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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DIY - Oil Lantern

These things have multiple uses - from an emergency light source to a functional backyard ornament. It's very cheap to make and very efficient lighting - in comparison to other things I found around the house... candles, tea lights. Of course, nothing comes close to some of my flashlights in terms of light output, but in terms of a make-fast solution, this more than fits the bill.

I went to the buck store today to get material to try this out. I had posted a youtube video about this and have been meaning to test it out ever since. I had originally just wanted to use this, as stated, in the backyard in the summertime for a bit of ambient lighting. That said, I can absolutely see the value in this type of project for use in an emergency. Even just the knowledge of how to pull it off - if you didn't want to make one right away.

I got a couple different sized mason-type jars with fold over lids. The rest I had laying around the house.

Other items I used were a bit of paracord, a couple peices of cotton rope from a mop head, a wire coat hanger and a bit of trapping wire.

I cut off pieces of the wire hanger to act as a handle for both the jar itself and a separate one for the wick - to be able to adjust it if need be. I used the bit of trapping wire to secure the wick. I used the paracord to cobra-stitch the handle with a decorative monkey fist knot on the end.

Basically - follow the youtube link I posted and have at it. Test your kit before you need it - and have a big BBQ, it's a great excuse to make a bunch of these.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I couldn't think of a more fitting title for this particular bit of opinion. Given recent numbers from Canada's 2008 election, close to 40% of Canadian youth voted. A lot of people see this number and automatically attribute the lack of interest to the 'kids these days'...

I think we should all remember, coming up to a federal election that every vote counts. That said, even the people who choose not to vote are voicing a certain concern. Maybe some don't care altogether. Maybe some choose not to vote for the 'lesser evil'. In any case, these are all legitimate reasons not to vote - because living here, we have the choice.

Just a different view. Thoughts?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Dollar Store Camp Stove

In the buck store today - I stumbled upon this little gem. It cost two dollars; how could I NOT try one?

The packaging said it included fuel tablets - so I took the whole thing out of the box to give it a look. After unfolding it, I threw it back into the box and decided to wait until I got home to take the 'closer look'.

It did in fact include a pre-packaged set of 'fuel tablets'. I'm not sure what they are made of, but they sure stink when they burn. I tested one on my 'garbage grill' - the one I test stuff on. I held an open flame to the tablet for 12 seconds to no avail in a light wind. When I shut the lid on the grill and tried again - a flame!

The tablet held a flame, but I had nothing to test how long it took to boil. In any case, I plan on using this as a last-resort stove to be heated with a super cat stove.

An excellent buy - even if it doesn't last decades, it will stay in my pack until I need it.

Search: what you want to read.

Based on a few observations I've made, user's on this site had requested some type of search-enabled feature to make finding certain content easier.

I've moved the search box up one spot on the side bar, on the right hand side of the page.

Most articles are labelled, as per their content.

Searches such as; 'information, mindset and review' will turn up multiple results, whereas searches like 'review snap caps 870' will turn up specific results - if we have them.

All new articles will be labelled accordingly, only the oldest articles are not labelled.

Thanks for the support - and thanks for the suggestions.

Fight the wolves.

Review: Meal Kit Supply MRE's Part 4 of 4

Well, it's been a while since part 3. No real good reason for that... life is bigger than the internet I suppose. Yet, here we are. I'd like to wrap this series up by doing a couple of things - I'd like to review the final MRE provided by Meal Kit Supply, and I'd like to do a quick comparison to those readily available civilian alternatives. I'm not going to go into great detail regarding the alternative options; this is a Meal Kit Supply review, not a Army Surplus review.

And here we are, the final episode in a four part series dedicated to the review of Meal Kit Supply MRE's. I've grown accustomed to the staples of this product. The lemon-lime juice, the instant coffee... My wife always takes the hot chocolate before I can even think of getting to it.

This last MRE of four sent to me by the staff at Meal Kit Supply had a few things we had not yet gotten to sample. The first thing I wanted to try was the cookie... my wife was at a baby shower today and I had to take advantage of this opportunity; dessert before dinner!

On opening the package, for the first time out of any of the MRE contents, I heard the 'whissssssp' of the vaccum seal breaking. Immediately I could smell the sweet cookie. I didn't know what to make of the description - "pan coated chocolate discs"... just means candy coated chocolate chips. The best way I can describe this cookie is to compare it to those 'Mr. Christie' cookies I used to get as a kid. Good stuff - and would be a nice treat on the trail. Really flaky, something I didn't expect out of an MRE.

Next I opened up the crackers. Not much to say here at all. Look at them more as a 'foodstuff' than an actual supplement to a meal. Tasteless and crispy, but they get food in your belly.

Tasteless, yes. But when you open up that cheese-spread... that's better. Easiest comparison to make here is to something along the lines of 'cheese whiz'. It's a little stronger though. Perhaps that has something to do with the 'fortified' labeling on the tube.

I followed direction and kneaded the tube before applying a generous amount to my crackers. I was happy to find that the spread was not 'greasy' as I can often find off-brand cheese spreads to be. Again, stronger than regular 'cheese-whiz' and tasty.

Next, I opened up the first of two included entree's. I had Mexican Rice and Chicken with Dumplings in this package. In all honesty, I wasn't hyper to try the chicken with dumplings. My mind, again, ran into the field of 'what MRE's look like'. I had envisioned a baggie of grossness - and was afraid to ruin my admiration for actual dumplings.

I am happy to report that the chicken and dumplings pack was not terrible. Actually - it basically just tasted like a cream of chicken soup. I couldn't distinguish any difference between the 'dumplings' and the rest of the mush in there, but I am fine with that - it tasted good and my wife would be happy to know that I even ate the 'peas'.

The mexican rice was exactly as I expected it to be. It's the same kind of mixture you'd find in an Uncle Bens Express type of rice mix. It had a little bit more zip though, and people who are sensitive to hot foods might get a little fussy over this, but I didn't call it 'hot' - I practically drown my food in Franks on a nightly basis; I like a little bit of kick.

And with that - I think we're safe to say that this review series has finally come to a close. Meal Kit Supply was kind enough to supply us with a few of their products for review. I dealt directly with customer service, who were helpful and nice to provide sheepdog readers with a limited time coupon for cases of MRE products.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Meal Kit Supply MRE's are not just 'survival food'. Most of the food we tested was really good to eat. Nutritious and cost-effective for those on the run or otherwise disabled from food storage of larger, bulkier products. It's an all-in-one food solution for the hiker, camper, worker or preparedness-minded individual.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions about my experience with the company, the product or otherwise, the review process. We were not paid or 'reimbursed' in any way for doing this series of reviews. We're non-partisan and non-biased - hopefully you've found this helpful and informative. Meal Kit Supply has earned my personal seal of approval; quality products at a competitive price.


A quick look at the competition...

I feel it's my responsibility to give a contrast here. Some kind of comparison. Granted, I won't be going into any kind of detail about these products - I just want to bring in some competition. These products are readily available by a number of sources at this time. I found the IMP at my local army surplus store. I also found the Mountain House meal there.

The prices are relative - but the quality is not. Some major problems I had were as follows:

  • Mountain House meal requires boiled water - in some situations this is just not possible. I don't care what gear you're humping - if you don't have a water source, you can't boil it; that's why they're called emergencies.
  • I couldn't find a date of manufacture on the surplus meal - the guy behind the counter said... it doesn't matter; in terms of long-term storage, I personally need at least a posted best-before date, qualified by the factory directly.
Now - I'm sure that fresh IMP's are tasty - but why risk it?

Lastly, the bread in the IMP, as compared to Meal Kit Supply's MRE - was NOT good at all. In fact, it tasted sour and I immediately stopped eating it. Wheat Snack Bread - now that's a treat.

Again - I don't want to review these products, just simply to state some observations I had when comparing them directly to Meal Kit Supply MRE's. And yes, of course I'm leaving some things out - the focus here is on Meal Kit Supply.

Reviews inbound!

A few things I've purchased after lots of personal research, that I plan on reviewing...

-Dollar store camp stoves: I bought 3 of them. After taking them out of the package, I initially found them to be VERY sturdy. They come with solid fuel tablets.

-Outbound backpack - steel framed.

-North 49 Firesteel

-Katadyn MyBottle

-Colombia Omni-Tech waterproof jacket.

As soon as the weather brightens up a little bit - it's still snowing here... - I'll have adequately field tested these things and will type up a good review on each item.

Civilian Sheepdog - Philosophies I

Would you, the reader, like to see more videos from

Monday, April 11, 2011


And so - we Ontarians think it might finally be safe to say... the nice weather is CLOSE!

We've learned not to say that it's finally here - just close.

So, with the nice weather comes our longing for the outdoors. We've stayed inside for the long winter months and now we can finally crawl out of our caves.

My local bait shop informs me that a new fishing license is a little over 25 bucks. Add to that a few lures and a new spool of line, and that's a few good weekends out and about. More than that, it's time spent honing a very valuable skill.

Look for a review of my new hiking pack and a few more things on first aid - I'll do a pictorial review of my Level I FAK.

Happy trails.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How To Tie The Monkey's Fist - HD

Very well done tutorial on this particular knot - used by me for finishing paracord lanyards.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Meal Kit Supply Part 3 of 4

Welcome back!

Part three of our four part look at the product supplied to us by Meal Kit Supply. We've reviewed two different MRE's and we're here to look at the third of four. Unfortunately, there wasn't much more to this one than there was to the others that we had sampled.

First of all, I can't go on enough about the Wheat Snack Bread!

When I opened this MRE up and saw that it included a Snack Bread - I immediately opened it up and took a bite. Awesome.

One thing that was included in this MRE that hadn't been included in any others was a little packet of silica-type substances. It's to keep everything fresh. Nice to see.

If you meet me in a situation where we're eating MRE's and want to trade a poptart for your Snack Bread... just ask.

Really tasty. However - I didn't have the jam this time, I had peanut butter. I don't personally like peanut butter. I don't have an allergy, but I just don't like it. Gave it to my wife to try - she said it was like any other peanut butter she had tried, and liked it.

The biggest thing included in this MRE that we hadn't tried before was the Mixed Fruit. It is packaged in a cardboard box - one thing I thought was really neat was the inclusion of a post card. When you flip the package over, there's a spot to write out a post card. Could be me, but I thought that was a really useful idea for the packaging.

So - it's basically what you used to eat as a kid. Like a fruit cup in a bag. Good, sweet and sugary. Would prove to be a good snack and definitely a morale booster. My wife agrees - really good.

As I had said before, we got a bunch of stuff we had reviewed before in this pack, so we only really wanted to focus on the things we hadn't touched on yet. This portion of the review turned out not to be as long and detailed as the other parts - just because we didn't have as much material.

Touch back for part 4 and a comparison of popular consumer-grade MRE's. Again, these products seem, on the surface, only suited to emergencies - however, the food enclosed is really tasty and could easily be taken to eat on a hike, in a boat or on a sunday afternoon - in your living room. Might be pricey to eat regularly, and I'm no nutritionist, but it's much more than 'emergency food'.

Buddy Burner

After reading a post on CGN, I ventured out to my local dollar store to pick up material.

I got - 10 'emergency' candles. Just straight white wax candles, about an inch think by an inch and a half tall. Yep. That's about it.

I took an old soup can and bent the top to make a little spout.

I gathered 4 old catfood cans I had been collecting since hearing about this project - cleaned out and the label taken off.

I also gathered a bunch of sawdust from work. More on that later.

One more thing I got ready was a few egg carton shells.

So - the basic premise is this; I wanted to make 2 things, a couple firestarters and a few 'buddy burners'. I added the sawdust that I used to make the firestarters to the buddy burners, hoping that if I ever needed them as a firestarter as well, they could double as such.

Under no circumstances should this article be taken as a 'you should do' speech. These instructions are provided as educational material only.

So, I put my 'wax can' in a pot of water and put the heat on high. As you can see I put a little divet in the can to aid in pouring the wax. I cut some strips of cardboard out and rolled them into the cans of catfood - directions taken from above CGN post.

Once some wax is melted down, I poured it on top of the cardboard and sawdust in the little cans. I put wax in the egg cartons as well, mixed up with sawdust for little firestarters. It all worked well, as far as I know. We tested them out in the backyard - they worked really well and I'll be adding them to my camping and hiking kit.