The Backpacker’s Woodstove

When planning for a worst case scenario, many things have to be taken into account. One of your primary considerations is how you will cook your food and heat/boil water. Heating your living space is also a consideration in cold weather, but the first two considerations are an “All year round” proposition.

Recently, I purchased a wood stove made by Firebox. The model I purchased was the G2 Folding Firebox Stove. Along with it, I also bought the Extended Grill Plate. Why did I purchase a small woodburning stove? The answer is pretty simple when you think it through. My primary stove has been an MSR Whisperlite International for about 28 years. It is a multifuel stove, works well in every environment I’ve used it in, and has the ability to use a lot of the liquid fuels available. Problem is, what if liquid fuels aren’t available?

I know, I know….I can just make a fire on the ground, right? But what if you can’t? Some places you might train or use now have a fire ban in effect a lot or most of the time, and although you can use your liquid fuel stove in those areas, you can’t use them for long if it is needed for staying warm. Also, what if you want to reduce or eliminate the “sign” left by a fire because you feel it might lead others to you?

Regardless, I figured I’d try one of these stoves out as an “All of the above” option. Below are my impressions gleaned from using it at a recent MDT Wilderness Survival class, and in this case, they are all favorable.

Because I was in a hurry, I placed the extended grill diagonally across the top of the stove while boiling a cup of water. Fortunately, you can do that with the extended grill due to it’s length.

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Above shows the cordura case that’s available. The only attachment point is a D-ring that is attached at the top of the case. The inside of the case has two pockets for storage.

The stove and the extended grill both fit in the case.

The different pieces of the stove. Clockwise from top left. Draft Plate, Fire Sticks, Extended Grill and the Stove Body which is partially unfolded.

A view from the top of the stove. On the right side, you can see the stove floor is partially unfolded. To use, it is pushed down and snaps into place on the bottom.

The Draft Plate slides into the bottom and is held in place with one of the Fire Sticks, and the other Fire Stick is used to adjust the draft by pushing in or pulling out the plate.

A pic of how the Draft Plate works by blocking or allowing air into the bottom of the stove.

To record the times for each part of the stove test, I started with a fire made just as I would in the woods for cold, wet conditions.

The wood used for the “Boil” test was mostly from the pile in the bottom left of the pic and some from the pile on the right side. Small sticks to start, and up to 3/4″ sticks to keep it going. The thicker stuff can be used for heating by taking the cook plate off of the top of the stove and feeding them in. It puts out a lot of heat!

Fill the stove with small sticks “pencil size” or smaller. I leave an area open directly in the center to place the fire starter (in this case a small piece of fatwood) vertically in.

Ferrocium rod starting a lint ball infused with a little vaseline and a pinch of magnesium flakes starts with one strike. I then light a “pencil sized”fatwood stick that has been “feathersticked” by placing it over the burning lint tinder.

The fatwood stick will burn like a match (but much longer), even in heavy wind. I place it directly down in the center of the small stick pile, keeping it upright so it will burn up its length. The fatwood stick will burn for about 3 or 4 minutes, igniting the small sticks.

This is the fire within 4 minutes. Due to the large amount of airflow allowed to get to the fire and fuel, the fire gets hot very quickly.

The extended grill was placed on the stove at 5 minutes, along with a canteen cup of cold water. I bought the extended grill plate because it will hold two canteen cups (or the canteen and cup) at the same time, thus using your fuel more efficiently. How many single burner gas stoves can do that?

The stove can be fed with small sticks through the large hole in the side towards the bottom, shown on the left. Larger sticks can be fed through the hole under the extended grill, shown in the pic on the right.

The canteen cup of cold water was boiling within 7 minutes of placing it on the stove. From the starting of the fire, to boiling water it took 12 minutes.

There was a small amount of ash residue left on the ground when I moved the stove. If there is an issue concerning not building a regular fire (fire ban), or not wanting to leave any sign of your being there, carry a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil to place on the ground under the stove.

Total for what is shown was $86 plus shipping from Fireboxstove.com. Total weight of the stove with accessories and in the case is 2 lbs. 9 ozs.. The outside dimensions of the case with everything inside is 8″ high, 7″ wide, and 1″ thick. As an alternative to a liquid fuel stove in an area you can’t build a regular fire, it is hard to beat.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
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The Difference Between A Garden Hose And A Fire Hose-A Commo Class AAR

 

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The majority of my 14 years was spend using conventional commo like this.

A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, I was in a unit whose mission requirements dictated that everyone down to the lowest ranking “Joe” knew how to make improvise antennas for use primarily with our PRC 74 or 77 radios which was then slaved to a DMDG (Digital Message Device Group).

We (the “Joes”) sat through a number of classes concerning radio use. Considering the unit’s mission required that we be well out of range for regular mil commo, EVERYONE had to know how to make the antenna required for effective commo.

At that time, the classes consisted of a “Fire Hose” dump of info that would have been difficult for most to digest, let alone have a basic understanding of. Like many things I learned in the military, The initial “Dump” of info was through the “Fire Hose” technique.

We learned how to go through the motions to accomplish the task, and we memorized what needed memorized, but the understanding of the reasons for doing it that way, or in this case, the theory of the “Why” and “How” an improvised antenna worked was lost to many of us.

My good friend NC Scout and I have a lot in common, from some very similar background In certain types of units, to our philosophy as Survivalists. He was tellin’ me on the phone one night what his class consisted of, and we hadn’t gotten together for a while, so I said, “What the Hell” (after clearin’ it through the “First Sergeant” of course) and decided to go check out his class a few weekends ago.

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My prep for the class over the next couple days consisted of going back and finding my old notes from those classes 27 years ago (which I had transcribed into a “Write in the Rain” notebook a number of years back), and square away my radio and field gear. I reviewed my notes over the next couple days, packed up my vehicle and left, the Friday afternoon before the class, on my 5 hour drive to NC Scouts teaching site.

Something that I’ve noticed (it’s pretty obvious to most who are observant) while putting on classes for Mason Dixon Tactical, is that classes such as we put on are as much a networking event, as a learning event. Upon my arrival, I met a number of guys that I knew of, but had not met. I got to know them over the next couple days and am glad to say they are now part of my “Network”.

As an aside, I’ve found a number of times over the last decade or so, you can neither count on, trust, nor believe many that you will meet through the internet. Two “Well knowns”  in particular come to mind that were given a high level of trust based on the Mil background they told me. One proved to be a snake and a liar, the other, a thief and a liar (go figure). What’s the saying….. “Caveat Emptor”?

So Saturday morning, after a kick ass breakfast, we got to the classroom work. NC Scout started with different radios, their positives, and for some, their negatives. Along with that, he discussed power supplies in the field. Next up was creating an SOI (Signals Operating Instructions) for our group. This is an important step. Since everyone there was involved in doing this, they now have experience in doing it for their own groups. NC Scout didn’t just tell us how to do it, he had the class actually make an SOI. Along with the SOI instruction, the class received a block of instruction in putting together an OpOrd (Operations Order), and where the SOI is included in that OpOrd.

Next up were report formats, and the “when”, “where” and “why” of their uses. Certain reports (“CRACK” in this instance), he modified the format slightly to fit the Prepper/Survivalist needs. After report formats we went on to using the radio, and how to speak on a radio (‘You, this is Me”) to be understood and verify that your message was received correctly.

We then covered the uses of radios with HF, VHF, and UHF frequency coverage, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Unless you realize what you have, and how best to utilize it’s potential, your ability to relay info will only work if there is some luck involved. NC Scout covered the radio freqs, and the “How” and “Why” of there ability or inability to work in certain environments.

The next part of the class was where I received the most “real world” info. Everything else we had covered in the class was either familiar to me, I had a pretty good working knowledge of, or I had used it a lot (SOI and OpOrd for instance). Antenna theory was something that I was force-fed as a “Joe” and “learned” it (remember my “Fire hose” analogy), but I didn’t understand it. I now understand it, and am not only able to implement it, but feel comfortable with using the info.

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Using the “Cobra Head” we attached wires and insulators to create a “Jungle Antenna”.

NC Scout covered Di-Pole and Jungle Antennas in the class. We learned the theory behind their use, The history (including the Japanese and German answers to the same problem) and the reason they worked so well in their niche. Then we built (he had supplies for everyone to build one) a Jungle Antenna for use with a specific freq for OUR radios, using the formula we were give in the class. Imagine that, they worked……

NC Scout was able to make things we knew of such as the “Old School” TV antennas we had on our houses years ago, relevant to what we were doing in class (They are “Yagi” antennas, which was the Japanese answer to the “Jungle Antenna” question). He also made relevant why an antenna such as that has so many  forward cross pieces (we learned the are called “Directors”) by advising of the “Gain” achieved with the different number of “Directors”.

We learned about digital radios, and some really cool advantages of the different ones available. BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight) was covered, as well as NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave), and the radio categories and freqs used with the previously discussed antennas and also the advantages (range and security), of their use, and the “How” and “Why” they work so well.

Some of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent in the field practicing radio use. Saturday afternoon was spent actually transmitting messages from one group to another using the different formats (SALUTE, SALT, ANGUS, CYRIL, CRACK, BORIS, UNDER) the class had been taught, along with using radio security measures with those reports.

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Most of Sunday the students spent in teams (that were flip flopped occasionally) in the field sending back reconnaissance (to the Tactical Operations Center) info gleaned from actual sightings of OpFor in the field. They put up the “Jungle Antennas that were built in class, and utilized the different reports they had been taught for various scenarios. From what I saw, the students became pretty comfortable with doing what was needed for relaying the info.

From my perspective, the AAR would go something like this:

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What was the mission/task?

Teach basic radio/antenna theory, the types of radios and antennas available, their use, and conduct practical exercises.

Items needed for the class?

A notebook and a pencil or pen, a radio was not required. This was not a HAM only class, and was relevant to anyone wanting to learn the basics of the above mentioned “”Mission/Task” for the Prepper or Survivalist.

Was the mission/task accomplished?

Yes

What should be sustained?

The method of delivery, the area the class was taught, and the info put out was excellent, and needs to be maintained. The time was used efficiently. The classroom was sufficient (dry with tables to work on) for what was needed. The supplies given to us for building an antenna were a bonus. We were fed some awesome home cooked meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Supper/ Breakfast, Lunch) and I was stuffed in a good way after every one. The class took the theory taught in it and put it into practical application, and everyone (even the two young girls who came with their parents) got to participate. The chance to network with those of like mind and make new friendships can not be understated as a “Sustain”.

What should be improved?

Nothing, given the time constraints of a two day class. If we had more time, maybe more field time, but referring back to “It was only a two day class”, yeah, that’s not an option.

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To NC Scout I want to convey a “Well Done Brother!”. To put it mildly to those reading this, I wish he had been the guy with the “Fire hose” 27 years ago teaching the antenna class to us “Joes” in the detachment. You made some things learned, all those years ago, not only understandable for this “Non Commo” guy, but I now feel comfortable with the improvised side of radio/antenna use.

To those I met in the class I want to convey that you guys made it a quite enjoyable time, and I plan on keeping in touch with a number of you. I know I said this in the class, but it stands to be reiterated that you guys are very lucky to have a guy like NC Scout putting out this info in such an easily digestible manner.

Great class taught by an outstanding instructor, Good people with the same goals and mindset, what could be better?

Ruckin' with the FAL

By no means am I a “commo guy”, but I always carry a radio in the woods. Now I know I can carry a conveniently compact antenna with me and get info out over a lot longer range than the standard antenna would have let me in the past. 

JCD,

“Parata Vivere”-Live Prepared.

 

Everyday Gear Uses For Elastic Shock Cord

Over the years I’ve had a number of people ask me about what the cord is that I have on the shoulder holsters I’ve shown in other posts. Considering the damage that can result from having your gear come out at an inopportune time, let alone if you lose the item because it wasn’t secured effectively (we always “dummy corded” everything in the Infantry), I figured I’d go ahead and post about what I use here.

I have used two different sizes/diameters for different gear over the years, and between the two, they’ve covered most of my needs. Although the 1/8th inch stuff is pretty light, and can’t retain anything with any weight to it while under a direct load, I’ve found the 3/16th inch stuff to be just right for most general applications.

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Here is a pretty common place you’ll see elastic cordage used commercially for tactical gear. Open top mag pouches usually use it in an “Over the top of the mag” bungee, or as an elastic retainer around the body of the mag. This is 1/8th inch shock cord in the picture.

Having had a pistol fall out of a horizontal shoulder holster (my preference on concealment shoulder rigs, and “No, I don’t care about your opinion of that type of holster”) due to the thumb break getting caught and unsnapped, and seeing a mag in an upside down mag pouch (usually associated with a shoulder holster) fall out, due to the same circumstance, I decided a number of years ago to come up with a way to retain those items, without hindering their ability to be removed quickly when needed.

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Although my first iteration of what I was going for worked, it required the “support hand” to thumb down the cord loop while unsnapping and drawing the pistol with the strong hand. 

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Most recent (2nd) version of the elastic setup for the Keltec PF-9. This shows the elastic position on the outside of the holster.

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This shows the elastic after being unsecured from the holster and mag pouch.

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In this pic we see the elastic positioning on the inside/body side of the holster and mag pouch.

Pic#1

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Here is the shoulder holster retention system I use for my Glock 30 (my normal “non duty” carry gun) with double mag pouch.  

Pic#2

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This shows the outside/away from body side positioning of the elastic.

Pic#3

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This pick shows the backside/body side of the shoulder rig and how the elastic is positioned and secured.

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When drawing your weapon, you place the thumb against the inside towards body side of the knot in the elastic, and push forward and away from the body. 

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After you push off the elastic retention strap, your thumb is in position for pushing inward on the thumb break to be able to withdraw your weapon from the holster.

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Withdrawing a mag from the mag pouch is as simple as pulling down on the mag flap. This action will automatically slide the elastic retention strap off of the mag pouch/pouches.

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There is no extra action required to remove the elastic retention strap from the mag pouch other than to pull down on the mag pouch flap.

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Using this system for the mag pouch makes them very secure, but available instantly when needed.

Below we’ll show how the elastic is tied before securing it to the holster, then how to secure it to the holster.

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Makes sure you start with more length of elastic than you think you’ll need. First we start with tying one overhand knot in a single strand of cord. and in the center of the elastic cord. This knot will be the one that slides over the thumb break snap.

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Referring back to the Glock holster Pic#2 as an example, the second knot, which is a double corded knot, is made/positioned a little less than halfway back (to be exact, 47% in this example) towards the tied off base at the rear of the holster. Tie the first knot, then lay it next to the holster to get your approximate location for the second one. Keep in mind, if you make the knot too close to your thumb break (front loop will be too tight), it will not slide off as easily.

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The third knot shown is also a double corded knot, and is put through two holes in at the rear of the holster made with an awl, or a punch. it is then secured with a double overhand knot as shown here. Make sure it has enough tension, without going too tight. If you do too much tension, pushing the loop off of the front of the thumb break will be more difficult. You want just enough tension to keep the thumb break from being accidentally unsnapped. 

The next type of gear I’ve used the elastic for is on some of my cutting tools’ sheaths. Although I love the kydex sheath I purchased from Cleveland Kydex for my CRKT Chogan Tomahawk, I didn’t like the fact that a hard drop or blow in the upright position (the way I normally carry it) could cause it to come out of the sheath. I remedied that issue by using some well placed elastic on the underside of the sheath.

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The elastic will catch either end of the tomahawk if it happened to slide out of the sheath.

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A well placed notch with the dremel tool on the bottom of the blade side will retain the tomahawk when the elastic is pulled out of the way for use. The backside, hammer end of the sheath already has a natural notch to catch the elastic when it’s pulled out of the way. 

For my Ontario Raider, I also have a Cleveland Kydex sheath. Since it didn’t come with a retention strap, I decided to put an elastic retention strap on it as well.

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The elastic retention strap can be easily moved with either hand when drawing the knife. 

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The elastic retention strap has a spot to sit out of the way without needing anything added. 

As I said earlier, we always made sure our gear was secured when we were in the field in the Infantry. No feeling is worse than finding out an important piece of gear is missing because it was not secured properly. It could be the difference between life and death.

JCD,

“Parata Vivere”- Live Prepared.