Product Review: Bear Minimum Bear Bowl

Bear Bowl

Bear Bowl expandedAdvantages: Folds up REAL small
Disadvantages: Insufficient heating
Rating: 2 out of 5

I backed this campaign on Indiegogo because I was looking for a way to carry around a cup to heat up water that wouldn’t take up a lot of space inside my go-bag.

The Bear bowl is a different kind of bowl: It has a lightweight aluminum base to suck up the heat from your stove, and then some slick plasticky stuff on top that folds together to make the bowl itself.

It does require a little effort to get the bowl to fold together correctly the first time you try it, but after that, it’s pretty intuitive. To test out the bowl in it’s natural environment, I set up my Esbit stove on a baking sheet on my kitchen table while I was waiting for the power to come on last week, filled up the bowl with 2 cups of water, lit the fuel tab, and off we went.

Light it up!I apologize for the low-quality pic, but lighting with the lights out was less-than-optimal. The Esbit lit up like it’s supposed to, and the water started to heat up.

A brief explanation on why I want a stove and some way to heat water in my bug out bag: I don’t have any Mountain Home meals or similar in my bag because I’m not planning on using that gear for the long-term. The purpose of my bug out bag is to keep me going for a minimum of three days, and I can survive quite nicely (if a little hungrily) on energy bars and similar food for three days, maybe even a week. The stove is there to boil water if I need to purify it and to heat up water for instant coffee. Yes, you can survive without coffee, but why would you want to?

With that in mind, it’s important to me that my stove and water container can create good rolling boil to make sure all the bad critters in the water are well and truly dead, and sadly, this is were the Bear bowl falls down on the job.

Not a real boilThe Esbit fuel tab took around eight and half minute to burn up, and the picture at right shows the best boil I could get with this bowl. While that level of boil may be good for heating up freeze-dried meals or for coffee, it’s not going to work for purifying water. I’ve seen videos where an Esbit stove is capable of getting a rolling boil in around six minutes, so what I suspect is happening here is that the fabric on the bottom on the bowl is acting like an insulator (as plastic is wont to do) and impeding the boiling process. This test was done at sea-level. How this bowl will perform in the mountains is anybody’s guess.

In addition to this, the Bear bowl requires a controlled flame on the bottom of the bowl to work, and I question it’s utility for heating up water on a campfire or an improvised grill, and I just can’t guarantee I’ll have a stove handy if I have to use my bug out bag.

Bottom line is, I give the people behind the Bear bowl full marks for creative thinking and coming up with a unique way to save space when you’re trekking into the great outdoors. For me and my needs, though, it’s back to a metal cup when it comes to boiling water when no power is to be found.

Living In A Post-Irmageddon World

Six years ago, I wrote about how watching the .gov screw up the response to Katrina made me realize that they were not going to be there for me if something bad happened to my family.

And they weren’t.

Who WAS there were people like my neighbor Chad, who ran outside at the height of the storm to clean a blocked drain that was threatening to flood our street.

There was Mike’s Weather Page, which provided hurricane models that were far more accurate that what the NOAA was feeding us.

There was the science teacher in my Sunday School class who worked with the NOAA for years, and told us WAY ahead of time that Irma was something to be concerned about. There were faith-based organizations who were FAR more able and nimble than the .gov was.

There were the meteorologists at the various local TV stations who were present when Wilma went through here and knew how to talk to us hurricane rookies.

Race Bannon Mike Pence showed up in our town and walked around and Ben Nelson shook some hands and Air Force One came and went, but they didn’t have to hunt for gas to fuel their cars and they don’t have to worry if the grocery store will have fresh milk tomorrow. FEMA has promised help, but it will be a while until it arrives, but in the meantime, churches ARE helping, and they’re helping right now.

It wasn’t Antifa who drove down my street at 12AM making sure everything was alright when all the lights were out, and it wasn’t the Republican National Committee either. It was the men and women of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, but I wasn’t counting on them to be there if someone decided to kick in my door during a gap in coverage.

I was, however, counting on the Mossberg 500* in my safe room and the 9mm Shield on my hip.

If and when the .gov does help in the recovery of Hurricane Irma, that’s nice, but to quote Band Of Brothers,  “How do I feel about being rescued by Patton? Well I’d feel pretty peachy, except for one thing, we didn’t ******* need to be rescued by Patton.”

We didn’t need to be rescued by the .gov. We rescued ourselves.


* Yes, I know, I wrote on how I was ditching the scattergun in the safe room in favor of an AR in .300BLK. I’m not going to make the switch, though, until my can gets out of ATF jail.

Building a Better, Quieter Mousetrap.

Maxim 50

Mere words cannot describe the geniusness of this product. It’s like a big, giant middle finger showed in the face to the National Firearms Act.

50-state-legal sound suppression is now a reality thanks to SilencerCo’s integrally-suppressed muzzleloader, the Maxim 50. No fingerprints, no pictures, no $200 tax stamp, no 4473, no wait. Mailed directly to your door. Even in California. Yes, really.

That scrunching noise you hear are knickers twisting en masse inside the offices of gun control groups all across this great land.

The fact that their ad campaign prominently shows the Golden Gate bridge and the Santa Monica pier is just rubbing it in. All that’s missing for Blue State Triple Yahtzee is a shot of someone holding one in Times Square and Michigan Avenue.

So, what’ll be the over/under on how soon Bloomberg and his minions talk about this as a “COMPLETELY SILENT .50 CALIBER LONG RANGE GHOST CLIP SNIPERS RIFLE IMMUNE TO MICROSTAMPING!!!1!!”?

Hint: Take the under.

Further proof that the gun industry treats stupid legislation as damage and routes around it.

You Don’t Need Something Like That. Until You Do.

Tam talks about how much fun it is to go to a tactical carbine course.

I know people who take butt-tons of carbine classes because, face it, running and gunning with an AR or AK, especially on targets in the 7-to-50 yard range, is fun as hell.

Which is not to say that there wasn’t a ton of value in what I spent last week doing, because any time you get a chance to have to think on your feet while armed and move safely around other armed people and make decisions with a gun in your hand is time well-spent. Working tactics in the house is a different animal altogether from doing marksmanship stuff on the square range.

That got me thinking.

I’ve bagged on such courses in the past, and I still think that they should not be a priority for the average citizen who owns guns. If you have never taken a post-CCW pistol class and have no idea how to set a tourniquet, a carbine class shouldn’t be your first choice.

But let’s stop and think for a second. My neighbor across the street from me is a recently retired 82nd Airborne veteran, and another neighbor the next street over is a former LA County Sheriff.

A carbine class, especially a low-light carbine class that would teach me how to act in conjunction with my neighbors who once got paid to shoot people in the face for a living, suddenly seemed to be a very good idea as I was sitting on my front porch during the darkness of a post-Irma curfew on Monday night, as did some sort of body armor and chest rig. I have a IIIA soft plate, so it might not be a bad idea to get another and also something to hold them close to my body.

Nobody needs such things. Until they do. And given that Category 3 hurricanes are not an uncommon event here in SW Florida, it might behove me to learn how to use an AR-15 more better, and use learn how to use it in conjunction with my friends who know how to use them as well.

Lessons From Garland.

Garland Attack

“When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol will be a dead man!”

Ramon Rojo 

“The hell you say.”

Garland Texas Police Officer Greg Stevens 

Stevens immediately drew his Glock 21 pistol and engaged Simpson with four to five rounds as Simpson fired at him and Joiner with the rifle.

As Stevens fired, he slowly advanced on the suspects from 15 yards away, pressing the attack on the pair as he fired “rhythmically,” obtaining a “decent sight picture” for each round. Stevens was conscious of the fact he had to make his hits count, and his deliberation was rewarded with the sight of Simpson falling to the ground and dropping his rifle.

Switching to the next threat, Stevens pivoted to the left and fired at the driver, Nadir Soofi, who also wore soft armor and LBE, and had a backpack and a pistol. As Soofi rounded the back of the car with his rifle raised in the firing position, his left side was exposed to Stevens, who drew careful aim and shot Soofi in the elbow, above the elbow, the side of the chest and the shoulder, as he continued to advance and fire at a controlled pace.

Read the whole thing: It’s an absolutely rivetng after-action report, full of lessons for all of us.

One thing I will note is how “situational awareness” played a part in Officer Stevens’ success. He knew that because of the detail he was on, there was an increased chance of an attack, so he was in a more-alert state than if he was processing paperwork in his patrol car. As such, when a car rolled up with out-of-state plates and blocked an entry to the venue he was watching, he was on high alert, knowing that the potential for trouble was even more greater now. When the balloon eventually did go up, he didn’t hesitate: There was no ramp-up time to combat mode because he had already crossed those bridges way before two guys with AK’s popped out of the car.

There are those who say that situational awareness is of marginal use in a self-defense situation, that when lightning strikes, you should learn how to react quickly, and not worry about what happened beforehand.

I say that lightning only strikes after the thunderclouds have rolled in, and if you’re paying attention, you can see (and hear) those clouds coming in from miles away.

Goodbye, Grant.

Hüsker Dü’s “Zen Arcade” was a watershed moment in my life: It made me realize that there was more to punk than spittle and rage.

And now 1/3 of the band that made that album is gone.

Music will go on, good songs will continue to be written, and a new generation will rebel against the conformist ways of the generation before them, but for a few, brief, shining years, we had a band that could take the mindless anger of punk and shape it into a force that changed lives.

I hear it every day on the radio
Somebody shoots a guy he don’t even know
Airplanes falling out of the sky
A baby is born and another one dies
Highways fill with refugees, now
Doctors finding out about disease
With all this uptight pushing and shoving
Keeps us away from who we’re loving

Irma Gerd

A quick update:

My family and I took a Category 3 hurricane almost head on, maybe even worse than head-on, because the right eyewall went right over us, so we got all the fun winds and stuff for even longer than head-on, with no eye to provide relief.

Bottom line is, though, as Unc says, if you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just another windstorm. We’re all fine,  no damage to home or ourselves, but landline internet is out for the rest of week so updates will be spotty at best.

Thanks for your concern and well-wishes.

Gallows Humor

All full!

Something about facing imminent danger brings out the comedian in us.

You may have heard about the Facebook event to “Shoot Guns at Hurricane Irma,” but did you hear of
Gathering All Hispanic Moms To Help Get Irma In Her Place, “Destroy Hurricane Irma By Cooling The Atlantic With Ice Cubes,” “Talking reasonably to Hurricane Irma to convince her to stop this cycle” and my favorite, “Buy Hurricane Irma flowers and chocolate and tell her she is important“?

As Monty Python once said, always look on the bright side of life.