August 21, 2014

Review of The Survival Key

Quite some time ago, I was approached by The Survival Key and asked if I would be interested in writing a review. Before I go any further, I need to apologize to them for the length of time it’s taken to do this review. Looking at the product then and again recently has given me some insight that I wouldn’t have had if I’d written the review right away.

The Survival Key is a software program unlike any other. If you’re preparedness minded, you know the vast amount of topics there are to research. The Survival Key went out and found some great articles, videos and documents from preparedness and survival websites and organized them by type of information. Think of it as a huge collection of bookmarks, organized by topic and presented in a graphical interface.

Here is a video they play on their site, though at the time of this writing, only the audio is playing.

While this software has a huge amount of potential, I have some problems with it; below is a pro and con list.



Provides you with the ability of downloading the information to your hard drive, making it available should the net go down. Just because you view the information, does not mean you have downloaded it and saved it. There is a button that must be clicked to download the document.

Wide variety of categories covered.

Each category has subcategories, many of those have multiple documents available.

The documents that the Survival Key created, called “Essentials” in the program, are very well done.


When I evaluate something, I tend to do it the first time without reading the manual because I want to see how intuitive it is. Be it a new handgun, a fire starter or piece of software. I had a few problems with the software until I read the manual. If you purchase it, do yourself a favor and read the documentation first.

When I first looked at the software and again the second time, I would say that 15%-20% of the links I went to were dead. Either the site had removed the information or the site had been shut down. There is a button provided to report broken links, and they say in the manual that they will find a replacement document when one is reported. If people are using this product and reporting the bad links, I would not expect to find as many broken as I did; so I don’t know how actively they monitor this.

Several of the documents they provide links to, are copyrighted documents that someone created a .pdf file of. By downloading the file you are stealing.

While they provide a means of downloading any and all of the information presented, if you downloaded everything, you would need a large hard drive to devote to it. With the size of modern hard drives, this may or may not be a problem for you. However, if you have an inexpensive computer and limited hard drive space, you will want to pick and choose what you download.

Some of the articles linked to aren’t very good.

My Take

The software has a huge amount of potential, and with a few tweaks like providing a means to add documents to the library yourself from sources you trust, fast removal of broken links, and replacement of a new one, to name just two, would increase the value in my eyes.

They have three price points; $14.95, $69.95 and $99.95. (For full info check the site.) In my opinion at this time, there isn’t enough value to warrant the price. If they created a fourth option that had all of the features of the cheapest option, but added a means to add your own library, I would feel comfortable paying $25-$30 for it.

I have made hundreds of documents available in the Link Library. Simply look on the main toolbar (it was previously in the general preparedness dropdown). I found non-copyrighted documents on a huge amount of topics. All of the links worked when I made them. Some might be broken now, but, hey, it’s a free service! LOL (if you find a broken one, let me know and I’ll fix it ASAP).

If you have the money to spare and want a large collection of data presented in a graphical interface, this product is worth buying. If money is a concern, you can create your own directory structure, find articles that are worthwhile, and save them as a .pdf on your hard drive.

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Review of American Exit Strategy

Review of American Exit Strategy

I have recently finished a novel called American Exit Strategy, written by Mark Goodwin. Mark is also the owner of the Prepper Recon blog and podcast.

American Exit Strategy is a Prepper fiction novel that depicts an America that has become an unsustainable nanny state, and the broken economy begins to fracture. Throughout the book you get a behind the scenes look as the American economy is in its death throes.

Early on in the book, the federal government is faced with not having enough funds to pay all of the EBT on the first of the month and has declared that it will issue another payment later in the month. This leads to looting and rioting in heavy population centers.

The book follows a very popular politician that reminds me of Ron Paul, whose name is Paul Randall. He is in the midst of a Presidential race and, along the way, makes some compelling arguments about what the American people will face and what he believes they should do to prepare for it. The claims he makes come at a cost, as the current President, who is very Obama’esk, who is at the end of his second term, and the political opponent he faces, try to place the blame for what is happening to the economy at his feet.

One couple that the story follows lives in a suburb in Florida that had seen rising crime before the riots. The couple are prepper’s, and you get to watch as they increase their preparation and follow their decisions. Do they stay in an area with rising crime, with poor economic prospects, or do they make their own American Exit Strategy?

American Exit Strategy isn’t about making a plan to leave America. It is about making a self-sustaining life, not dependent on the country America has turned into.

My Take

At the beginning of every chapter there is a quote, many taken from the Founding Fathers, the Bible and other sources. I enjoyed each one, and it fit well with the chapter.

I think that the events that unfold as the economy falls apart are quite realistic and possible. It’s not TEOTWAWKI overnight. There is a steady decline, with all signs pointing to worse things on the horizon, giving warning to those who are paying attention.

The only negative thing I would say, is that there is some dialogue that is a little clumsy. This is common in books of this genre, as the author attempts to educate the reader on topics like the economy, preparedness, survival and so on.

This, however, doesn’t take away from my overall opinion of the book, which I enjoyed and do recommend. I am looking forward to book two, to see how the story continues.

Prepper Pete Prepares

Prepper Pete Prepares

The Beautiful Mrs. Ray helped me by reviewing Prepper Pete Prepares. I love the idea of a children’s book to help explain preparedness to kids.
Review of Prepper Pete Prepares

The author, Kermit Jones, Jr., created this book to help explain preparedness to his young daughters. In my mind, that he is a father of daughters lends itself to his credibility. He knows the hearts and minds of his own children and knows what will and will not scare them.

The book represents an “ant man” who decides he wants to be prepared from an early age. It discusses reasons and ways to prepare without getting into the great detail that can sometimes alarm children. The illustrations are fun and depict a family setting that is calm and collected, even though there are emergency situations going on around them, because they are prepared!

Trudee’s Take: I would recommend this book for parents with young children. I would, however, recommend reading it to them until they’re a little older. Some of the content may require further explanation, as children are such sponges with information and are, in general, extremely curious about things. There are pictures of guns in the book, for instance, and to mitigate fear or misunderstanding, this would be a perfect opportunity to explain your personal stance on guns, whether you’re for them or against them.

All in all, this is great children’s book that provides parents a non-threatening way to explain what they do to help keep their family safe without creating fear. In my opinion, an empowered child is a safe child, and giving them knowledge empowers them!

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Preparedness Foundations

Preparedness Foundations

This review was written by my beautiful wife Trudee.

Preparedness Foundations

In helping Chris out, I thumbed through a book that was sent to him.

This is a “Participant Workbook”, designed to go along with a class on preparedness that you might see held in your own church! Of course, since Chris and I have briefly been a part of our preparedness class at church, this really piqued my curiosity!

I have to admit, I wish we’d have come up with this! It’s EXCELLENT! The authors, Clayton Whitson and Jonathan Coussens have done a beautiful job compiling a lot of information with useful check lists without overwhelming the reader. This book is 76 pages! That’s it! It’s colorful and very well-written in non-threatening terms!

There are sections of “homework” that are designed to help get class participants thinking and moving on preparedness. The contents and chapters are easy to get back to if you find yourself wondering about a specific topic you covered in class. There are colorful pictures and great explanations of them!

Trudee’s Take:

I find myself wishing I could sit through this class with these instructors, and I’ve been prepping for a few years now! This book is fantastic! I don’t know where they’re holding classes but, given half a chance, I’d be there in a heartbeat!

P.S. I checked out their website. A husband and wife team?! No way! What are the odds?!?! The book can be purchased in PDF format here, be forewarned, it is on the pricey side.

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Review of Howard Leight Electronic Earmuff

Review of Howard Leight Electronic Earmuff

Earlier this year, I purchased the Howard Leight R-01526 Electronic Earmuffs and have used them a few times. I thought I would do a quick review on them. This was my first pair of electronic muffs, but I was going to take some training and wanted to make sure I could hear the instructor.

The Specs:

•External audio input connects to MP3 players and scanners
•Amplifies conversation and commands with one single volume control knob
•Automatic 4 hour shut-off increases battery life
•Automatically blocks noise above 82 dB, noise reduction rating: NRR 22
•Adjustable, low-profile design folds for easy storage

My Take:

There were fifteen people on the line when I took my course. At times, the head trainer was 20+ feet away. I could hear him better than if he was standing right next to me without the muffs. That might be a bit of a stretch, but only a bit. With the volume control, you can amplify things as little or as much as you want. If you don’t want to use the amplification, they work just like a normal pair of muffs would.

There were a few other people in the class who had the same model, so I asked what they thought. One gentleman said he loves them, that he also takes a rifle class and there are other brands that stick out further and make it so you can’t get the rifle snug. Everyone liked them quite a bit!

The speakers also work in stereo, so while the instructor was walking behind us, we could tell where he was.

There was only one guy in the class that didn’t have some form of electronic ear protection. He had to ask for directions to be repeated several times. Someone let him try theirs, and I bet he purchased a pair as soon as he got home.

If you take any form of firearms training, I can’t recommend these highly enough! Even if you don’t take any firearms training these could still be a huge blessing.

According to the website Hearing Aid Know , here are the decibel levels of some common sounds:

Fireworks (140)
Snowmobile (120)
Chain saw (110)
Amplified music (110)
Lawn mower (90)
Noisy office (90)
Vacuum cleaner (80)
City traffic (80)

Keep in mind that it will limit these sounds but that you’ll also be able to hear if someone is trying to get your attention, as their voice will be amplified.

With a price of only $45.99 from Amazon, well, like I said, I can’t recommend these highly enough and give them 5 stars!

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Update on The Ultimate Survival Bundle

I just wanted to give you a quick update on the Ultimate Survival Bundle, they have now added as a free bonus the 11-in-1 Survival Tool!


The 11 uses are:
can opener, knife edge, screwdriver, ruler, bottle cap opener, 4-position wrench, wingnut wrench, saw blade, direction ancillary indicator, 2 position wrench, and keychain hole.

This is only available to US residents only.

Those of you who’ve already purchased will be contacted to get your address to be sent one as well.

If you have not purchased one yet, remember that the Ultimate Survival Bundle ends on Monday.

Review of Discovery to Catastrophe

Discovery To CatastropheBy Jerry Wood

I was approached by author Jerry Wood some time ago about reviewing a book called Discovery to Catastrophe. I owe Mr. Wood an apology. With the many turns life has taken in the last year, my recreational reading time was minimal and it took me much longer than I had hoped to finish the book; for that, Mr. Wood, I apologize.

The book initially follows one family and, later, multiple families who form a house church. Latter still, they join with a small church, as they research the tribulation, and prepare for what may come. There are several scriptures provided on end times study, that are meshed well into the story line.

This is the first Christian prepper fiction book I have read and I enjoyed seeing scripture mentioned. I also enjoyed seeing how a Christian MAG worked together. It reminded me of Acts 2 and how the first church worked and formed community.

I don’t want to give any more of the story away, but I will just say this; I pray we never see a catastrophe like the one in this book.

One of the downsides of having such a large cast of characters like this book has is a lack of character development. Because I enjoyed the development of the MAG and watching how they each blessed the group with their research and work, I don’t know that I would say that the lack of character development is a negative. It works well in this case.

With the decisions and actions being God-based and the focus on a large preparedness-based community, this definitely isn’t the average prepper novel. If the book sounds interesting I hope you will read it.

I am going to leave the comment section open, for now. There was an article last week that started some pre-trib – post-trib conversation, and I put an end to it. For some reason this topic gets people riled up. On another forum, I had my faith questioned because of my belief. I have a couple important things I want to say.

This is not a salvation issue.

No matter your belief on the subject, you are talking to a son or daughter of God, so speak to them with respect and humility.

I don’t care if you believe pre, mid or post. If you have not thoroughly studied the subject, you should. If you believe in one position because it is what you were taught as a child and you always accepted it as truth, try to look into this from a neutral point of view.

As I mentioned, I’ll allow comments for now. You can say something about your position, but as I stated above, keep it respectful. I don’t want to see any arguing or telling someone else they’re wrong. If I see that, I’ll just delete your comment.

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The Ultimate Survival Bundle

You might have seen the banners on various prepper and survival sites advertising the Ultimate Survival Bundle, which lists 36 expert guides, 46 resources (some videos and audio files) from a range of preparedness experts! It is said to have a value of $700 and is all offered at the low price of $29! It’s available for a very short time. The offer is expiring on September 23rd.

I personally looked into it briefly, and thought I would check it out more when the sale went live. I took a look today, and was blown away by the eBooks that are listed! Topics include Preparedness, Survival, Homesteading, Cookery, Energy, Governance, Health and Security. Below are just some of the titles.

• Making the Best of Basics
• The Untrained Housewife’s Guide to Getting Prepared eBook
• The Homesteader’s Home Management Binder Printable Pages
• 170 Gallons of Water a Day eBook
• Simple Shelter eBook
• Companion Planting eBook
• How to Control Pests Using Natural Remedies eBook
• Apartment Gardening eBook
• Medical Preparedness for Adults eBook
• North American Foraging Guide eBook
• Solar Cookery: Everything Under the Sun eBook
• Pioneering Today: Faith and Home the Old-Fashioned Way eBook
• The Complete Consumers Guide to Wind Power eBook
• Sunshine to Dollars eBook
• Rocket Mass Heater Operation and Maintenance Manual eBook
• A Guide to Understanding Herbal Medicines and Surviving the Coming Pharmaceutical Monopoly eBook
• Surviving EMP eBook
• Nuclear War Survival Skills eBook
• To Keep or Not to Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns eBook
• Instant Identity Armor eBook
• And more.

I dug into this a bit more today and purchased the Ultimate Survival Bundle. After looking at some of these eBooks, I’m so excited about them that I wanted to let you all know about it, in case you want to take advantage of this great offer!

To be completely honest with you, some of the items listed are not up my alley, but “Making the Best of Basics” is a book I have reviewed. In my opinion, it is a book every prepper should own. “Sunshine to Dollars” is another book I have looked at and I’m pretty excited that it is included! Those two alone would cost about as much as the entire Ultimate Survival Bundle.

If you would like to get more information, feel free to follow the link in the image below. If you would rather simply purchase the bundle, follow this link..

Again, the Ultimate Survival Bundle is available until September 23. You still have some time!

Review of SurvivAMINO


Eating a healthy, high protein diet is a good idea now, when times are “normal”. But we prepare for the future, and it can be difficult to make sure you have a good form of protein in your food storage, let alone in BOB. Just as a refresher, here are some forms of protein; eggs, meats, soy, milk, cheese, yogurt and beans. You can store some canned and powdered versions of the above listed food but there is now another option.

I was approached by a company that sells a product aimed at giving a solution to this problem, and their target market is preppers. The name of the product is SurvivAMINO. This is a supplement created from essential amino acids that can act as a complete protein replacement for up to 28 days.

Here is some information provided on SurvivAMINO:

SurvivAMINO“Lightweight, portable, and low volume: Take care of the most difficult part of the nutritional equation with confidence. Complete protein sources such as meat go bad in hours, easily storable forms are often an incomplete source of amino acids. SurvivAMINO™ is an innovative formula consisting of pure amino acids, taking care of your protein needs in a fraction of the space and weight. When every ounce counts, bet on SurvivAMINO™.

Improve your health: The SurvivAMINO™ formula has been used for decades by elite athletes to improve performance. By providing the building blocks for your body, the formula has been proven to add muscle, improve blood cell count, and even improve endurance in test subjects. When you’re trying to survive, your health is what counts.”

There is also more information given on what SurvivAMINO is made of.

“A complete source: Of the 22 commonly accepted amino acids, only 8 are deemed essential. Without these, important reactions cannot take place in the body. The consequences of this range from muscle wasting to organ failure and death. This is especially true for the elderly and young, who are less efficient at processing proteins. SurvivAMINO™ consists of 100% essential amino acids to make sure you have all the bases covered.

No binding agents, no caffeine, and no sugar added. Every ingredient in the SurvivAMINO™ is an amino acid essential to life. Anything else would just weigh you down. Keep it anywhere; in your pack, on your boat, or stored in your shelter. Be prepared. Sustain yourself. Sustain your survival.”

For more information visit the SurvivAMINO site. Here is a digital flier as well.
My thoughts:

As far as the nutritional aspect of SurvivAMINO goes, I think this is a great idea. Amino acids have been used by athletes for decades to enhance their training. I know some people store vitamins in their preps, but vitamins don’t contain the same amino acids needed to be a protein replacement.

I ran my own short, one-week experiment. I used SurvivAMINO as a replacer for my morning protein for one week. I considered using it for a protein replacer for every meal for an entire week but with diabetes, I need more protein than carbs. I opted to do breakfast so that I would be full and not have to compensate with carbs for each meal. I felt fine and had the same amount of energy I normally do.

The only downside to SurvivAMINO is that it is a bit expensive. MSRP is $45 a bottle, which contains 20 servings. SurvivAMINO’s parent company has agreed to give Preparedness Club members a $5 discount per bottle.

Where I think this product will really be a good fit is in BOB’s. I don’t think bugging out is needed in the vast majority of situations but the ones that require it are sure to be difficult. Making sure you have something to continue to feed your body’s need for protein in such a small, lightweight product makes this a great purchase if it’s in your budget.

I don’t see any information on storage life, but they come in tablet form, so as long as they’re stored in a cool dry place, I bet they’ll last a very long time.
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Review of Total Home Prep Now

Total Home Prep Now $29.95

I was recently sent a DVD called Total Home Prep Now, which I watched and am going to give you my thoughts on.


From the DVD jacket:

“In just over one hour our exclusive DVD course will teach you everything you want and need to know about getting prepared. No fluff here just practical, easy to follow, step by step video lessons that will get you prepared faster than any other product on the market.”

Overall Video

The video is very well made.  Both presenters do a good job and the camera work was good as well.  They were able to squeeze a lot of information in just over an hour.  One thing I like is that they tell you what to search the Internet for to get more information on different subjects.  If they wanted to go in depth on all of the aspects of preparedness they would need to make this a series of DVD’s.  Listed below are the subjects they covered and my thoughts on them.



They do a really good job on this section; how to go about starting a pantry, explaining the two main rules of food storage and the enemies of food storage.

Some food staples are listed and they list expected shelf life.  They also explain what the shelf life is with and without storing things in Mylar with an oxygen absorber.

They do a great job of explaining how to store food in metal lined bags (Mylar), and cover some of the problems I ran into in the beginning.  Over the years, I have watched a fair number of videos of people putting up food for long term storage.  This was one of the better ones.

They used a bath canner and stored apples in jars.  They explained the entire process of blanching and soaking the apple to prevent the color from changing.  They also used a pressure canner to store chicken.  I found this pretty interesting, as I haven’t ever canned meats.



Gathering, treating and storing water is covered in pretty good detail.  Rain catchment and using a bathtub bladder are both covered.  They also show a clever idea on how to use a tarp and some poles to catch even more rain.

They explain some of the differences in water filters and bring up some points you should consider when looking for one.  They cover boiling water and how to store water in a 55 gallon drum.



This area covers topics like developing a family action plan, researching potential local threats, how to shut off your gas and electricity.



There are a few different ways listed to deal with sanitation.  I’m glad they covered this, as it is an area many people overlook.



Vehicle Prep covers some good info, including never letting your gas tank get below half and doing a vehicle once over, checking for problems with belts, tires and checking for leaks.


Do It Yourself

There are a fair amount of projects shown that you can do yourself.  Some of them are:

How to build your own water filter

How to put a spigot on a 55 gallon drum

How to grow sprouts

How to make a small cache out of PVC

How to dig a trench for a latrine

How to make a faraday cage


My Take

There were a few things that I disagree with them on, but on every one of them, they erred on the side of caution.  I also disagree that this DVD covers everything you’ll need to know, but it does cover some of the most important things.

This video would have saved me many hours of research in the beginning, and would be a great resource to anyone relatively new to prepping.  If you have been at preparedness for a few years, there are probably still some things you will learn, but you’re probably familiar with most of the content.

I usually base my rating system on how much value I feel I got out of the product.  I am going to give this DVD a rating from the stand point of someone who is relatively new to preparedness and not from the standpoint of someone who has a blog and talks about it.

As I mentioned above, this DVD would have saved me a lot of research on some of the most important aspects of preparedness.  I like that they gave some ideas for things to research if you want more information.  The DIY projects are an added bonus as well.

Because I think the DVD has a lot to offer to a newbie to preparedness, I give it four stars.