This weekend was my first real weekend camping trip of the season.  It’s primarily my go-to place for camping in the summer. It also may/could function as a secondary Bug Out location.  But more on that another time, and to my point, there was a LOT of work to do when we got there.  The grass in the field was waist high.  I could immediately see there was a lot of work to do over the course of the weekend.  It was 7:00 p.m. EST by the time we got to the camp site.  We had about 90 minutes of daylight left to get a common area mowed, and set up for and start a small fire, set up the tents, and get dinner started for the evening.  Fortunately, we have a pretty good routine going after years of camping with the same guy(s).

So, I had some plans to bring some gear and test it our and post additional articles about how it performed, but it turned out the weekend was more of a maintenance weekend at the camp site than not.  However, I did get the chance to test some new gear, by way of actually having to use it, so here are some of the basics for you.

I brought with me the following new items; new being different from what I might normally carry, and I will explain each one as we go…

United Cutlery Tailwind G-10 Tanto Blade Assisted Open KnifeMy folding knife: I normally carry a $20.00 Gerber Paraframe I folding knife with a serrated edge.  I love my Paraframe II.  But recently I have been romanced by the idea of assisted open.  That said, I also receive emails from readers time to time, asking for any low cost preps, so as modification to I picked up a low cost open assist knife from United Cutlery.  It’s a Assisted Open Tailwind G-10, and it only cost me roughly $14.00 delivered to my door.  Here are a few differences between my Paraframe I and the G-10.  First the handle of the G-10 is solid, textured and is easy to grip.  The assisted open feature is nice as well.  The G-10 has a lanyard holes on the end of it, does not have the serrated edge, like my Paraframe I, but does have a tanto point.  The blade is coated, and is 440 stainless steel.  440 is a little softer than I like to use, but the knife impressed me as being well built, heavy, and has the belt clip I like so I can slide it into my pocket and keep it handy at a moments notice.  It arrived, pretty sharp out of the box, and with a little coaxing from the sharpener is now razor sharp… It performex well all weekend with everything from cutting raw and cooked food to slicing away on wood… I may have found a lower cost knife that may replace my Paraframe as part of my EDC.  I did learn that I needed to be careful, however, after cutting myself Friday evening…

My Mag-Lite:  I genuinely like Mag-Lite flashlights… All my LEO friends have and use them, and I have always had and used them…  I have one in my nightstand that takes two D-Cell batteries, keep one in my truck that takes three D-Cell , and is the one I typically use for camping.  I’ve been thinking about replacing it, however with something smaller and LED lately, primarily for portability purposes, and battery life.  While at Lowe’s I was walking by the cash register area and noticed a stand with flashlights.  I took the moment and looked them over.  A mini Mag-Lite caught my eye.  It was a Mag-Lite LED XL50.  Armed with my smartphone, I did some quick research on ratings, and not being outside the price range of many online outlets I decided it was a good purchase for me.  Here’s my commentary:  It was a fantastic addition to my gear because it was brighter than my three D-Cell Mag-Lite, lighter (3 AAA batteries) and has three modes.  Full brightness, 25% brightness to save power, and a strobe light mode for emergency situations… In all a good buy.  Now for the bad (in my opinion), this should have a belt clip so I could slip it into my pocket and clip it to my pants pocket, shirt or jacket pocket, or my belt… That was the only bad item, and I think it was a great addition to my EDC.

Firesteel:  Normally, when I camp, I bring a lighter, matches, and a firesteel… This trip, being the first and grabbing gear and getting together rather quickly, I forgot the lighter and matches (or so I thought).  I think I was just a little excited to try a new Firesteel.  Recently, I picked up a Bear Grylls (Gerber) Firesteel.  Primarily I purchased it because the whole unit was under $10.00.  Here was the little bonus.  First, it is a good size, comfortable to hold, and inside has a 3/8″ thick Firesteel as the core rod.  The end cap on the end where the rod is stored comes off and houses two cotton balls… Good thing, because when I got around to thinking about starting the fire, I couldn’t find my matches or my lighter… It was getting dark and I was eager to get a fire started, and to relax.  So I pulled out my new Bear Grylls firesteel, pulled a cotton ball out of the other end, squirted a little hand sanitizer on the cotton ball to keep it burning longer,  scraped the  the coating off the firesteel, and then scraped harder for spark.  First shot, lit the cotton ball, lifted it with the steel scraper to the tinder (admittedly in this case it was paper), but my point is that we had fire, and if it were not for the cotton ball at the end of the new firesteel from Bear Grylls, I would have had to come up with a different solution, ala, run around in the woods putting together a tinder bundle to start the fire with…  Oh, and it has an emergency whistle

So for less than $50.00 I have three new EDC tools that can enhance my ability to survive if I needed to.  I like the fact that I added some additional portability to my gear as well with a smaller flashlight.  Well worth it.  The only downside to the camping trip is that there are now cell phone towers near where we go camping.  So much for serenity…

In the end it was a fantastic weekend for a camping trip…

Finally, I don’t feel that I am too good at writing reviews, probably because I have not really set criteria for reviewing equipment and gear yet.  I may do that in the coming weeks.  In the mean time, I hope some of this helps you to decide on some gear.

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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.