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Category Archives: Gear

Personal Security and Security Cameras

Personal Security and Security Cameras

Security cameras have never been high on my list of priorities for our home. I simply never saw the need for them. We live in a low-crime area, there is someone at our home a vast majority of the time and security cameras are expensive. They are a pain. They are unnecessary.

Right?

Well, now we have them. And I can’t see myself going back to not having them any time soon.

The decision to get cameras was mine and mine alone. I have been traveling a lot of late and my children are spending more time with sitters. Not more time than what they spend with me or their father but more time in general. I am uncomfortable being away from my children and not being able to see or hear them or even know if something is happening to them.

I’ve also watched way too many videos of people finding out their pets or children are being abused via security camera to dismiss the idea that people can seem perfectly reasonable and trustworthy until they think you aren’t watching them.

I have trust issues.

So, I bought and installed security cameras in our home primarily for the purpose of being able to check in on my children and home at any time, day or night, when I’m not there.

When I started looking for cameras I was both unsurprised but amazed at how far the technology has come. Of course, like anything else, I could have gone super cheap and limited such as limited, low-quality video only to super expensive and sophisticated with pan and zoom, HD video with sound and recording capabilities. For less than $100 I got two cameras that have the capability of taking video and sound, day or night (via IR) that transmits via our wireless network in our home.

I got the cameras on a Friday and had them set up in a few hours. I also learned these puppies have some cool features I wasn’t expecting such as motion and sound detection that can be set by sensitivity and location. I also learned that with an app on my cell phone I could get notifications of movement and sound anywhere I had a cell signal.

Figuring out where to put the cameras was an interesting chore.

My poor husband had exceptional patience with me as I took each camera, connected to an extra-long extension cord and had him follow me around the house with my laptop so I could see at what angles I had the most coverage of the most lived rooms in the house.

We got them set and I started fiddling with the features.

Since we have pets, motion detection, I thought, was going to be a drag. Until I learned that I could narrow the scope of the area to report motion detection to select areas of the camera’s view including up, off the floor. I narrowed in the motion to areas of entrance to our house so that I wouldn’t get notifications for my cat jumping on the couch or the kids watching tv. For the most part it works very well.

I do get false motion detection notifications from time to time but not on such a regular basis that it keeps me from checking them.

For sound detection, I was able to set the decibel level to be alerted to for each camera but I eventually turned that off because, with kids, the decibels are all over the place. I can remotely turn it on and off if we are out of the house or schedule it for certain hours.

Which leads me to the moment I realized that these camera things have a lot more potential for home and personal security than just checking in on my kids and home while I’m away.

It all started while I was at swimming lessons with my kids. My phone alerted me that one of the cameras had detected movement. I touched the notification while sitting beside the pool and was immediately shown live video feed of my home where I saw the figure of a man entering my house. I looked at the time and noticed it was early to be my husband but within moments the man came into view and I saw that it was, indeed, my husband.

“How cool!” I thought. I sent my husband a text message, “Welcome home!” to which he responded by telling me how creepy it was to know I was watching him.

Knowing that I would be alerted to anyone being in my home before they could even get through my door was a pretty cool feeling which led me to my next big personal security revelation.

A few days later, after parking in the garage, I picked up my phone and did a quick remote scan of the house before deciding to go in. While there are certainly blind spots that the cameras don’t see I liked the idea of being able to visually check where I was going before I went there, a luxury we rarely get.

When the time came to leave our children with a sitter, with the help of the sound and motion alerts I was able to check in from time to time and see them being played with, fed and kindly cared for in my absence. Everything a concerned parent wants.

I admit to being a total feed-viewing junkie for the first few days which lead to my husband’s sigh and a hopeful, “When the novelty wears off, I hope you stop going all NSA on us.”

My remote viewing has certainly died down quite a bit, but I still enjoy watching him scurry around the house to clean when I message him to tell him I’m on my way home (not that it’s required of him, but that he does that out of love for me) or even getting short bursts of play that I’m missing while at a class or an event.

I go back and forth between feeling paranoid and relieved and even though my husband doesn’t particularly like the cameras he’s been happy with my reports of feeling positive for buying them.

“$100 is a small price to pay for peace of mind,” he tells me and he’s right. There is a certain amount of peace-of-mind that comes with them where a big question mark was before.

We’ve even decided to add a few more and to enable recording to eliminate the few blind spots we have.

So far, all we’ve caught is a lot of play, love, some jumping on the couches and cat baths. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Dear Gun Manufacturers: Make Me A Gun!

Dear Gun Manufacturers: Make Me A Gun!

I love that gun manufacturers are starting to really give us little people what we need.

With concealed carry booming and available in all fifty states of our union, with national reciprocity of some sorts on the horizon (it’s going to happen, people!) and the continued surge of female carriers and shooters the need for full-size, double-stack combat pistols is going to be met by the need of compact pistols that people can carry concealed but also shoot well.

Ahh.. shoot well.

There it is. The operative phrase.

Shoot. Well.

Let’s not mince words, there are hundreds of compact carry pistols on the market. I could go to a gun store today and pick up a P3AT or an LCP or a S&W Shield or Bodyguard or a Kahr PM9. I could go even smaller if I wanted to cut caliber or more capacity and potentially increasing my displeasure at the range. I could also go slightly larger and find a far more comfortable shooting gun and struggle with concealment.

The problem is (and well known) that many of the best carry guns are notoriously hard to shoot. Okay, the Shield isn’t bad (it’s actually quite good), but there are still people who do not find it easy to shoot.

We NEED a missing link. I’m stressing need here because I’m going to be addressing the needs of many people (men and women) all over the industry.

I am a small female and I’m not the only one. I’m also not the only one who has small hands or prefers single stack firearms. There are thousands upon thousands of women and men, like me, who have been begging and pleading for smaller-framed firearms that fit better in the grip and hand. You have answered the call by making single-stack 9mms! Thank you!

But for some reason you’ve assumed that means we have to have short barrels, too. That’s not necessarily so.

We all know that the lighter and more compact the firearm the more recoil the shooter needs to control and absorb. For individuals who already have lesser upper body strength, small hands or disabilities like arthritis this makes compact pistols intimidating and hard to control. Even if they love the gun for its size they shy away from shooting it or muscle through it for the sake of training to end up with sore elbows and wrists and arms. Not to mention we all know that longer sight radii help with accuracy.

Where are the small-frame, single stack, long-slide firearms that don’t come in the form of 1911s or also have long grips?

Glock 43 vs a S&W Shield

Glock 43 vs a S&W Shield

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my Shield. It’s a great carry gun and the best compact 9mm I’ve ever shot. I will likely end up with a Glock 43 in my arsenal as well. I might even carry both. At the same time!

But I (and others) would pay good money for a S&W M&P 9mm Shield with a 4″ barrel (particularly threaded so that I might be able to add weight to the end for better recoil management, but I’ll start with a standard barrel, thankyouverymuch). I would also love for the grip to remain the same length but with options for larger/longer magazines. This way I could still carry the 4″ model if I wanted to (because it’s the grip that is hardest to conceal, not the barrel) but I could still compete and practice with a 9 or 10 round magazine.

Glock, if you’re listening, how about a 44? Please? A G19 length barrel with a G43 frame… that’s all I’m asking (oh, and larger capacity magazines with sleeves but baby steps).

Pretty Please? I would rock that.

Forever Yours,
Melody Lauer

The AIWB Holster Hack

The AIWB Holster Hack

I’ve been carrying Appendix Inside-the-Waistband (AIWB) for almost six months now. The only holster I’ve used has been the Keeper Errand which I reviewed some time ago. I have found no reason to go away from Keeper’s fine holster.

My much abused foam wedge compared to the gel insert.

My much abused foam wedge compared to the gel insert.

One of the awesome things about Spencer’s holster is the foam wedge that helps pad the holster, cushion it for comfort and support an ideal carry position. For the most part, his foam holster wedges did a really good job of making AIWB carry that much more comfortable and convinced me they were a great addition to the AIWB way of carry.

However, after losing 10 lbs in the last few months I found the foam wedge not doing much to pad the holster. Not to mention the foam wedge only covered the tip of the holster, not the rest of the back where I needed more padding against my pelvic bone. The first wedge wore out (foam does that) and I was just about to change it to the next wedge when I went to the range. That trip changed my AIWB carry forever!

I have awesome ear pro! The muffs aren’t foam padded they are gel padded and even wearing glasses underneath of them is no problem. The gel forms a perfect seal around my ear and doesn’t leave pressure points or hot spots. That got me thinking. Could there be something similar for an AIWB holster?

So, off I went to walmart to look at shoe inserts. And there, descended from the heavens of the AIWB gods, were Dr Scholl’s Massaging Heel Cushions.

At $5.50, there was no reason not to try them.

Men's and women's heel cushions and Industrial strength Velcro. Less than $10 at you're local walmart.

Men’s and women’s heel cushions and Industrial strength Velcro. Less than $10 at you’re local walmart.

Not wanting to whip out my holster to check which size I would need, men’s or women’s, I bought both along with a box of industrial-strength Velcro.

If you carry an AIWB holster, this is pretty much the best thing you can ever do in the way of comfort and cushioning.

The women's size 6-10 is the perfect fit for the Keeper Errand.

The women’s size 6-10 is the perfect fit for the Keeper Errand.

The women’s size 6-10 might as well have been custom fit for the Keeper Errand holster. It fits like a glove.

Not only do they have the wedge shape that is great for AIWB that keeps it in ideal place for carry but they also have a wrap-around support meant for a heel that is perfect for protecting a wearer’s skin from the rough and pinching edges of kydex.

The back of the Keeper Errand is already covered in soft Velcro for the foam wedges so all I needed to do was carefully place the hook-side of the Velcro to the inside of the gel heel cushions and stick it to the holster.

Not only is it far softer and cushier, the increase in surface area of the heel cushions to the holster vs the foam wedge significantly increases the overall comfort all the way up the back of the holster vs one spot.

Men's size 8-10 fits perfect on the JM Custom Kydex.

Men’s size 8-10 fits perfect on the JM Custom Kydex.

That evening, when my husband got home from work, I asked him to try it. He was amazed by how much more comfortable it was and asked me to do the same mod to his JM Custom Kydex AIWB holster. His holster has a larger footprint and, as fate would have it, the men’s heel cushion was the perfect size for his holster.

A quick application of Velcro to the cushion and the holster and he was rocking his own AIWB Lima-mod. another thing he noticed was the stickiness of the gel keeps the holster form shifting and even helps keep undershirts tucked in. Another added benefit.

Because it’s attached with Velcro its easily customizable to your needs to cover any hot spots and being a sturdy gel it will far out-last any other cushions you could hope to add to something so well-used as a holster.

If you carry AIWB, this might be something to check out.

Oh, by the way, you’re welcome!

A little added Velcro and ready to install.

A little added Velcro and ready to install.

Pressure on the holster wraps the gel around the holster for more cushioning around the sides.

Pressure on the holster wraps the gel around the holster for more cushioning around the sides.

Look at all that padding!

Look at all that padding!

The Thing About Holsters

The Thing About Holsters

Holsters are like sewing machines. Needle goes up. Needle goes down. Gun goes in. Gun goes out. I probably don’t have a lot of sewers amongst my readers but I’m sure you get the drift and can follow along. You need to get a job done. You don’t want to spend a lot of money so you buy the cheapest you can get and discover that you got exactly what you paid for. It does the bare minimum and not much more. In sewing, as in holsters, you can do the bare minimum. You can hem pants and take in a seam here or there. But, in one as with the other, when you go further you find out there’s a whole lot more to it.

Before I go too far down the road of sewing analogies for non-sewing people let me bring it home for you.

Your holster sucks!

There. I said it.

You think it’s the cat’s meow because… Well, it holds your gun. As a bonus, it holds it pretty comfortably. It may even be pretty good at concealing it.

What else is there?

Access. Retention. Reholstering. To name a few.

When I got my first sewing machine my mother warned me it was a starter machine that I would outgrow if I ever got serious about sewing. I told her that was fine because who gets serious about sewing?

It took me just about six months to decide I needed a new machine.

Lots of people buy holsters and forget (or don’t know) that the average holster on the shelf at your local gun store is a starter holster. Meant to be ditched at the first possible moment or skipped entirely if you are serious about carrying.

Who, here, isn’t serious about carrying his gun?

I would hope that people who come to this blog do so with a seriousness in regards to the responsibility of carrying a lethal weapon. They want the very best gear that allows them the best chance at defending their lives and the lives of those they love. And here I am telling them their holster sucks. How the hell do I know? Who do I think I am?

You want to know when I knew that I needed a new sewing machine? When I tried to sew a dress. I’d sewn a hundred different projects and my machine had worked perfectly. I even went to a sewing class and the instructor said my machine was fine. I was getting a little cocky with my machine. What did my Mom know? She’d only sewn clothes since she was in high school and a couple dozen quilts and her own wedding dress. Surely my modern machine was as good.

I got all the pieces cut out. I laid them all out. Put my fabric in the machine to sew step 1 of my adorable dress for my 3 year-old little girl and my machine did a poor job on what, I assumed, was a very basic stitch. I later went to a friend of mine with a better machine and saw that her machine did that same stitch way better.

I found it lacking again on another project, and another and before long I was trolling craigslist and asking, “Mom, what features would you suggest I look for in my next machine so that I can finish this project and those like it?”

What does this have to do with holsters?

People start to get disillusioned about their holsters because they never go past drawing and holstering. They never attempt to sew the dress. They may get all the pieces cut and sorted. They may even set them all out together and get them all pinned in place but they never actually try to put them all together. In their mind, this idea of self-defense is like the picture of the completed dress on the front of a pattern. It looks pretty. It looks neat. It looks easy. But the tool they used to get from scraps of cloth to a finished piece of clothing is lacking.

Yeah, having that gun held up under your boob with the velcro loop adding retention and the grip tucked so far down it’s barely visible while holstered sure is comfy. It sure is concealable, too. But getting to that thing when your shoved up against a wall and you’re trying to keep someone from strangling you is a little different than standing on an empty range with all the time in the world and no pressure of death or disarmament.

It may seem like your firearm is retained very well, even when lying down or rolling around. But what about when you’re in the clench and someone knees the bottom of your gun and because the holster doesn’t cover it completely, it’s ejected like a jack-in-the-box, minus the funky music. POP!

Reholstering in that soft-sided holster sure is easy when you’re standing in your bedroom and can take your time to carefully open the mouth with your off-hand with no distractions and nothing else to do. It’s quite a bit different when you’ve just shot someone and have to put your gun away so that you can grab both your kids and move to safety. But your hands are shaking from the adrenaline, you can’t see straight from tunnel vision and you’re scared half to death.

You never tried to sew the dress. You never put it all together.

You don’t know how that holster will perform when it’s needed to pull off the entire package of self defense in a worst case scenario.

Even before the extreme close quarters gun fighting class and before the Krav classes that allowed me to bring my holsters and dummy guns so I could train like I fight, I was asking people to attack me. I’m strange like that. Ten years ago I told my husband I wouldn’t even get a permit to carry until I could train with the gun. I did not want to assume that the mere presence of a gun would immediately make me safer. From the first days of measuring out 21 feet in our one-bedroom apartment and telling my husband to rush me to see if I could get under my cover garment in time to now running matches with attack targets and force-on-force, I’ve constantly been updating my ideas on what it means to fight (really FIGHT) with a gun.

I’ve attended one close quarters gun fighting class and knife classes and hand-to-hand combat classes to learn exactly what it looks like when you have to put all of those little pieces together.  To sew the dress, if you will.

Those experiences have taught me that many, many people have no idea what a good fighting holster looks like or even how important it is. They believe just having it on their body is enough.

It’s a GREAT start. For sure! I’d rather have a gun on body than in my bag in my car or, worse, the center console.

*Shiver*

I get it. I REALLY do. You need to use deep concealment because you’ll get fired from your anti-gun work environment if you’re found out. You’re using the only holster you’ve ever found that’s comfortable and if you aren’t comfortable then you will leave your gun at home.

I agree! I would rather you have your gun on your body than at home or in a bag for your 2 year-old to find.

But, please, don’t settle.

Maybe you aren’t sure if your holster is up to the task. Maybe you genuinely don’t know how your holster will perform.

Here are some ways you can test it (with a dummy gun or appropriately disabled firearm).

1) Draw your gun on a clock.
Lots of people find their retention devices or poor molding make the gun hang up when things start jerking and moving.
2) Draw, on the clock, from concealment one-handed.
Here’s where people start to see cover garments and straps get in the way. Velcro catching on cotton, extra layers catching on grips.
3) Draw your gun on a clock, one-handed while someone is throwing soft hits at your face.
Add all the frustrations of the above with disorientation.
4) Draw your gun, one-handed while doing all of the above from the ground.
Some people are surprised to find that their holsters won’t even retain their firearms while they are laying down. Imagine getting knocked down and all of a sudden your gun is gone.
5) Draw your gun while moving.
6) Draw your gun while on your back and kicking, trying to be cognoscente of not sweeping your own body.
7) Try keeping your gun in your holster while someone tries to take it away from you.

How did your holster perform? How fast could you get it out? How many potentially lethal blows did you take before you gained access to your gun if you were able to access it at all? How quickly could you reholster safely? Did your draw stroke start falling apart? Did you find your gun start to hang up on areas of your holster or your clothing because of where you need to keep it with your chosen holster system?

If you’ve never tried to do any of those things you haven’t tried to sew the dress. You don’t know.

If you have done those things and your holster performed flawlessly. Congratulations. You may have a decent one.

If you’ve done those things, found your holster lacking and still want to carry it because it’s the most comfortable holster you own. That’s fine, too. That’s on you! At least you know. Knowing means you can plan accordingly!

I want you to carry your gun in comfort and concealment and I want you to feel safe with it. I also want you to be aware that in and out is only a very small piece of the puzzle and I don’t want you to find that out in a time of need.

The other day someone asked for a list of recommended holster makers. That could be helpful. But what’s more helpful is listing the features to look for in a holster. Some holster makers make more than one product or change their product and then end up with a bad product. A feature to look for (or avoid) is far more helpful than a list of “approved” holsters.

1) Trigger guard covered (DUH!)
2) Molded to the make/model of your firearm
3) Holster covers to the end of the barrel
4) Solid attachments to the body
5) Molded out of a solid material around the entire circumference of the firearm
6) Retention devices that work with the natural draw stroke and do not include the trigger finger
7) Allow full firing grip while firearm is still in the holster
8) Reinforced/solid open mouth
9) Carried in a location that minimizes the risk of sweeping the wearer

The people who disagree with me will come out of the woodwork and tell me their holster is spun gold. That’s fine. I don’t have to worry about it. I’m not responsible for them. I’m only responsible for me.

You are only responsible for you!

I picked on holsters today but I could have chosen any self defense tool to throw under the bus.

Test it. See how it’s really going to work in a time of need.

To illustrate this I’ll give you an example:

A group of firearms instructors (myself included) were asked to audit a new class and give our feedback before it was opened to the public. One of the instructors bought a new AIWB holster and was raving about how good it was. It looked comfortable. It had all of the things I listed as ideal features on a holster. He had put tons of draws through it at home before bringing it to the class.

We got up to the firing line and he went to draw while in a hurry and the gun completely locked up in his holster. He stood on the firing line for an extra 10 seconds just trying to get his gun out of his holster.

He had to jam the gun back down into his holster and rock it back before he could get it out again.

He kind of shrugged it off as a fluke and for a while nothing happened. Then it happened again. We did some investigating later and realized that the area around the ejection port was so over-molded, when he really yanked the gun straight up, the edge of his ejection port literally imbedded itself into the edge of the holster and completely locked it up.

This didn’t happen when he drew his gun gently, only when he was trying to get it out in a hurry. Had he never put that holster through the steps of drawing quickly under that mild of stress he would have never known until it was too late.

You must test your gear in a stressful environment. You must try to sew the dress. Put it all together and see what kind of garment it makes.

Carrying It All

Carrying It All

At least once a month I get asked how I carry everything. I also get asked exactly what I carry.

I have never done a post about everything I carry or how because that fluctuates rather frequently and I get sick of people who try to tell me what I should and should not carry and how based upon not knowing me, my lifestyle, my needs or my priorities. But I get to ignore those people!

I drop hints here and there which inevitably ends with someone asking, “How do you carry it all?”

For those who are genuinely interested, here it is!

The things I carry can be broken down into four categories: defensive, medical, baby, and chapstick. Each category has its own rules, rolls and priorities, and by those rules and priorities they are organized and carried.

wpid-20150104_232957.jpgDefensive

The rules: Defensive, lethal tools are carried on body with minimal exceptions. This is to maximize my access and minimize unauthorized access.

My gun, a S&W M&P Shield, is the primary defensive lethal tool that I carry on a daily basis. It is carried Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) pretty much from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed with very few exceptions.

My secondary defensive tools are any number of knives (the TDI LEO, Benchmade Mini Griptillian or Benchmade Triage) or a collapsible baton (an ASP Agent P12). If I have a pocket it more than likely has a knife in it. The other pocket might have my baton or chapstick or my flashlight (A Streamlight PT 1L) depending on foreseen.

ASP kubaton and pepper spray is carried in hand.

ASP kubaton and pepper spray is carried in hand.

My other defensive tool of utmost importance to me is my kubaton and pepper spray combo, the ASP key defender. It looks like any black, cylindrical key chain but it has a small safety catch that can be flicked off that allows you to push a button on the back end of the device and eject a blast of pepper spray. Because it is small it is discreet but it’s still big enough to be a formidable little weapon. Because it’s attached to my keys it spends a fair amount of time in my hand. I carry it in my hand when walking to and from my car and or it is loosely hooked to my person in some way for easy access at any other time.

Because I have so many knives that can be used for utilitarian or defensive purposes my knives often move from pocket to pocket and to my bag and back again.

My baton also seems to do that. I don’t concern myself with my baton too often, however, because any one of my knives or my flashlight or even my kubaton and pepper spray combo key chain can be used as impact weapons. Though there has been one particular time I deliberately prepared myself to use my baton over all of my other defensive tools. (Another story for another day.)

wpid-2015-01-05-00.08.44.png.png

Med Pocket

Medical

The rules: All medical supplies are carried in my Maxpedition Lunada in a single compartment where they can be immediately accessed, one-handed if need be. No other, non-medical equipment is kept in that compartment to limit disorganizing the contents thereof.

My EDC bag is a roving medical kit. It includes quikclot combat gauze, a C.A.T tourniquet, an Israeli pressure bandage, a pair of trauma sheers (bad ones, actually), co-flex, paper medical tape, more bandaids than should reasonably be in a bag, an Epi pen, nitrile gloves, four triangular bandages, some 2×2 and 4×4 gauze pads, petroleum gauze and a tension pneumothorax needle.

In other locations in my bag I also have two bandanas, an EMS field guide book and a small pouch on the side of my bag filled with paper tape and 2×2 gauze pads for my son who is allergic to the adhesive in bandaids.

Lots of people have assumed I leave this bag in the car. They are mistaken. My EDC bag goes with me. Everywhere. If I need medical equipment I likely don’t want to have to go out to my car to get it. If my husband or son is having a severe allergic reaction to a sting or my daughter pulls a shopping cart on top of herself and smashes her face in (true story), I don’t want to have to go to the car. I like being able to unzip my bag, pull out what I need (one-handed, because the other hand is usually cradling a baby) and do what needs to be done. Which would also be helpful if there were any other serious trauma going on.

Baby

The rules: Baby gear goes with baby and is limited to what can reasonably be expected to be needed in the given time frame.

If I’m running in and out of a store, I don’t carry anything baby related. If I’m going to be somewhere for a couple of hours I might throw a diaper into my bag. If I’m going somewhere over night, I will add wipes, a change of clothes and a couple more diapers. Baby carriers are usually left in the car and depending on where I’m going, when and for how long I might choose to wrap my baby, put him in a stroller or in a shopping cart.

As in the picture above, a hip wrap allows me to carry baby and my bag and still have access to my gun. A win all around.

wpid-20150104_234445.jpgChapstick

The rules: Everything else is up for grabs!

Everything else is my bag is filed under “chapstick” because it’s not necessary to my survival but it’s really nice to have. There are important things in that category like my wallet, my cell phone, my flashlight (when it’s not in my pocket) and chapstick. There are some convenience items, too, like hair ties, feminine products, a comb, a lens cleaning cloth, a small pouch of essential oils, a couple multi-tools, some rubber bands, a gift card for starbucks and other junk that I’m too lazy to claw out just to list for you.

If, for whatever reason, I was expected to leave my bag behind I would make sure to take my ID, carry permit and money out of my wallet and find a way to carry them on my body or in hand along with my phone and my flashlight. There are those who adamantly believe those items should be carried on body and prioritized along with guns and other defensive tools. I don’t disagree that they are important but when you are as little as I am you have to pick your space pretty carefully. When I carry that stuff on my body or in hand I find myself putting it down too often or fiddling with it which is why I carry a bag in the first place. No fiddling!

Priorities

I prioritize what I carry and organize it by what I deem to be most necessary to save a life in any particular emergency.

Because a fight for my life will likely be immediate, I carry my lethal defensive tools on my body.

While certainly emergent, a medical or trauma emergency will likely be after the fight for my life is over or in a setting where taking the second or two to open my bag isn’t going to make a huge difference in the outcome. Even within the pockets of my bag my items are organized for quick access and order of emergency. My tourniquet and Epi pen are probably two of the most immediately accessible items in my bag. My trauma shears aren’t even in my bag, they are on the outside. If one of my family is having a severe allergic reaction or bleeding to death in front of me I don’t want to be fumbling for the right gear.

Baby and Chapstick items are not emergent. When I need those items I have time to look in my bag for them. Thanks to the organization of my bag, however, I usually don’t have to search long.

The Maxpedition Lunada

The Maxpedition Lunada

The Bag

It stands to reason that in my discussion about what I carry I should talk about the bag itself. I didn’t just grab any old bag off the shelf and expect it to fit my needs. I tried a few different ones, too, and took quite a bit of time decided what would work best for me.

I wanted something small–well, smaller. I knew that whatever bag I got I would fill and more stuff means heavier bag and there would be a point where it would be so heavy I would start leaving it behind. That had happened with my last bag and I wanted to avoid it.

I also wanted something that would carry on my back and be ambidextrous to keep my hands and hips free for baby. I needed something I could organize into specific pockets for med gear and MOLLE is always a nice touch.

The Maxpedition Lunada fits all of those needs and then some. I have plenty of room for what I need and some left over. There’s a quick release on the front strap in case I need to ditch the bag completely. I wrote a more comprehensive review of the bag a while ago which you can read here.

My carry system allows me to carry everything I believe I might need to save my own life or the life of someone I love in a pretty wide variety of emergencies. The way I organize it makes sense to me as far as access, safety and time concerns. It keeps me fairly unencumbered and hands-free but within arms reach of whatever I might need.wpid-20150104_235201.jpg

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