Survival-Pax Blog: December 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Updates & Weekend Adventure & Christmas Wishes

Charity Auction Updates

The Spyderco Ladybug that was auctioned off for charity.
So, the results of the Cutlerylover Tortured Ladybug Auction were surprising, to say the least. Personally, I would have thought that the knife would have sold for more than $20. It's humorous really, because people on Jeff's (Cutlerylover) YouTube Video were saying that the auction should have started at $2,000. I guess it just goes to show that a lot of people say things that they don't actually intend on committing to.

Anyways, $20 will be donated to charity. I'm sure that it will help in a small way, at least.

General Updates

So, I've been planning on making a video for some time now. I actually went out to record a video about a week and a half ago. After many technical difficulties and a rigid time schedule, we weren't able to use the footage to make a video. It comes with the territory, I guess. Combined with the Christmas rush here, at Survival-Pax, I haven't been able to get out to make any new videos for the past few weeks.

Despite that, I do have plans on doing a lot of recording next week, to have footage for videos for the weeks to come. My goal is still to put out at least one video every two weeks and I will try to work as hard as I can to make that happen.

Weekend Adventure

Walking on a frozen river is fun, but watch out for thin ice.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of helping lead my local Boy Scout troop on a winter camping trip. There were 13 of us and we stayed in a single cabin. To make the trip more interesting, the cabin had no insulation and no automatic heating. The only source of heat was a wood-burning stove, which forced all of us to learn how to maintain the stove if we wanted to keep warm. Combined with the fact that the temperature outside was about 4 °F at night, maintaining the stove was critical if we wanted to keep warm that weekend.

The campground had a very cool suspension bridge.
The whole weekend was a learning experience. The leaders, myself included, figured that having the stove full of wood would last us most of the night. Well, needless to say, we were wrong. I woke up at 3:00 am, shivering in my sleeping bag and trying to figure out if it was worth it to get up and put more wood in the stove. I ended up getting up and adding wood to the stove. After getting it nice and hot, I walked past the stove and smelled something. I noticed that I had brushed up against the stove, scorching my jacket in the process. The stove was so hot that it melted the fabric of my jacket instantly. Needless to say, we were warm for the rest of the night, but now I'm in the market for a new jacket.

Apart for my jacket getting burned, one of the kids ended up jumping out of his bed while playing and he ended up touching the stove with his hand. That gave him some small second degree burns, which weren't that bad. It could've been worse. I'm glad that I brought a first aid kit. (See, you should always have a first aid kit with you!) While it's necessary that we had a stove for warmth, it really was a big liability. After the kid got hurt, we made doubly sure that everyone was careful about what they did when they walked around it.

Cooking hot dogs over a fire.
My favorite thing that we did last weekend was hike around the campgrounds. The grounds were amazing, especially with the weather that we had. We walked along some wooded trails and even walked on a frozen lake and river. The rest of the weekend's events consisted of playing outside until we were cold, then coming in to warm up, then going back outside. The weather was great and the scenery was beautiful. Winter is my favorite season and I love being outside, if I can find a way to stay warm.

I taught the boys some outdoor skills, as well. I taught them how to split wood with a large knife (batoning) and how to start fires in the winter. During lunch on Sunday, we had to cook over a fire, so it was necessary to get it started in order to eat a warm meal. Easily enough, we got the job done, using some vaseline-soaked cotton balls as tinder, conveniently lit with a fire steel.

When we left on Monday, it started to snow pretty badly, making the return trip take nearly double the time it took us to get there. We got home safe, thankfully. Looking back, it was a great weekend, and I'm glad that I went. It's important to go on trips like that every once in a while to get out of the monotony of every day life.

Christmas Wishes

I also wanted to take the time to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas on behalf of all of us here at Survival-Pax. I hope that all of you will be spending the day with loved ones, remembering and appreciating all that is most important in life.
Don't forget the true meaning of Christmas.
Take care guys!

Simon - Survival-Pax Team Member

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cutlerylover Reverse Auction - Tortured Spyderco Ladybug

I do not know how many of you have heard of Cutlerylover, but he has a very popular YouTube channel that reviews all sorts of knives, zippos, flashlights, etc. His channel has been a personal favorite of mine for a while now.

Well, I am happy to announce that we are working together with Jeff (Cutlerylover), to have a charity auction right in time for Christmas. The auction will be for a Spyderco Ladybug knife that he did a torture test on to see the resilience of Spyderco's H1 Stainless Steel. It was actually very surprising to see what that knife was able to endure.

    This knife withstood:
  • 14 days in a salt-water bath
  • Being frozen in ice, then chopped with a hatchet
  • 5 days in Bleach!
  • Going through a drier under High heat
  • 5 minutes in a wood-burning stove!

The same tests actually made a Victorinox Classic partially dissolve, which was fun to see.
You can find that video here.

For those that haven't seen the series of torture tests, I will show you guys the first one below.



The auction for the Spyderco ladybug will be a reverse auction. It will work like this. The auction will start at a high price, then go down a set amount every 5 minutes until it is sold. Since there is only one in stock, the first one to complete the checkout process will win the knife.

Here's a video of Jeff (Cutlerylover) explaining the whole process.



So, I plan on having an update video soon explaining our progress at Survival-Pax. In the meantime, I hope that all of you guys are staying warm, with all the recent snowstorms across America.

Take care guys!

Simon - Survival-Pax Team Member

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Choose a Flashlight

I know that many of you know a lot about flashlights. Some of you probably know more than I do, which is great. I'm here to learn things as well. That said, I wanted to share what I know, since I also know that many of you guys do not know very much about flashlights.

The tiny Preon 1 is great for every day carry (EDC)
but lacks the brightness of larger flashlights.
All of the high-tech terms thrown around can be very confusing. I know that they were confusing to me at one time. Terms such as lumen, LED, mAh, etc. can seem like alphabet soup. Well, I hope to shed some light on these flashlight terms (pun intended) and help you see what it's all about (oh stop with the lame jokes already).

First of all, it's important to understand a few simple things that are true with all forms of technology, not just with flashlights. With a given technology, the more functionality that an object has, the larger it is going to be, although there can be exceptions. If you want a flashlight that mimics the brightness of the sun, it will probably be too large to carry in your pocket easily. Likewise, if you want a teeny tiny little flashlight that you can carry around with you without even noticing that it's on your person, then it will not be the brightest light on the market. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you have to pick the right tool for the job in order to minimize the weight that you'll be carrying around with you.

So, first ask yourself, what will you be using this flashlight for? Will it be for every day carry? Will it be for work? Will it be for emergency use?
The Quark 123, at 174 lumens,
is MUCH brighter than a Maglite.

Asking yourself these questions will help you determine what sort of flashlight you will need; whether it needs to be small and light, or whether it can be larger and heavier. It will help you determine how bright the light needs to be, how far it needs to shine, even what battery it should use.

Ok, so, what should I get already?

Well, I should mention one more thing. How much money are you willing to spend? We all know that quality comes at a price. The cheaper things cost, the cheaper they are in their quality, usually. You usually have to spend a little more to get a quality item. You don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money, but you can't be cheap either.

If you aren't into flashlights but are reading this in anticipation of making a purchase, I will say that you probably need to spend a little more than you would have normally thought to get a quality flashlight. Sure, you can go with a $15 Maglite, but you'll get about 1/10th of the light of a $50 Quark 123. Was it worth going the less expensive route? Probably not.

So, after having acknowledged that you might have to spend a couple more bucks than you initially wanted to, and after having figured out what you need the light for, lets get into some helpful tips about flashlight choices, starting the most important part of the flashlight. The...

Emitter

The LED emitter is clearly seen on this Preon 2.
The emitter is the part of the flashlight that shines. It is what converts electrical energy from your batteries into usable light for you to see. Nowadays, the brightest and most efficient emitters on the market are LED's, which stands for Light Emitting Diode. Not going into too much technical detail, LED's use semiconductors to create light; they work much differently than your standard incandescent bulbs. LED technology used to be expensive. Now, this technology is affordable. Make sure that the flashlight that you choose has an LED emitter to maximize brightness and battery life.

LED flashlights can come in an array of multiple LED's or they can have one brighter, single LED. For maximum light output, maximum efficiency and the most perfect beam pattern, I recommend getting a single LED flashlight. Who wouldn't want the most...

Brightness

We all want bright flashlights. The brightness of a flashlight is generally measured in lumens. A lumen measures how much light is contained within a certain area. When talking about flashlights, lumens measure how much total light is put out by a light source. In order to keep this explanation simple and as non-technical as possible, I will not give you a scientific definition of a lumen. If you want one, click here. Instead, I will help you get a feel for how much a lumen really is, practically speaking.

Let's compare some everyday objects with their respective average lumen values:
Candle - 13 lumens
AA Powered Maglite - 15 lumens
Car Headlight - 700 lumens
100 Watt Incandescent Light Bulb - 1750 lumens

Since lumens measure total light output, notice that candles and light bulbs have a very high lumen rating, but they don't seem that bright. This is because the light from a candle or bulb is not directed in any particular direction, but is emitted in all directions.

What is it that directs the light from an emitter towards that which you want to illuminate? It is the...

Reflector

The Maelstrom G5 has a deep, smooth reflector.
What are these types of reflectors good for, again?
The choice in reflector is often something that is overlooked. The reflector is what helps determine the beam pattern that your flashlight will have. It is important to choose a flashlight with a quality reflector because a poor reflector will have artifacts (uneven spots) in the beam pattern.

A shallow, textured reflector will give a wide, soft beam pattern, whereas a deep, smooth reflector will have a more concentrated beam pattern. A wide beam pattern is great for up-close lighting while a concentrated beam pattern lets you illuminate far-away objects. So again, what kind of jobs do you need your flashlight to help you with? What kind of reflector do you need?


There are some things that will give you some multi-purpose use with your light. They are the...

Lighting Modes

Lighting modes give you versatility with your flashlight. They are the different ways in which the flashlight gives off light. Lighting modes usually dim the flashlight, letting you choose how much light you need in a given situation; this also helps conserve battery life. Certain lighting modes flash the emitter, giving you a Strobe mode, an S.O.S. mode or a Beacon mode, which can also be useful.

To give you a properly bright flashlight that lasts for a long time, you also need to choose the correct...

Batteries

The CR123A battery is great for powering flashlights.
Batteries are the fuel of a flashlight. Choosing the right flashlight involves choosing one that uses the right battery. Do you want a more commonly available battery such as the AA or AAA or do you want a higher-output, longer-lasting battery such as the CR123A or the smaller CR2? Considering the availability of a particular battery is very important when choosing a flashlight. If you can't get the correct batteries for your light, then it's just fancy-looking metal rod.

You choice in batteries will determine how bright the flashlight is and how long it will be able to shine for. Your standard AA or AAA batteries are usually alkaline, whereas newer battery designs such as the CR123A or CR2 are lithium cells. Alkaline batteries are less efficient in high-drain applications, such as those in a flashlight, making lithium cells usually the preferred choice.

Batteries are measured in mAh (miliampere-hours: a unit of power), which corresponds to how long of a runtime the flashlight can have. A AA alkaline battery, for example, has about 700 mAh of power, with a AAA alkaline battery having even less. Comparing that to the 1500 mAh that a CR123A battery has, it is a clear choice, as least when it comes to power, which battery is superior.

The CR123A and CR2 lithium cells also output 3.0V vs. the 1.5V of a AA or AAA battery. This increase in voltage lets the flashlight shine brighter. Flashlights that use CR123A or CR2 battery are usually brighter than those which use AA or AAA batteries.
The Quark MiNi AA² is long and thin
because it uses two AA batteries. 

As you can see, choosing the appropriate battery is important. Your choice in batteries will also determine the flashlight's...

Size & Shape

Since the body of the flashlight contains the batteries, the size and shape of a flashlight is partially determined by what type of battery it has to fit. If your battery is short and stout, such as the CR123A, then your flashlight will also be shorter and wider; reference the Quark MiNi 123. If you use a longer, thinner battery such as the AA, then your flashlight will also be long and thin; reference the Quark AA² Tactical. Using multiple batteries, likewise gives you a longer flashlight.

When determining which shape to choose, it is important to ask yourself if size is critical for the application at hand, or if you would rather have a flashlight that is more comfortable to hold. For a commonly used flashlight, I believe that it is important to have one that is easy to hold, so as to minimize it slipping or falling out of your hand.

Conclusion

So, that's just a brief (if you can call it brief) introduction to flashlight selection. There is a lot more that can go into choosing a flashlight, such as the method of turning it on (tailcap vs. twist bezel), the texturing on the outside, methods of carry, etc. but I didn't want to confuse you guys too much. I didn't even begin to get into headlamps...

As an introduction, I hope that this blog post will help you in choosing a flashlight. If there is something that you would like to ask or maybe you have some useful information to share, please feel free to comment on this post.

Take care guys!

Simon - Survival-Pax Team Member

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Introduction to Survival-Pax - Updates

Flashlight News/Updates

The Quark MiNi 123 is one of our best sellers.
Find our video review on the MiNi 123 here.
We apologize for not have enough 4Sevens flashlights to meet demand during the past week or so. We made a much larger order of flashlights that is expected to come on Friday, and we hope to not have a situation where we are out of stock for an extended period again. The success for the Black Friday Sale was much greater than anticipated, which is a good thing, but negative effects of that were that so many of you guys didn't get to purchase the flashlights that you wanted.

With that being said, we are going to extend the low prices on these flashlights for as long as possible, so that anyone that didn't get what they wanted will have an opportunity to. We really want to make sure that everyone that wants/needs a quality flashlight from us will have the opportunity to purchase one.

A number of the flashlights have the R5 LED. These are beginning to be phased out and are being replaced with newer versions which us the S2 LED. These versions are more expensive, so if you are looking for a good deal, look for the versions that use the S2 LED. Some R5 LED versions, such as the original MiNi 123, along with many colors of Preon 2, are no longer available, but are substituted with S2 LED versions..

Introduction to Survival-Pax

I hope that all of you enjoyed the video that I posted, introducing Survival-Pax and my plans for it. If you haven't seen you, you can find it by clicking here or going to the Survival-Pax YouTube Channel.

Below is a summary of what I talked about. It's what I used to prepare for the video.

Who am I? – My name is Simon. I have the leader of Survival-Pax, spearheading the Community.

I have an interest in helping people. I see a need for individuals to be more independent. There is such a sense of dependence in society, which isn’t bad in itself, but I feel like it’s gone too far. People expect others to take care of them, and rarely have a backup plan in case they don’t. This can lead to tragedy

Looking at recent disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, has shown that many people aren’t prepared. When they’re not, you can get riots, looting and even death. I want to share with you guys my knowledge, as well as learn from you, about how to prepare for situations where you and I might be cut off from basic essentials such as food, water, fuel, electricity, etc. Even being without a simple thing such as electricity can be an emergency. Can you imagine not having electricity for a month?

I have high hopes that my ideas for Survival-Pax will work out. I really do hope that we can use this opportunity and learn a lot from each other.

What is Survival-Pax?Survival-Pax is an online community aimed at helping its members prepare for emergencies. It is also a place where like-minded people can get to know each other, learn from each other, and have fun doing it.

My goal is see if we can lessen the barriers that exist in an internet community; where we can have a group of individuals that truly care for and help one another.

For now, our community consists of a YouTube channel, a Blog, a Facebook Page, a Twitter page and, last but not least, a store.

The Survival-Pax Store is here to support the Community. Often internet communities are spammed with advertisements from various sources, which can greatly detract from the whole experience. I don’t want that to happen. So what’s there to do? With the support of a dedicated store, the community free from ads, but still financially supported, allowing me and the rest of the Survival-Pax Team to work for this full time.

On the store, you will find many great products at excellent prices. Our product selection is always growing. The store is here to equip you with the proper tools to be prepared. It is aimed at offering products that are within everyone’s price range, as well as offering more specialized and expensive products for the more devoted individuals.

If there is a product that we do not stock, feel free let us know. Also, if any of you have any ideas on how to make the Survival-Pax Community more useful and fun, feel free to contact us.

That’s just a brief introduction to Survival-Pax. I hope that all of you are excited about what this community will become. I hope that, together, we can learn from each other and become better individuals through this experience.

Take care guys!

Simon – Survival-Pax Team Member

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