Modern Homesteading, Rural Living, Off-Grid, Generators
You will find the idea of prepping more and more in the news. Many fear our food supply may be compromised. Others fear civil unrest. Still others want to be self-sustaining in the event of a weather catastrophe or other emergency.
Prepping and preparing for “what if”
Whatever the motivation, it’s always wise to be prepared. We can all learn some practical, easy-to-implement tips, just in case. We offer lots of great advice about getting started prepping as well as information for the experienced prepper.
Whether you live on a rural homestead or in a busy city, taking steps to prep can be invaluable. We discuss essential items to have on hand as well as what to start buying in bulk. Survivalists, preppers and those just wanted to have a bit of a backup plan can all benefit from learning from experienced preppers. It has become almost a hobby for some of us. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, nor does your stockpile have to take up a lot of space. However, all of your planning will become invaluable should you and your family ever need it.
In our Troop we prefer the Heavy Duty Silver Grizzly Tarps.
Heavy duty tarps made with attention to detail quality
We’ve used Grizzly Tarps to make a shelter for a group of boys who’s tent got damage during transportation, create an adult cooking canopy, cover equipment and cover equipment on a trailer during a 700 mile camping and backpacking trip.
I recently used one of the Troop’s Grizzly Tent to cover my tent during a cold Arizona Mountain campout.
This picture was taken at about 5,000 ft where the night time temperature dipped below freezing every night.
Grizzly Tarps – Best Heavy Duty Tarps
I’ll usually pack a tarp of two when I’m venturing into the wilderness.
Our Boy Scout Troop takes 3 to 4 Heavy Duty Grizzly Tarps.
They are that useful and versatile.
A Tarp Is Just a Tarp, Right?
I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve got a tarp. It’s nothing to write home about.”
That might be because you haven’t tried Grizzly Tarps.
I was once like you.
I’d head to the hardware store, or Harbor Freight, to get a tarp.
Usually, I’d just buy the cheapest one in the size that seemed appropriate.
I’d take it camping or use it for one of the other purposes that you might need a tarp for, but the result was always the same.
The first good gust of wind would rip it, and it never quite seemed to be up to the task at hand.
Before I knew it, I was back at the hardware store getting another tarp.
Grizzly Tarps outlast the others
Not anymore. Our Grizzly Tarps have outlasted — by far — any other tarp we have ever had. Even more, they are still in brand new shape.
These Grizzly heavy duty tarps still look brand new; they look hardly used.
Both our family and Boy Scout Troop use the heavy duty Silver Grizzly Tarps exclusively.
The upshot is that those inexpensive tarps weren’t really inexpensive.
Nothing that you have to repeatedly buy is affordable, especially when that something is an item that you should be durable.
I expect to buy groceries every week. Food is perishable, and it also gets consumed.
NO MORE CHEAP TARPS!
Tarps should be built to last.
Grizzly Tarps are Different
Getting acquainted with a Grizzly was a revelation for me.
At first, the price took me by surprise, but when I started to study the product, I realized that this was no ordinary tarp.
Heavy duty tarp
No, this was a genuine, heavy duty tarp.
Piping on borders
One of the first things that I noticed was the piping on the borders.
It was immediately clear to me that this was a tarp I could use even in high-wind situations.
It hardly matters how tight I strap it down or what kind of stress I put on it. The Grizzly wasn’t going to tear.
Another feature that I find is invaluable is the grommets.
They are placed at 34-inch intervals.
This means that no matter how I’m using this tarp, it can be securely tied down.
No more flapping in the breeze when the tarp is covering a load in the back of my truck.
The weave on my first Grizzly tarp also set it apart from the competition.
It was an eight by eight weave, impressively tight and designed for competitive durability.
The laminated polyethylene material was built to last, and that was something that I tested repeatedly.
The manufacturer highlighted many features: waterproof, mildew-proof and washable.
Once again, I found that my expectations were exceeded.
This heavy duty tarp was just what I needed to take my outdoor adventures to the next level.
Then, I Discovered Silver Grizzly Tarps
The first Grizzly Tarp I encountered was a standard blue-color tarp.
Of course, I could see that the color was the only respect in which the Grizzly resembled other tarps.
Then, I discovered that Grizzly makes a tarp that’s meant for even more stressful applications.
These silver tarps are remarkable, and once I discovered them, there was no going back.
Highly Recommend the Silver Heavy Duty Grizzly Tarp
Grizzly constructs these tarps out of an incredibly tight 14 by 14 polyethylene weave.
That means that these tarps are even more durable than the blue version.
Plus, the silver tarp has grommets placed at every 18 inches and a thickness of 10 mils.
The result is a heavy duty tarp that’s pretty much the best in the business.
If you need a robust tarp that can stand up to just about anything, then the silver Grizzly is for you.
One of the other aspects of the silver tarps that I appreciate is that they are UV proof.
UV rays are damaging to pretty much anything, so this extra layer of protection can be really important.
That’s especially true if you’re like me and you use your tarps constantly. And living in Arizona at a higher altitude, you have to watch out for sun damage during the summer months.
The Right Size for Every Application
The blue tarps from Grizzly are available in a range of sizes.
They are as small as five by seven feet and as large as 30 feet by 40 feet.
I haven’t had occasion to buy the largest size yet, but I don’t rule it out.
Silver Grizzlies are available in four sizes that include:
8 x 10
12 x 20
20 x 30
This diversity of sizes makes these tarps right for any application.
You Can Use Tarps Anywhere
This is especially true when they’re manufactured by Grizzly.
In fact, Grizzly sells its products to consumers and for industrial purposes.
In my job, I don’t have any need to use tarps, but if I did, I’d insist upon a Grizzly.
These products have proven themselves to me time and again.
Here are a few of the ways that I’ve used a Grizzly Tarps:
Whether you are camping in the Rocky Mountains, hiking the Grand Canyon rim,visiting Canada or bringing beverages for a sporting event, you will love having your Orca backpack cooler with you.
Outdoor enthusiasts know Orca for its exceptional line of coolers and drinkware. We own the Orca Pod backpack cooler. Living in hot, dry Tucson, AZ, it’s been a lifesaver for us.
Orca Backpack Coolers
Orca offers a variety of coolers. They make their backpack coolers in two sizes. We’ve never owned or even seen a backpack cooler until getting the Orca Pod.
We weren’t sure how it would work, what we would be able to fit, and how easy it would be to carry.
Realtree Max 5 Pod Backpack Cooler
The Pod holds 7.13 gallons (28.5 quarts). This is the larger of Orca’s two backpack coolers.
We have the camo print, called the Realtree Max 5. My husband plans on taking it Elk hunting this fall.
To give an idea of it’s size, you can put 15 pounds of ice in it along with 24 cans. While carrying all of this for a long time might pose a challenge for some, what’s great about this cooler is you have the option to carry it many different ways.
With traditional coolers you can only carry them by the handle, oftentimes with the cooler hitting you in the leg as you carry it. With the Pod, you can easily carry it on your back, using your body to manage the weight of whatever you put in the cooler.
While many people wouldn’t hike for miles with the max load of 59.5 pounds on their backs, it’s great the cooler can bear this weight, as drinks and ice are heavy.
Also, you can definitely comfortably carry it from your car to your campsite or picnic when it’s filled. The straps are padded. They are also adjustable, so whoever carries the cooler can get a good, stable fit.
It keeps food and drinks very cold, so even if you want to use it for hiking, you can manage it. You may just not want to use as much ice, so it will be lighter.
Orca Pod cooler review
We’ve used this cooler so far for camping with Boy Scouts, local sightseeing, on road trips, putting groceries in it while driving home, and for our kids’ sports.
Our favorite use has been taking it along with us when we sat through our kids’ brutally hot May and June weekend sports games and tournaments. Again, we live in Tucson, Arizona.
Sometimes we would be there all day — up to eight or nine hours — and having this cooler was an absolute blessing. In the mornings we would load it with ice, lots of water, sandwiches, lots of snacks, and even four cool towels.
Sometimes my husband would carry it, and other times we put it in our portable, collapsible wagon with our chairs. Even in the 100+ degree heat, we enjoyed cold drinks and intact food. My kids liked that their granola bars and sandwiches were as they would have been at home — cool and not melting.
We’ve also taken our Pod backpack cooler on road trips and local sightseeing. We have family that lives two hours away, and we often bring snacks for our kids as well as food for dinner for everyone.
In the summer months, we’ve put food in it — ice cream novelties, etc. — so it would keep on our 30 minute commute home from Costco. We didn’t even put ice in it always; it was just to keep it out of the sun.
It fits easily in our car, isn’t cumbersome, and is a great size for food, ice and drinks.
While we occasionally wipe it out, we always air it out to be sure it’s dry before we close it.
More features of the Orca Backpack
The interior is anti-microbial. It’s BPA-free and made with FDA-approved, food-grade materials.
The cooler walls are sturdy and reinforced. You can stack things on top of the cooler without worrying about it caving in.
Your drinks will stay cold in this cooler, for hours longer than you need them to. Just for fun, I put ice cubes in the cooler — filled about a quarter of the way — with nothing else. I put it outside on the sun-exposed hot brick on a 110 degree June day. I put it out in the morning by 8am (already in the nineties) and there was still ice in it by 7pm. Some had melted, but the vast majority was remaining which is incredible.
You can just tell it’s very well made. There is a heavy-duty zipper that’s very sturdy and seals completely.
We really enjoy using our Orca Pod backpack cooler. It’s been our go-to cooler now, no matter what we are doing or where we are going.
We like that it’s fairly light when it’s empty — 6.6 pounds (3 kg) — and that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in our trunk.
It measures: 18″ length x 11″ width x 18″ height.
Podster Backpack Cooler
The Podster, the smaller of the two, holds 3.5 gallons (14.25 quarts). Orca describes it as a day pack.
We own the larger one, the Pod, and haven’t used this cooler, the Podster.
However, while we don’t own it, I wanted to discuss how practical this cooler would be due to its smaller size. The Podster would be a great cooler to take hiking, short trips, really anywhere.
I could see our family using the Podster often. Being we live in a hot and dry climate, we carry water bottles with us everywhere we go, all year.
From April through November, when we set out across town, or sometimes even jaunts that are just 30 minutes, we usually pack extra water, just in case.
Also, with kids, I’m forever packing snacks. During the hot summer months, you can’t leave anything in the car with the heat, especially food.
It would be perfect to put everything in this Podster, eliminating the need for multiple bags, etc. I would easily just put my ice or ice packs in it along with water and snacks.
This seems like it would be convenient to take to the zoo, sporting events, and trips to the park. You would be able to carry it hiking or pretty much anything you wanted to do.
It comes in Fuschia, Seafoam/Grey, Coral/Grey, and Realtree Max 5 Camo.
It’s a bit smaller than the Pod, measuring 15″ length x 9″ width x 15″ height. Empty, it weighs 3.6 pounds (1.6 kg). Even though it’s small, it can hold up to 28.5 pounds.
Best backpack cooler
These are such high-quality coolers, and depending on your situation, both sizes are convenient. They are made to withstand weather and elements, keeping your food and drinks cold.
If you packed it with ice and put frozen foods inside, like steak, fish, etc., they would stay frozen for a long time safely. The Pod would be great to take if you are wanting to vacation off-the-grid for awhile or going to a rural or remote location.
Orca backpack coolers are portable, lightweight, and roomy.
Orca Backpack Coolers
There are many other great things about their backpack coolers. They are handy for hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, road trips and even for airplane traveling.
The compact sizes allow them to fit well in the overhead storage compartments of planes and trains, making them useful for almost any type of travel that your creative mind can dream up!
And while they are soft-sided, they are very sturdy and aren’t collapsible; they would withstand the demands of traveling.
Other features include padded straps with the addition of a T-strap across the chest to help distribute the weight when it is full.
The Pod and the Podster are manufactured with vacuum-sealed inner and outer walls.
While the Pod holds up to 24 cans with 15 pounds of ice, the Podster can accommodate 12, 12-ounce cans with 7.5 pounds of ice.
You can open and close either cooler and after days, most of the ice will still be intact.
What characteristics do the Orca Coolers have in common?
Both the Podster and the Pod include a tough inner shell made of foam and reinforced inner and outer walls that keep the cooler’s shape and prevent crushing and scratching.
Both models have doubly sealed waterproof zippers that prevent air and melted ice from leaking from the flip top.
The material surrounding the zipper is equally as tough and is designed to prevent rips, cuts, and is BPA-free and antimicrobial.
Orca has built them to keep your food not only cool and but safe, too.
Besides being covered with a tough vinyl, the Pod and the Podster include several sets of canvas straps.
These straps allow you to add a variety of accessories, such as a wine bottler opener or maybe your eating utensils.
Inside these backpack coolers is a shell made of a closed cell foam that prevents leakage and maintains stability, keeping your food and beverages at the correct temperature.
The well-padded shoulder straps of the Pod and Podster help distribute weight and keep the person carrying the cooler comfortable.
The Podster also has a third strap, called a T-strap, for use across the chest to help balance the cooler when it is full. (Remember, this one holds 59.5 pounds!)
Orca backpack cooler is built for functionality
These coolers are built for functionality. No oddly shaped pockets adorn them, only the canvas straps useful for accessories and tools.
With the lifetime warranty offered by Orca, the Pod and Podster backpack coolers will serve you for years.
Once you realize all the ways these coolers can be useful, you’ll find yourself using them for more than just hiking and camping.
Orca Chaser Travel Mug
We love our backpack cooler, and we were equally surprised at how much we enjoy the Orca Chaser.
This tumbler holds 27 ounces.
We have the Realtree Max 5 Chaser which is one of over 10 of their camo patterns. The Realtree Max 5 matches our Pod cooler.
We own a lot of travel mugs, travel cups, hot/cold cups, etc. “It’s just another travel mug,” is what I thought when I saw it. However, it has quickly become my husband’s ABSOLUTE FAVORITE to use.
He uses his Orca Chaser on a daily basis, at home and while commuting. He uses it all the time, so much so, that I haven’t ever used it.
However, on a long car ride, I asked him what made it his favorite — and he has a lot of tumblers, travel mugs, etc. “What makes the Orca so much better?” I asked him.
He really couldn’t say enough about it. He likes that it fits well in his hand and in the cup holder in both of our vehicles. And yes, it keeps his coffee hot and his ice and drinks cold.
But what he loves is the most is the tight seal and the lid.
He loves the lid. It doesn’t snap on; there’s a piece that fits into the mouth opening and holds it closed. He said, “The lid makes the cup.” It’s what sets it apart from all the others.
Orca Chaser holds 27 oz
They are made with 18/8 stainless steel and have a vacuum-sealed body to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.
The lid is Tritan polymer. It has a sip hole that can be used as is or with a straw.
Orca Chaser colors
There are dozens of color varieties and patterns available for the Orca Chaser. Unlike the stainless steel option, all of the other colors and patterns come with a transparent polymer lid in colors that compliment the travel mugs.
They have a stunning array of pastels, including floral patterns, including desert cacti, palm leaves, and flamingos.
There are also high gloss finishes in solid colors. You can even get an Orca tumbler with one of the state flags, NCAA teams, NHL teams, and more.
What else makes Orca travel mugs the best?
All of the travel mugs include self-sealing lids, easy-to-clean exteriors and interiors, and the double-wall vacuum-sealed technology found in Orca’s popular hard- and soft-sided coolers.
And with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma wreaking havoc on Texas and Florida this year, we’re seeing what can happen if you ignore preparations.
While you probably already have a generator in case of power outages, it’s important to have a backup for your cooling system.
In warm climates like Texas and Florida, heat stroke is a very real possibility.
Power outages pose a more serious threat than losing the food in your freezer: you can lose your life.
Having a portable air conditioner in conjunction with your generator won’t just keep comfortable in a disaster.
It might just save your life.
If you need to evacuate before a storm, bringing a portable cooling unit can also make sure that you have reliable cooling wherever you take shelter from the storm.
Best portable room air conditioner
Make Vacations Comfortable
Whoever said your air conditioner has to stay at home?
If you spend a fair amount of time on the open road in your RV, you might be painfully aware that most RVs don’t have very good cooling units.
Bring your mobile air conditioner in the RV or mobile home to make camping a comfortable, luxurious experience.
You could even put it in a large tent!
Just because you’re “roughing it,” that doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.
Some of the thing to consider:
What are your power usage/needs
How/where it will vent
How many BTUs?
What is a portable air conditioner?
Indoor air conditioners are also known as mobile or portable air conditioners.
They are small, standalone AC units.
Most often, a mobile air conditioner will be a little bigger than a space heater, and will operate in much the same way.
Good quality portable air conditioners are usually between 8,000 BTU and 10,000 BTU.
They are often used to cool a single room, so they aren’t a good option for someone trying to replace a central cooling unit.
They can be used almost anywhere, provided they have a place to exhaust warm air.
A portable unit is less expensive than a central unit and more versatile than a window unit, which makes it a great option for anyone looking for a little more comfort in their home. Air Conditioning Maintenance
Best portable AC unit
Whether you’re looking for a backup in case of emergency, a serious camper with a taste for luxury, or just trying to cool your home more effectively, a portable air conditioner is the right choice.
These are among the best portable air conditioners: