what I have browsed so far, the book looks very thorough and well thought out. I am adding it to my reading list.

ParaVival Paracord Bracelet   I received a paracord bracelet sample (pictured above) from ParaVival Gear.  They specialize in all things paracord.  As you can see from the photo, the bracelets are attractive; what you can’t see is they are softer and more flexible that some other paracord bracelets I’ve seen.    In an emergency you can see exactly where you need to start unraveling.  Check out Paravival.com, not only do they have neat paracord creations, they also have instructibles for the “do it yourselfers” in the group.

Prepper casting call with expert training opportunity.  Do you want to be in a TV show, AND learn from an expert?  Not a recommendation, just passing information along.  Here’s what the they are looking for:

Seeking apocalypse believers for 2-day training course w/ an EXPERT PREPPER, to be filmed by Emmy-winning production company.   Apply to preppercast@gmail.com by Monday, 10/29 to be considered!   If you believe that the end is near and are seeking a great opportunity to learn how to prepare, come join us for a 2-day course. The course (normally hundreds of dollars, in this case FREE) will consist of building shelter, procuring food and water, setting up camp, booby traps, learning defense, etc. All levels of expertise welcome.  Course will take place for 2 days within November 8-11th (probably over the weekend), so please be available in that time frame.   The course will be filmed by a major television production company, but will not air on television. So you must be open to being interviewed and filmed as you participate.

In order to apply, please contact preppercast@gmail.com with:

-Your name
-Your age
-A clear photograph
-The type of apocalypse you believe will occur (global financial crisis, natural disaster, solar flare, plague, zombie attack, etc.)
-Your level of prepper expertise
-Why you want to participate
-A short bio about yourself
-Any video of yourself that you have

Survival Knife Infographic   I like a good infographic so I had to share the following with you.

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife by Survival-Goods.com

Stay safe everyone!