Goal Zero Torch 250 Review

Some time ago I was sent a Goal Zero Torch 250 for review.  Full disclosure:  it was sent free of charge.  I must say that when I was first contacted by a Goal Zero distributor about reviewing a product I never expected to be sent a flashlight.  Let’s face it, this is NOT what Goal Zero is known for!  However I was optimistic that they had come up with a way to integrate a handy light source into a power storage unit.

Let’s begin by taking a tour of the unit…

The Torche 250 sports 3 light sources.  An LED spotlight with high or low settings, a multi LED floodlight with high or low settings, and two red LED emergency lights with solid on or flashing settings.  For charging options there is a build in USB cable that is not replaceable, a small 0.8 watt solar panel, and a hand crank dynamo.
On the bottom of the unit are 3 pushbutton switcheds for the 3 light features, a USB output port, 2 fold down hooks for hanging, and 4 LED lights as a charge indicator.

Of course the first thing I wanted to look at was the actual battery life vs the advertised battery life.  To do this I simply turned the unit on and watched for it to go out.  Here are the results.

Spot light on high setting:
Advertised – 7hrs
Actual – 10 hrs

Flood light on high setting:
Advertised – 22 hrs
Actual – 11 hrs

Goal Zero claims a charge time of 5 hrs from a USB source, which is just about on the mark.  As you can see however, the battery life estimates are completely out of whack!  As for charging via the built in solar panel or hand crank, the estimates given by Goal Zero were so poor (23 – 46 hours for solar and 1 minute of cranking for 2 minutes of light) that they don’t warrant testing.  It should be noted that I was able to charge the light using an external folding 10 watt solar panel and the built in USB cable in about 5 hours of direct sunlight.

SInce Goal Zero is known for solar power generation and storage, I decided to check out a few devices I would want to charge or power up in real life.  I was able to charge my flip phone twice with a full battery and I could also run a small QRP ham radio for several hours.As for todays popular smart phones, I have no idea as I do not own one and hopefully never will.

What I liked:
I love rechargeable lights, so as such it is simply OK, but has limitations as you will read lower down.

What I didn’t like:
Limited recharge options.  The solar and crank options are all but useless and the built in USB cable looks cheap and prone to general wear and tear.  Remember, it is built in and therefor not replaceable.

The fold out hooks for hanging are small and limit yuor options for placement.  For example they would not fit around a standard shower curtain rod to help see where you are “going”.

The operating temperature rating is from 0c to 40c.  Not Canada friendly.

The price.  At $110 CAD from MEC (others may sell for more or less) this is one expensive flashlight!

All in all the Torch 250 missed the mark on many levels.  I had hoped for a power storage unit with a lighting option, but was disapointed.  Look for better options.

Source: CPN Blog

How Does a Hand Crank Emergency Radio Work? – Guest Post By Danny Major

How Does a Hand Crank Emergency Radio Work?

Article kindly provided by Danny Major of Alpha Survivalist
Hand crank power generation has been around in one form or another for decades, so it hardly surprising that this relatively simple technology would eventually become so mainstream that it would become a main feature of all the best emergency weather radios.
Power outages are common in hurricanes and during powerful storms, so having a weather radio at hand that doesn’t need to be powered by the grid or disposible batteries can be an absolute life saver, literally!
But how do these radios work, and why are they truly so valuable?

The Principles of Hand Powered Generators

Hand crank radios, also known as windup radios and emergency radios, use hand powered generators to function. This means that, while the radio still requires a flow of electricity through all of its components to be capable of capturing and decoding radio signals sent by transmission stations, the energy converted to electricity is actually the kinetic energy generated by the user’s own hands.
The basic principle is the following: by creating a certain movement, you move around a magnet or a coil inside the radio or generator. This movement creates a changing magnetic field which generates an electric current between the two connectors of the coil, leading to power generation similar to what you’d find in a battery. That electrical energy is then used to power the radio’s circuits and speaker.
This principle is the same as the one used in power plants, except instead of using the energy derived from burning coal, moving rivers or nuclear reactors, the relatively small generator used to power a hand crank radio just uses your hand’s movements.
The mechanical makeup of a hand crank generator ensures that, as long as it’s cranked up, it will keep working for as long as its components can function. However, to add additional measures to ensure that the generator keeps working under any condition, many manufacturers also add solar panels and rechargeable batteries that keep everything going for a longer time, even if you can’t crank up the radio as frequently as you’d like.

Storing Energy for Hand Crank Radios

The surest way to ensure that a hand crank emergency weather radio keeps working is to add more than one means of providing it with energy or storing electrical energy. A few of these methods can include the following:
·         Some hand crank radios use complicated mechanical systems to prolong the movement and keep the magnetic field fluctuating for as long as possible. So the radio literally winds up and slowly unwinds, like a mechanical alarm clock.
·         Solar panels can be used to top off the energy once the radio runs out of kinetic energy. If you have to leave it in the other room and you don’t crank it for a while, using a solar panel as a backup can be really handy.
·         Rechargeable lithium ion batteries and large capacitors that can store electrical power in a similar fashion to a battery can also be used to keep storing the electricity for a while longer.
These principles and ideas are behind the functionality of all the emergency radios you see on the market.
So, whether you need a cheap radio or the most advanced one you can get your hands on, make sure that it uses the best means of power generation, before you consider buying it.
Author Bio: Danny Major is the owner of Alpha Survivalist, a relatively new website about survival and emergency preparedness. He is a former reconnaisance soldier in HM Armed forces so he knows a thing or two about concealment.

Source: CPN Blog

Discussion on Wartime Farm Part 1

As we get into the series, there is one theme that sticks out to me.  All preppers have heard the term WROL or without rule of law.  The idea being that when SHTF, government bodies will cease to exist.  If we stop to think for a moment though, we may realise that this may not be the case.  Imagine the preps you could set up with access to billions of dollars.  Trust me, if any entity has prepared to survive most anything, it is the government and they are set up not only to survive, but to keep control over the military and law enforcement.  A more likely scenario in SHTF would be EROL or excessive rule of law.

We see this in the series with the introduction of the “war ag”.  An agency set up with special powers to actually tell farmers what to grow and what not to.  There are stories of farms in the UK being taken over by the government due to lack of cooperation or under production.  Todays government is no different with the powers to take possesion of property for the use of the “greater good”.  I can’t guess how many times I’ve heard preppers complain about this, perhaps without keeping the scope in mind.  It is doubtful that your preps, even a year’s supply for a familly would be considered even a drop in the bucket of what is needed.  Just like you would not want to bother spending a day of hard labour for minimum wage, the government is not likely to be bothered searching your home for the low return of resources.  Producers are the more likely target.  In the case of this series, farms are highlighted, but factories were also confiscated and retooled for weapons and other military production.

With raw materials in short supply, old machinery is put back into use by repurposing the materials they are made from.  We see a subsoiler fashioned out of scrap metal, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work.  There is an important lesson here in that even with skills such as blacksmithing, projects may not work out as planned.  Preppers have to be prepared for failure as well and be able to bounce back and make the best of the situation.  In some cases, failure was almost a certainty but the efforts were made in spite of this. 

Throughout this series we will see many topics raised that can relate to how a current day SHTF situation may affect our lives.  Feel free to comment with your observations and thoughts.

Source: CPN Blog

Canada Has Gone To Pot

For those of you that are expecting some politically charged rant post, you will be disappointed!  You all should know me better than that by now!


Preparedness bloggers and youtubers have been saturating their mediums over the past week over the legalizastion of recreational pot.  I’m only aa little surprissed at how this topic has come up with such gusto in the preparedness community.  Across the country pot heads are rejoicing!  
Medical Mary Jane has been available in Canada since 1999 with lots of restrictions and a prescription.  The medical benefits have been well documented and the whaky weed does indeed have it’s place for certain conditions.  However, unlike antibiotics preppers have not had access to pot until now.  Preppers now have a new LEGAL natural medication for their medical tool kits.
The diggity dank can be used for pain management, increasing appetite, and as an mental escape for PTSD.  All legitimate uses for post SHTF situations.  Marijuana is a plant that is harvested and dried for smoking.  Preppers from coast to coast are making plans for producing and stockpiling this magical plant.  This is where I have a problem with most of the information being distributed by preppers who are supposed to be “in the know” about what they publish.  The problem is, most are giving out false or incomplete information.  I suspect some of them are getting high on their own supply!
Although it is the federal government that passed legalization, there are limits to the federal laws and in many cases even more so on a provincial and even local level.  As an example, before you head out to buy bulk pounds of pot, keep inn mind that you are limited to 30 grams of public possesion.  That’s gonna make for a lot of trips to the weed store to get your cache fully stocked.  Another legal limit is 150 grams per household, regardless of how many individuals reside there.  So long term storage of massive amounts is NOT allowed!
Most preppers produce a lot of their own food by gardening, so it stands to reason that those with green thumbs (and green brains) would start growing their own.  Federally, this is legit to a point.  You may be allowed to grow your own, but before you go plowing up the back acres, know that you are limited to 4 plants per household.  That’s the federal law, but some provinces have outlawed the practice of home grown herb altogether.

Stockpiling and/or producing stinkweed has also been discussed as a bartering item.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of bartering addictive substances for barter.  It has the potential to invite problems, but this is a personal choice you have to make for yourself.  If you believe the hype that ganja isn’t addictive, think again.  Ignoring the “professional studies” I have been able to observe the 420 friendlies who have hit dry spells.  Believe me, some of them are going to get quite ingenious and even agressive in their attempts to score a puff! 

The decision whether or not to grow, aquire or stock pile pot is completely up to you.  Like everything else, there are pros and cons in doing so.  All I ask is to ignore the blunt hype some preppers are pushing and do your own research on benefits, dangers, uses, and legalities.

Source: CPN Blog

Fall Wood Stove Prepping

The signs are all around us.  The air is cooler, the leaves are falling, and the farmers markets are bursting with fresh local prrocuce!  That’s right, it’s Fall which means Winter is right around the corner.  As a matter of fact, many of us have probably already burned a fire or two in the wood stove on a particularly cool night.

Since we are so close to ussing ouur wood stovves on a more regular basis, let’s take a look at some important items on the to do list.

  1. Clean Chimney – either DIY or call a professional, but DO NOT omit this step.  Even burning only dry hardwood in your stove can deposit dangerous amounts of creosote in your chimney which can ignite if left unchecked.  Despite the claims of numerous products on the market, there is no substitution for a thorough chimney sweeping.  Sweep the chimney in the fall before heavy use, and a second cleaning on a warmer winter day can’t hurt either.
  2. Check and replace Door gaskets.  Loose or overly compacted door gaskets can cause too much air flow to enter the stove causing excessily hot fires and essentially disabling dampers.  Replacement gaskets are inexpensive and come in a kit with heat resistant glue for a simple DIY job.  Many stove owners replace gaskets every fall as a preventative measure.  If your stove has a window in the door, check and replace that gasket too.
  3. Check and replace fire bricks.  Look for cracked or broken fire bricks and replace as needed.  If a broken brick falls out of place, it can cause a hot spot on the stove and increase the fire risk in your home.
  4. Physically clean and inspect your stove.  Dust settles on stoves and needs to be removed.  Clean every inch of your stove front to back, top to bottom removing any dust or dirt and looking for cracks or open seals on the stove especially around the seams.  Try putting a light source in your stove and checking for light escaping on the outside.
  5. Clear the area around your stove of clutter.  Ensure that all flamable materials are a safe distance away. 
  6. Ensure that a fire extinguisher is close by and has been inspected.  Call your local fire department for information on what size to have and where to get them inspected.
  7. Use creosote preventing products.  As mentioned in item 1, these are NOT an alternative to proper sweepings, but can help lessen the amount of creosote that deposits on the chimney walls.

Have a happy and safe winter.
Source: CPN Blog

Four Ways to Prepare Financially for a Natural Disaster – Guest Post by H. Davis

Whether it’s an earthquake, flash flood, hurricane, snowstorm, twister or wildfire, the majority of us are at risk of being caught off guard by a natural disaster.
In recent months, we’ve seen wildfires in places like Idaho, and there have also been a number of hurricanes in the Caribbean’s, Florida, and Texas within the past couple years. As a result, thousands of residents have lost their homes, and are unsure if they will ever be able to get back on their feet again.
In addition to the loss of life and emotional trauma, natural disasters can cause financial loss as well. Consider the cost of an emergency evacuation, for example, or the cost of repairing a home after a flash flood or fire. To make matters worse, if your home is built on a weak foundation, you could lose your entire residence within hours.

So, if you haven’t taken the time to design an emergency plan, now is your chance to do so before it’s too late. If you aren’t sure where to start, then here are four things you can do to ensure you and your family are protected in the event of a natural disaster:
Make Sure You’re Covered:Whether you’re buying or renting a home or apartment, you should always make sure that you’re covered in the long run. Although you can legally own a home without having homeowners’ insurance, if you live in an area prone to fires, floods, and other disasters, you may be required to purchase insurance, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For residents living in a rental property, you may want to consider getting renters insurance –– if you haven’t already. This, however, still doesn’t guarantee everything will go according to plan.
The truth is, it can be easy for tenants and residents to assume that their valuables are safe and out of harm’s way when it comes to Mother Nature. But if you don’t read the fine print on your insurance policy, your insurance could be useless. That said, very few homeowners can actually recall what their policy covers, which can make for a nasty surprise when you’re in a situation that requires you to file a claim. Disability insurance is also something to look into before a disaster hits your community. According to the Council of Disability Awareness, more than a quarter of today’s 20-year-olds will have some sort of disability before they retire. While that statistic is shocking, it also means that every resident will likely benefit from disability insurance later on down the road.
Keep Cash on Hand: Generally speaking, natural disasters have the ability to knock out power in entire communities. This means that if you don’t have access to your online banking information, you can be in a tough situation if you’re forced to pay for things using cash. It’s

Source: CPN Blog


It seems logical that in a rainstorm, if you cover yourself in any material that’s 100% waterproof, you’ll stay dry. Unfortunately however, this isn’t the case for long.

Similar to the previous discussion on sleeping bags, the body has a requirement to give off moisture. Exertion on the part of the wearer compounds this problem. Any fabric that will keep water out, will keep moisture in.

When it comes to waterproofness, the key lies in the ability to release moisture. In a personal rain protection system, most tend to be ‘closed,’ with limited breathability.

In 1969, Bob Gore discovered a versatile new polymer that had spaces small enough to stop water in liquid form. but large enough to allow water vapor to be released through the fabric. This allowed rainwear to be waterproof and at the same time breathable.

Since this time, many similar products have been introduced to compete with Gore=tex. Although this has aided people greatly, it hasn’t fully addressed the problem.

Although it’s in many ways a miracle fabric (that has been integrated into all types of clothing and into shoes), the fabric is only breathable enough to exhaust approximately one-third of the moisture produced. This is however a big step toward people remaining dry.

If you decide to purchase a piece of Gore-Tex (or similar) clothing, many manufacturer will also include breathing pockets. These appear to be like regular pockets, but they simply open the fabric to the inside of the material. This provides for further breathability.

Like we discussed with sleeping bags, many types of insulation material will lose loft when they start to absorb moisture. This results in heat loss. This is especially critical in cold conditions. Every effort should be made to remain dry.

Remember not to exert yourself too much and remove layers as required. Staying warm and dry is key to long-term survival.

Sleeping Bag Materials: Synthetic vs. Down

A sleeping bag is designed to catch air between it’s fibers. In-turn, this air is warmed by your body and you stay warm. The area of fluffiness is called the loft of the bag. The greater the loft, the warmer the bag.


Different materials capture air better than others. Down (the small feathers found closest to the skin of a duck or goose) is ideal for this purpose as it possesses many small fibres. Down is graded by number; the 800 and 900 series Down being the best/warmest.

Down is often mixed with feathers (non-down) and used as an insulator for less expensive ‘Down Sleeping Bags’. So if you purchase one, be sure to note what you are buying. Not all down bags are created equally.

Down does require to be shaken to increase it’s loft after it is crammed into a stuff sack. Some users fail to fluff-up there bag before use and wonder why they were cold…

Down is lighter than Synthetic fibres and as such, is sought after by hikers and climbers. Lightweight and pound for pound the warmest material you can buy.


Synthetic fibres are man made. Although they can be very good (almost as warm as down) they are plastic based. As I’ve already discussed, they weigh more, so it seems that in comparison, there’s not much of a contest. Well that conclusion isn’t entirely correct…

Moisture: Down’s Downfall

If a Down Bag gets wet, all of its lofting properties are removed. The bag will not keep you warm.

This is not limited to the bag falling into water or getting rained on. Your body continually exhales moisture. Once inside the bag, the moisture will be absorbed by the bag. If the bag isn’t dried (air out) every morning, it will continue to absorb moisture the following night (and so on). The bags insulation qualities will continue to decrease until it doesn’t provide the adequate insulation required and you get cold.

As synthetic bags use plastic fibres, they don’t mat together in the same way as down. The bag will absorb some water, but 100% of its loft is maintained. The bag is warm even soaking wet.

My Choice

Unless I was expecting extremely cold dry conditions (with ample time to air out the bag), was pressed to be extremely weight conscious and the trip was short, I wouldn’t use down.

I too use to be a diehard down user and still have several 800 and 900 series down vests and jackets/pants that I use. But I always select a synthetic bag.

Amazing Amazon Deal

Cyalume Snaplight Industrial Grade Light Sticks, Green, 6-Inch – Pack of 10

  • SnapLight industrial grade green light stick for providing illumination for up to 12 hours
  • Measures 6″ long and provides 360 degrees of illumination
  • Hook and gate top for hanging or attaching the light
  • Chemiluminescent substance is non-toxic and plastic body is phthalate free for safety
  • Five-year shelf life from date of manufacture for a maintenance-free alternative to other lighting
  • SnapLight industrial grade green light stick for providing illumination for up to 12 hours
  • Measures 6-Inch long and provides 360 degrees of illumination

  • Hook and gate top for hanging or attaching the light
  • Chemiluminescent substance is non-toxic and plastic body is phthalate free for safety


    Movie Monday

    Disasters : 

    Warning: Mega Earthquake in Cascadia

    The 1700 Cascadia earthquake occurred along the Cascadia subduction zone on January 26 with an estimated moment magnitude of 8.7–9.2. The megathrust earthquake involved the Juan de Fuca Plate that underlies the Pacific Ocean, from mid-Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, south along the Pacific Northwest coast as far as northern California. The length of the fault rupture was about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) with an average slip of 20 meters (66 ft). The earthquake caused a tsunami that struck the coast of Japan, and may also be linked to the Bonneville Slide and the Tseax Cone eruption in British Columbia.

     These films are presented as an exception to the copyright act as fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire. See bill c-42 article 29.