The big green tick…

large ALICE packSo I’m looking for a pack. I already have packs but this time I’m looking for something that can be my Get Out Of Dodge pack. You know, something I can pack enough stuff in to survive, thrive, and defend with. For at least a week… I wanted something tough and cheap. Style is subjective anyway. After looking at lots of bags, I settled on a large ALICE pack, aka the Big Green Tick.

I generally don’t trust product reviews. Most seem like they’re written by people who (a) hope you’ll buy what they’re “reviewing” so they can make a commission, (b) like to brag about how much they can spend, or (c) are trying to justify a purchase. So reading this post was kind of refreshing. Agree with him or not, at least he does a good job of explaining why he likes what he likes. Or doesn’t like what he doesn’t like. Based on his comments about the A.L.I.C.E pack I decided to try one.

Thing is, there are two A.L.I.C.E packs – medium and large. Some call the Large one “the big green tick.” Don’t know why, but it does kind of look like one. The pack I ordered was advertised as medium. Picks and measurements published by seller say it’s Large. Their FAQ say it’s Medium. I ordered hoping it’s a Large and yes it’s a Large. Genuine USGI with an NSN.

I see some debate about A.L.I.C.E medium vs. large. Fans of the Medium say it prevents them from over packing. Whatever. Fans of the Large say the smaller is too small to carry a realistic load. Whatever. I guess the only way to know for sure is to try them both and see what works for you, so I ordered a Medium A.L.I.C.E pack yesterday. It will be fun to compare them.

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

Still prepping, just not enough every week to post about it all the time. Since the last time I thought about my weekly preps I’ve started learning about winter gardening and ordered some heirloom seeds. I’ve been spending time reading and thinking about being self sufficient instead of just buying a bunch of crap. I did get a couple new books and a surplus ALICE pack. Also spent a lot of time on our new rental…

Looking back on last year…

I had a good 2017. Spent more time with family. Figured out who and who isn’t family. Made some new friends. Learned about “kith and kin.” Got rid of a lot of junk. Completed CERT training. Started learning about permaculture. Went back to school. Picked up a rental property. That’s the good stuff. On the down side, I still waste time worrying about crap I can’t control.

Looking forward to next year…

For next year I want to mainly focus on building kith and kin relationships. Become more self sufficient. Learn to garden and trap. Spend time in the outdoors with my family.  Lose 20 lbs. of fat. Gain 10 lbs. of muscle. Get in good enough shape to ruck a 60 lb. pack anywhere I need to go. Catch fish. Grow pumpkins. Get a good heirloom seed collection going. Live a live that honors the memory of my parents, grandparents, and ancestors…

I read something interesting that I agree with. I can’t quote it exactly because my memory sucks. To paraphrase though…

“Prepping isn’t about surviving no matter what. We’re all going to die no matter how well we prep. Instead, prepping is about having the ability to pass on your values.”

I’m sure I left something out, but that sums it up pretty good IMO. That’s what I’ll be working on in the coming year and what I’ll be prepping for. How about you? What will you be doing to prep in the coming weeks and years?

Peace out,

Kelty Raven 2500 – first look

kelty raven 2500 first look - insideSanta Clause in the Big Brown Truck delivered my Kelty Raven 2500 yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to take it on a hike yet, but going over it – I’m really impressed so far. I’d say quality is on par with my much more expensive Kifaru Urban Zippy. Plus it’s genuine military issue which is always a plus with me… if something is good enough for the US military then it sure as heck is good enough for me. Any way, this isn’t a full gear review of the Raven, just a quick look and my first impressions of this pack.

Kelty Raven 2500 – first look

The first thing I noticed is the weight. The Raven is heavy – 5 lb 5 oz without the radio holder. The second thing I noticed is the stitching. All very solid with no loose thread ends. Third thing is comfort. This pack is more comfortable with 35 lbs in it than my 3V Gear Paratus with only 20 lbs. I guess that’s what a real suspension system does for you. Zippers work great. Kelty doesn’t say if they’re YKK or something else. Who cares? They work great. If they break, Kelty has a lifetime warranty. Overall quality is great. In fact, this pack makes some other highly rated “operator packs” look like a joke.

The Raven is designed to carry a military satellite radio, so there are some things you might miss. The main thing is a hydration sleeve. The Raven 2500 has one, but it’s on the access panel instead of the back panel. Also, a padded eyewear compartment has been sacrificed for a radio access panel.

Other than those two small quibbles, the Raven 2500 is a great pack. It’s a bit expensive ($270 direct from Kelty or $202 from Amozon), but IMO the high quality makes it worth the price. This would make a great pack to build a bugout bag or get home bag around. It’s big enough to use on one or two night camping hikes too. I’m looking forward to wringing it out and writing a full review soon.

Peace out,

Related links:
Bugout bag or get home bag?
Kelty Raven 2500 product page

Outdoor gear reviews…

kelty raven 2500It would be nice to find good, honest outdoor gear reviews online, but that is difficult at best these days it seems. I’m looking for a new pack. Nothing fancy, just big enough to hold enough stuff for a night or two out. I also want a good suspension system though, something with better support than just a set of shoulder straps.  In my case, I’m interested in the Kelty Raven 2500 and the Amron (Kelty) MAP 3500. I also looked at the Mystery Ranch Komodo Dragon, but it’s smaller than what I want (2000 cu. in) and too expensive for my budget ($375). So it was between the Raven 2500 and the MAP 3500. All I need to do is find some good reviews online to help me decide. Fire up Google, type in “raven 2500 vs MAP 3500 reviews” and…

Outdoor gear reviews mostly suck…

Every review I could find on either pack was on a vendor’s web site or it was one of those crappy cut-and paste “reviews” where the “author” cuts and pastes the manufacture’s product description, adds a sappy intro and conclusion, lots of “buy it here” links, and enough keyword stuffing to get the page to rank high with Google. In other words, every outdoor gear review I could find online for these two packs was absolute crap…

In search of a better review…

Since Google wasn’t any help, I turned to YouTube. I’m not really a big fan of outdoor gear reviews on YouTube, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. I did manage to find a fairly decent review of the Raven 2500 and another of the Map 3500. These gave me what I needed to know to make my choice. I chose… both.

Raven 2500 and MAP 3500 – why both?

After reading the product pages and watching the YouTube reviews, I decided on both packs. Both have features I like, but the Raven seems better for some uses and the MAP better for others.

The MAP 3500 is slightly smaller (2300 cu. in). The main compartment is panel loading, which basically means the whole side of the compartment opens up. It also has a separate front pocket with organization for pencils, etc. It also has a padded compartment for eyewear – perfect place to put my reading glasses. Each side has a mesh water bottle pocket, and there’s also a separate hydration sleeve in the main pack if you want or need to carry more water. Best of all it can be had in either of my two favorite colors, desert tan and foliage green. I think it will be a perfect summer pack.

The Raven 2500 is a little bigger (2500cu. in) and about a pound heavier than the MAP. It lacks the eye wear compartment but I think I can work around that. Instead of water bottle pockets, it has zippered pouches on the side. I think this will be a great fall/winter pack. Unfortunately it only comes in black or coyote brown. I think they’re both ugly, but I settled for the coyote brown.

Coming soon – my own outdoor gear reviews…

Since most of the outdoor gear reviews I’ve found are nothing more than advertisements and click bait, maybe I should start writing my own. In fact, I’m going to. I’ll have the Kelty this week so I’ll get to test drive it over Christmas break. I’ll get the MAP next month when my bank account recovers from my Christmas shopping. One more thing… if I do manage to find a great online review of a piece of outdoor gear I’m interested in, I’ll post a link instead of cluttering up the internet with duplicate content. OK, rant over.

Peace out,

Related links:
Kelty Raven 2500 product page
Kelty Raven 2500 video review
Amron (Kelty) MAP 3500 product page
Kelty MAP 3500 video review