Category Archives: kit

Going to Your First Rendezvous

Kind of an odd post for Orion, but this is an email I threw together explaining what kind of kit you really need when going to your first WFT (Western Fur Trade) event.

Just some basic info, piggybacking off of my articles on, but a good summary of how to not overdo it at your first Voo.

Rendezvous are more or less reenacting events where people come out and portray the American Fur Trade, generally about 1800-1840. It’s the time of Jim Bridger, Mariano Modena, Liver Eatin’ Johnson, and a host of other characters who opened up the west and lived on their own in the trackless wilderness of the pre-old west.

But, . . . I don’t have a full set of buckskins!

You’re damn right ya don’t, ya flatlander, but don’t let that stop you from coming out. Though period dress is required for these events (and you can go wild with options), you don’t really need a whole lot to blend in. And honestly, after doing this hobby for ten years (sheesh) there is not a lot of my original gear that I still use . . . so you don’t want to run out and buy a bunch of crap, only to have to sell it to some sucker later, but I digress.

Here are some simple things I recommend to “blend in” to your first event:

Period shirt – this is one of the easiest things to acquire and the good news is if you don’t like it later, you can always wear it under your other clothes. I have a few spare shirts, but picking a good one up shouldn’t be a big deal. What you are looking for is a work shirt-style cut that is in a simple pattern (they were hand painted back then, so no one would sit around and paisley up some linen). Here are some examples on eBay –, but Crazy Crow and Panther Primitives also have some that are inexpensive and perfect for rendezvous. RenFest-style shirts are usually ok, too – provided that they are not too shiny.

Pants/trousers – for your lower half, the best thing to wear is modern pants (the untucked shirt will hang over the top of the pants, covering up the modern stuff like pockets, belt loops, etc), as long as they are not cargo pants. Jean material is ok – as long as it is not blue jeans (not invented until 1849), and tan, brown or even white jeans (remember the 80s?) are great. Tan, brown, or white chinos are good, too (just don’t have the pleats in the front). No OD green.

Footwear – Academy sells some cheap, moccasin-style house shoes that are perfect rendezvous starter shoes. They are usually around $5. Just make sure you get the ones without rubber soles. For the more ambitious, Tandy Leather sells a moccasin kit that is inexpensive and easy to assemble.

Staying warm – the best, simplest and most period way to stay warm is with a wool blanket. You don’t need to run out and get a Hudson’s Bay or anything like that, but a regular surplus military one will be great (just not OD green). Sportsman’s Guide always has a ton of these. The wool-blend “red cross” blankets are generally crappy, but one’s like this are great – (100% wool and only $15!). Buy two of these and you’ll be set for years. When you upgrade to a better blanket, you can cut these up to make leggings, a shooting pouch, or a rain poncho. For the true woodsman, there is no better multi-use material than wool!

Eating materials – this is the most important category, since you can’t drink out of an aluminum can or beer bottle at a period event, you must have a tin cup. If you have one and it’s legit, you are great (ask me if you need to), if not, this is probably your most important piece of kit. You can drink from it, eat out of it and most importantly – it holds your beer. The quart size is better than the pint (you can fit more in it), but either is fine. You can buy these at most events, or order one here:

You will also need a spoon (or a fork, if you are gentrified), but a regular wood spoon is all you really need.

Sleeping – if you are camping out, you can sleep in one of my lodges or a friend’s lodge, so your sleeping bag is ok, as long as it’s out of sight. Better yet, wrap yourself up in a wool blanket or two and sleep period style!

Other stuff – if you wanna shoot, we’ll have spare guns. Same for knives, tomahawks, firestarting kits, bows and arrows and all the rest of it. Don’t go out an buy a black powder gun until you have an event or two under your belt, or we have spent any time in the field with them. A leather belt is great, you can tie your tin cup to it, etc. Just make sure it has a simple buckle (brass preferred). There are generally one or two traders at an event, so you can pick-up some plunder there, too.

What do I eat? – most of the time when you are new, you “camp dog,” which basically means eating off of other people’s viddles. We do use coolers, but they are covered up and out of sight to keep the scene working. Jerky is great, but you can really bring whatever, provided the packaging is put away until ready for use (stored in your lodge or whatever). If you are coming out, just bring whatever you are comfortable eating and/or throwing on the fire. I’ll have plenty of pots, pans and related devices. Don’t worry about picking one up for your first event . . .

For more details, check out my website where I discuss a lot of these topics in even more detail:

See you down the trail!

The iPod – a crucial part of your . . . . arsenal?

It looks like iPods have finally come to their own with the tactically-minded set – and I don’t mean the ability to bring up “Welcome to the Jungle” every time you find yourself in the middle of a fray.

A company has designed an application for the ubiquitous device that would take the place of a ballistics computer or the standard sniper dope note card taped to the cheek side of your rifle stock.

And you can even download it from iTunes!

Sniper rifle software launched for iPod touch
New BulletFlight program could be a ‘killer’ app for Apple

A new application has been launched for the iPod touch to help gun users line up a clean shot at their target.

The BulletFlight app, which costs £6.99 to download from the iTunes store, has been developed by Runaway App to turn the iPod touch into a ballistics computer which the company says can provide “quick solutions in the field”.

Users can mount their iPod touch to their rifle, and then use the iPod’s touch-screen to tap in details about the wind conditions, ammunition type, distance to the intended target and even the wind speed.

It even includes data for several different weapons and calibers.

The application features built-in profiles for three weapons – the M110 semi-automatic precision rifle, the KAC PDW, and the 14.5in SR16 rifle – although users can add more weapons into the app.

“Environmental calculations are based on the Sierra Bullet model,” says the BulletFlight iTunes entry. “Up to five ballistic co-efficients with corresponding velocity thresholds may be used for each profile.”


Just when you thought iTunes was only a place to download one-hit wonders and audio books.

McGyver’s Tactical Knife?

I saw a new Swiss Army Knife (SAK) in the pages of the most recent Field and Stream that looked like a pretty significant departure from their usual offerings.
It’s called the One Hand Sentinel and it looks almost more like a Spyderco-style knife than a SAK. It is an upgrade to their standard Sentinel knife.

I still have my original Recruit from when I was a kid and am excited they came out with a new offering that maintains the original concept, while more in the style of a tactical folder.

Looks like they are going for around $20-25 on eBay
– not bad at all for a cool knife and tweezers!

Here are the specs.

Jack Bauer Bag Bonding

Coming out of one of our favorite little breakfast joints in San Antonio, an older man walked over to compliment us on our baby. I immediately noticed he was carrying the Jack Bauer “24” bag and mentioned to him that I have the same one.

I started getting the words out of my mouth , but we both spoke in unison:

“It’s the Jack Bauer bag.”
Immediately we started laughing and shook hands.

It was a true “gear nerd” moment.

Get your own “Jack Bauer” bag for sub-$20.

The World’s Most Tactical Jacket?

I got this message from sc0rpi0n earlier today:

Not sure if you ever watch Mythbusters on Discovery Channel or not, but one of the guys on that show (Adam Savage) sometimes wears a jacket that looks really cool. I was inclined to visit the interweb and try to identify just what it was. I tracked down the jacket and manufacturer and, if it wasn’t $600, would have ordered one by now given what I found J Thought you might like this….

Holy crap, that is bad arse. But, $600? That’s like kinda money (that dude buys everything).

Check out TAD Gear – easier on the wallet – but not much –

I almost bought a Man-Vs-Wild jacket (SAS smock-type action) on eBay, but then I remembered I live in the desert.


How to be Batman

Finally, the career guidance I need. There is a new book coming out in October about what it would take to be Batman.

The book is called Becoming Batman: The Possibility of A Superhero and details what exactly someone would have to do to become Batman (be rich and train for 18 years), how long you could expect your career as Batman could last (2-3 years)


But really, I think the real reason I dug on Batman, is for the simple fact that he is a regular dude.

Well, sort of.

I mean there is the whole multi-billions thing. And of course being a trust-fund baby means that he has plenty of time to goof-off, er . . . workout and become an Olympic-level athlete.

Ok, so despite the

Check comments –

Here is a description from Wikipedia:

Although seemingly unremarkable in appearance, the utility belt is one of Batman’s most important tools in fighting crime. Composed of a kevlar strap and metal buckle, the utility belt houses ten cylinder cartridges, which vertically clip onto the outside of the belt. The buckle itself contains a miniature camera and two-way radio. A secondary compartment behind the length of the belt houses Batman’s supply of collapsible batarangs.

Each of the ten cylinders contains various tools integral to Batman’s war on crime, and are interchangeable with other cylinders depending on Batman’s needs for the mission. Through the years, Batman has modified the contents of his belt to accommodate various needs.

During the events of No Man’s Land, Batman made use of a more simple worksman’s belt with larger pockets due to the necessity of carrying more equipment.

There is also a great description on that site of the various items that have been used and/or carried in the utility belts.

And for those who’ve ever wondered the answer to the most important question – how can he stay out all night and still kick a sufficient amount of ass?

How would Batman get enough rest?
The difficulty for Batman is he’s going to be trying to sleep during the day. He’s going to be really tired, actually, unless he can shift himself over to just being up at night. If he were just a nocturnal guy, he would actually be a lot healthier and have a lot better sleep than if he were doing what he does now, which is getting some light here and there. That’s going to mess up his sleep patterns and duration of sleep.

Well, there you have it.

Great Customer Service from Cheaper Than Dirt

I just bought a few more items for my kit from and had a great customer service experience with the company.

I needed to add an EMT pouch to my SAR rig and also wanted to pick-up a radio pouch for my medic vest, where I wouldn’t be able to use the radio chest rig.

I got the item in the mail, but the pouch had a broken snap. I called them back on the phone and they immediately sent me over a new one – without needing me to send the original back.

I got the replacement in two days and was able rig the original to work fine on my rig (belt-based, not MOLLE).

So now the vest gets an EMT pouch and radio holder, and the SAR rig gets an EMT pouch as well.

I use my EMT pouches for “quick-trauma” kits – i.e. bleeding, and basic airway – the kind of goods you need really quick without having to fumble through your pack.

They are not as expensive as a similar Blackhawk or Eagle pouch, but definitely get the job done.

While looking through the customer reviews on the page I keyed in on this dude’s description of what he uses his EMT pouch for:

I bought this on a whim to just round up some miscellaneous items on my combat gear. Turns out it holds 2 smoke grenades which is perfect, as I was having a heck of a time trying to find good smoke grenade pouches. The internal elastic loops also help secure them fast to the inside, if something were to ever happen to the zipper. With the 2 smokers in there (military pull-ring smoke, not those dry-smoke sportsman type smoke) there is still room to hold other items. I even threw in an AR mag in an emergency and it fit. The molle on the outside is sturdy, as is the entire pouch. I put anything from my spare sidearm mags to an ASEK knife to the outside of the pouch, it gets a little cumbersome, but it’s capable and keeps gear close at hand. As others have said, it holds a 500ml IV bag plus accessories, QuikClot, whatever you need. It’s one of a few pouches I won’t get rid of, it’s a permanent attachment on my gear.

Now that is much cooler than what I have in mine.

More Bug Out Bag Goods – The Battle Bag

I was searching around for some info on different BOB options and came across this little gem. The actual article is from 2005, but the info is still very useful.

The author talks specifically about a ‘battle bag’ – that is a ready-packed bug out bag that is specifically designed for fighting.

A Battle Bag differs from a Bug Out Bag in that the Battle Bag also has to carry fighting supplies. What goes into your Battle Bag is dependent on your primary weapon, secondary weapon
(handgun), whether or not you have a vest to carry other gear (armored or otherwise) and whether or not you intend to wear a gun belt.

A few things I love about this article:

His survival system is based on a shotgun: Ok, so every survival/BOB/EOTW/WTSHTF writer out there knows that a shotgun is a bad idea for a survival scenario, but why? Not only is this the weapon of choice for Mad Max (ok, bad example), but chances are in a purely scrounge scenario the only types of cartridges you are guaranteed to find almost everywhere is .22LR and 12 gauge. There is also ample evidence that the weapon of choice for the frontiersmen were smoothbore shotguns. And if Hollywood has taught us anything – to really make sure you kill the hell out of that zombie – nothing can guarantee second mortality like a shotgun.

He advocates PPE beyond rubber gloves: Not only does the author mention making sure you have eye protection (remember how we can run through the cedar in a paintball mask and not worry about getting poked in the eye?) , he also talks about using a helmet. Think about it – if things are really that bad – there are probably going to be more sharp edges out there than usual.

He combines his LBE, belt, and BOB into one package: Rather than having to kit-out with one of those snazzy Eagle Deployment Bags (which are still cool, mind you), he has the idea to have his primary BOB wrapped with his LBE vest to make it easier to carry . . .

The way I have everything put together, the Battle Bag is full and sits upright. The vest wraps around and over it, with the Bag’s handle sticking out the neck opening of the vest. The gun belt wraps around the top slotted through the vest arm openings and the Bag shoulder straps, effectively making them one unit to pick up. The helmet chinstrap is wrapped through some of the webbing on the vest and snapped shut. What I get is one unit that I can pick up by the handle on the Battle Bag as I’m going out the door. If I have the time to “suit up” before I leave, I pull off the gun belt to put it on quick. The helmet comes off the vest, the vest goes over my head, Velcro straps get pushed down, and I’m good to grab the bag and helmet and go out the door.

There is a great picture that shows how everything fits together.

Good stuff!