Archive for the ‘Survival Gear Product Review’ Category

The Ribz Front Pack Review (and how it applies to preppers)

January 21, 2013

A few weeks ago (at the suggestion of one of my readers) I picked up a fairly new product being marketed to outdoorsmen called a “Ribz Front Pack”. For those new to front packs, they are basically the opposite of a backpack in that you wear it up front.

After playing around with it for a little while now I thought I’d share with you guys some of my thoughts and opinions and most of all, how it’s beneficial to you as a prepper.

Review of the Ribz Front Pack

On first impression, the Ribz front pack reminds me of a cross between some of the old military “H-Harnesses” and the newer Load-Bearing Vests (LBVs) and chest harnesses — albeit much more lightweight and less heavy-duty.

It’s designed to be carried in front of your body when out on the trail to give you easy access to crucial gear when you need it at a moments notice.

The two ways to wear it are by itself (as displayed in the following picture) or with a backpack.

When wearing in tandem with a backpack, the theory is that because the Ribz front pack puts weight forward of your body, it will counterbalance a heavy load on your back.

It’s hard to see in the next picture but I have to say I did feel significantly more balanced with it on while hiking than with it off. Here I’m wearing a 45 lb. bug-out bag with only around 6 lbs of gear in the Ribz pack. Despite the weight difference, it still felt a lot more balanced.

There’s quite a lot of space in these packs. The smaller version can pack a little over 500 cubic inches (250 in each pouch) of gear and the larger one — pictured in this article — over 700 cubic inches (350 in each pouch).

Each of the pouches has an outside pocket that is accessed through a zipper. The pouches themselves also contain a main area that makes up most of the space and two elastic nets sewn into the inner wall of that area. These nets can stretch to accommodate some good-sized gear.

Just to give you an indication at how much 700 cubic inches is, here’s a picture of just one the pouches with a standard 14oz can of food being held in one of the elastic nets. Plenty of room to spare.

Overall, I really like the Ribz front pack — especially when worn in conjunction with a backpack. Also, the fact that it sits over the ribs (probably why it’s named “Ribz”) makes lack of maneuverability not an issue.

So how would this piece of gear apply to us preppers? Here are my thoughts…

Personal Application of the Ribz Wear Product

If you’ve read my survival kit article then you’d know that I am a big fan of having my survival kits segmented into 3 distinct tiers.

In a nutshell, the three-tiered kit approach is as follows:

  • Tier 1: Commonly referred to as your EDC (Every-Day-Carry) kit, this kit includes all those items that you would need to survive that can fit directly on your person (ie. in your pockets, on your belt, in your wallet, on your keychain etc).Basically if you had to ditch everything, and run with only the clothes on your back, what would remain would be your “Tier-1″ kit. This is what I have with me all the time and carry every day.
  • Tier 2: Your Tier-2 kit is what is commonly called The Get Home Bag. This kit is a compact and easy-to-carry kit that would fit in a small backpack, fanny-pack, purse or similar “bag” containing core survival items that could sustain you for around 24 hours or more — the theory being that it gives you just enough time to get home, hence the name “Get-Home Bag”.I try to carry this with me at all times as well, but there are times when this is not possible.
  • Tier 3: Finally, the Tier-3 kit is what we all know as our Bug-Out Bag, Go-Bag, 72-Hour Kit and so on. It’s a larger pack or bag that contains enough gear and supplies to sustain you for 3 days or more with the intent of taking you from a ground zero location to a safer spot.My Tier-3 kit sits at home, waiting for a time I hope never comes.

In a bug-out or extreme-survival scenario, my ideal is to have all three kits. Not just with me, but on me.

You might ask, wouldn’t the Tier-3 Kit be enough?

Well, packing everything in a Bug-Out Bag can still be a liability if you ever needed to ditch that big bag for whatever reason.

Since all your gear — essentially your lifeline — is tied to that bag, ditching it while bugging out would be a huge problem if that’s all you had. Having redundancy across multiple “tiers” will give you insurance should you need to leave your main bag behind.

All my kits (Tier 1, 2 and 3) are built upon the same foundation. The gear may be different, due to size and weight constraints, but in the end they all have the same six categories:

Personal Health and Security

Included in this category are all those things I would need to provide healing, health, safety and protection to myself and others. It includes items like first-aid and trauma kits, medicine, firearms, pepper spray and so on.


These are items that provide protection from the elements. This could be a tent, blankets, sleeping bag, emergency Mylar blankets, extra clothing and so on


All those things that I would need to procure, carry, purify and filter water. Things like portable water filters, purification tablets, water containers, water bladders and other related items would be part of this group.

Heat and Energy

Items in this category help provide heat, light and energy as well as assist in making fires. Here you could find matches, lighters, firesteel, tinder, flashlights and lanterns, extra batteries, portable solar chargers and more.


This category includes actual food as well as items to procure and get food. MREs, snares/traps, dehydrated foods, canned goods and other things would be what you’d find here.


This final category includes all those other things that make survival easier. It could be a GPS or compass for navigation, an emergency radio, an axe, a knife, a saw and more.

With the three-tiered approach to your kits, I like to have as much redundancy as possible. In other words, I try to include (as best as possible) items from each of these categories across all three tiers. Sometimes, this will lead to duplication, but I’d prefer that to the alternative.

An example of this in my set up is, I have a Katadyn water filter in my Tier-3 kit (my Bug-Out Bag), a Seychelle water-filter straw in my Tier-2 kit and I always carry a couple of water-purification tablets with me as part of my Tier-1 or EDC kit.

So where does the Ribz front pack fit into all of this?

Well, up to this point, I really didn’t have a good solution for a Tier-2 kit. I thought of a fanny pack but that was uncomfortable when hiking and I can’t stand having a lot of weight at the belt line.

This front pack really helps to make carrying my second tier a whole lot easier. Best of all, the Ribz front pack allows you to have essential gear up front so that if you had to access some key items while on the go, you wouldn’t have to stop, take off your backpack and dig through it to get your needed gear. In addition, you now have an insurance policy if you had to (heaven forbid) drop your main pack and jet out of there.

As an added bonus, I really like the non-tactical look of it. If you were to wear it by itself when on the trail, it doesn’t draw too much attention.

If you’re interested in purchasing a RIBZ or learning more (I don’t receive any commissions for sales of these) go to


The ATAX (Product Review)

January 21, 2013

Well, to start out I wanted to do more with this knife from an engineering standpoint.

However because we are going “great GUNS” pun intended…at work I didn’t get a chance to take the passaround to the materials lab to do some tests on it.

Between work and getting ready for the littleone’s arrival I didn’t get to field test as extensively either.

I did however take the ATAX out this weekend and did get to do some actual cutting and chopping with it.

Well, first of all I sat down and watched Ron’s video on the ATAX paying attention to his tips, tricks, and warnings about the very sharp edges and functions built into the blade.

So after familiarizing myself with the features for the second time (watched the video with my Father-in-law a few weeks ago)I decided to take the ATAX along with BOB for a walk in the rolling foothills of the Adirondack Park.

The first thing I noticed about carrying the ATAX was that it was better to carry either over the right hip or small of the back because of the unique sheath design.

I won’t say that the ATAX was uncomfortable to carry, just that it took a little to get comfortable for me. I carry my regular knives mostly in leather sheaths in the traditional carry position. Once I got the feel of the ATAX riding in the sheath I felt more comfortable as time went on.

I tried a few of the different features such at the Clinometer , and the sundial.

I even tried the rangefinder feature out on a couple fencposts.(Sorry for the crappy pic)

I also tried some light chopping with the ATAX, however I didn’t have a ziptie to secure the head as safely as I would’ve liked so I made a tether from my wrist to the head, and it served adequately enough to limb out part of a maple near my fall deerblind.

In the chopping mode the ATAX wasn’t as effective as purpose built choppers I brought along to compare it to, however we have to keep in mind this is an all purpose tool not a single use implement.

As a fine tool for whittling or making a fuzzstick the ATAX worked as good as any camp or bushknife in my experience.

One other project was to try to shoot an arrow using a piece of stout cord and some surgical tubing I brought along for the occasion.

I was only able to fire the arrow I had brought along a total of 3 times before my tubing broke and gave me a nasty bit*hslap in the middle of the forehead! :stretcher:


All in all I would rate the utility of the ATAX an honest 7.5 to 8 10!

The ATAX does alot of things well, that’s what it was designed to do, functionality and utility of the blade was what I think Ron was striving for.
I believe he succeeded!
Things I would like to see to improve the ATAX would be:

A) Make it easier to access the storage compartment by using a larger slot in the screw so that a nickle or dime or quarter can be used to unscrew the handle.

B) make a groove in the handle at the point where the arrow rests on the handle, this would ease the release of the arrow and there would be less tailing problems on release.

C)Make a version of the ATAX with a non-blasted finish to ease in chopping and extraction from wood. The sandblasted finish aids in precision cutting when fingers are close to the edge, however I’m a big boy and if I slip I can use the provided fishline and hook to “suture self”.