The “COOL” factor can get you killed.
I have been involved in the wilderness survival / Prepper sub-culture for most of my life.  As a youth my time in the forest with my friends was an introduction to the lessons I would come to learn. Sports like hunting and fishing, trapping and snowshoeing as well as rock climbing and camping were the precursor to advanced survival skills.
I read every book available and was proud to transpose that knowledge to the real world, first to master the skill set and then to impress my friends.  Some of these friends also took to the same path but via a different trail. I am lucky to call many great woodsmen my friends. The time we spend together as a rowdy band of fools often turns into an unmatched cross training exorcise.
The norm these days is to pick up a magazine at the local mall for the latest hub bub on the art/skill/science of self-sufficiency.  The COOL factor is just so high.  The covers of some of these wonderful volumes of modern lore are such eye candy we just can’t help but pick one or two up.  Even the internet (YouTube) has become the latest venue for stand in or surrogate instruction. Now I’m not saying this is bad, indeed I myself love watching people share new ideas (or even old ones) it not only gives me pride in my fellow Brothers and Sisters but it allows me to learn  new ways to convey an idea.
But here’s the rub.  Some of these weekend warriors will have great photos or video showing gear that they HIGHLY recommend. My issue is of course is most of this gear is new, unused; scratch free, clean and in retail packaging. What the heck?
Is this your first time using this stuff? What are you basing your opinion on?  Your lack of real testing or just legitimate use could get me killed if I rely on it.
Before I give any gear or technique the nod I want to use it….REALLY USE IT.  I have destroyed good gear. I’m not talking about destruction testing (although I think this type of testing is fantastic) I mean putting equipment to the test through hard labor. Knives are used, tents set up and left up, filters used in the nastiest types of water, miles of rough terrain go on my boots and packs and everything carried by them.  If an item fails after two years of hard use it has not failed…it has supplied two years of reliable service and I will report as much. Two months will give you the same report…if you are comfortable with two months of service so be it.  I do however USE the gear before I post a report.  So next time you see an article about a favorite knife, backpack or mess kit check the info closely. Look for signs of use and not just signs of cool.  The difference can save you some grief.

Stay Safe
RJ Mosca