Growing up and in my early 20s I used mink oil on my books and some shoes. Then I ended up living in places where it was generally too hot to wear boots (the Pacific), or where mink oil wasn’t readily available (Asia). I was reminded of this over Christmas by my cousin, who noted it was time for another coat as his feet were getting damp while we were working in snow/slush. My feet – in my ~15 year old combat boots – were completely wet and freezing. So a few weeks ago I picked up some mink oil and applied it to my boots. This weekend the DC area got snow and as I shoveled the driveway and was out in the slush, the inside of my boots remained completely dry, and warm. Normally that’s a convenience, but in a survival situation it could be critical. There are other products that do the same thing, but mink oil does work as advertised.
Archive for January, 2010
A few years ago I was looking for candles in case of power outages, etc. Then I happened to notice tealight candles at Ikea. At the time I probably paid about $3, and they’re advertised online now for $3.99 for a bag of 100. Rated at 4 hours each, that 400 hours of light for $4 – hard to beat. I like them because they’re small and unlikely to break, and has an aluminum candlecup so melted wax won’t get all over the place. I have several bags of these, and keep a few loose candles in various packs ready to go. For whatever reason, some places offer the same type of candles with the same burn time for five times as much, so it’s worth it to do little research online and have an idea of a good price.
Update: I’ve tested two of these candles over the past few nights; one made it to 4 hours 40 minutes, the second to 5 hours 20 minutes, so more than advertised. On the downside, after an hour or so of burning, all the wax melted inside the aluminum candlecup, so one would have to wait for the wax to solidify before moving on.
I’ve always thought it was important to have portable power inverters for our vehicles, the type that plug into a 12 VDC cigarette lighter type outlet and provide 100-120 VAC power. In a G.O.O.D. situation, or just using power tools in the woods, their utility is great. For any prepper, they are essential gear.
Several months ago while in Wal-Mart I picked up a Black and Decker 400W PI400AB inverter that came with a cable for 12 VDC outlets in the vehicle as well as a cable to attach directly to the vehicle battery.
If you follow the link to Amazon and check out the ratings, you can tell I didn’t check out the ratings before buying. True to those ratings, the B&D PI400AB did not perform well.
When you buy a power inverter rated over 100 Watts, in most cases to get the higher power output it will need to be wired directly to the vehicle battery. 12 VDC outlets usually have a fuse that prevents more power from going through them.
The B&D 400W inverter was rated to only 80W via my trucks internal 12 VDC outlet – but my laptop with dead batter pulled about 90W while on a roadtrip where I needed it. The inverter was supposed to just show a fault and shut down, but then work (reset) when attached to the battery with a lower load. But pulling 90W pretty much killed it. [Update: Attempting to contact B&D warranty/repair is practically useless - I'll just have to write off this $45 as completely wasted. I strongly recommend against any B&D products since warranty/repair is near impossible.]
I did some research and purchased a Sears DieHard 400W inverter. The reviews were good, and in fact it worked like a champ. It has a display that shows exactly how much power is being pulled by what’s plugged in, and is able to go up to 120W without being wired to the battery.
The only thing I don’t like about the DieHard inverter is that the air intake is on the bottom, so it needs to be set so it can get air. I solved this with some double-sided tape and two pieces of wood trim.
I prefer no to wire it in, but if more power is needed on a camping trip, etc., it’s easy enough to pop the hood and connect directly to the battery with the included cable with battery clips.
Two lessons learned; 1) check reviews first, and 2) wire it up for full performance, if needed. Although I picked up a 400W model, probably a 750W or more would be a good idea for a survival scenario.