How To Tailgate the Harbor Freight Way

tailgating 2

Guess which one’s been doing Sea Breezes since 9 AM.

Tailgating is always an excellent idea, but if not well planned, could result in a busted play. The tailgate party is a sacred ritual, much like a holy pilgrimage or pantsing the new kid. And like any ritual that requires serious reflection, one must decide how to best prepare for it (go with the beer shorts, don’t go with the beer shorts?).  But with just a few pre-game adjustments and some new free-agent acquisitions from Harbor Freight Tools, you’ll be drop-kicking this baby to victory! We call this our “PAC 12″:

 1. The Tailgate Tool Bag

tool tote 19-inchAlways keep a tailgate bag in the trunk of your car. This could include a spatula, bottle/can opener, tongs, toothpicks, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, ziplocks, pimento olives, drink umbrellas, condiments, etc. Harbor Freight’s got a wide variety of tool bags, so you’re sure to find the one that’ll make you the Batman of the party. Pictured above is the 19″ Tool Tote with 13 outer pockets as well as generous inner storage. This baby’s rugged and you can pack it to the gills with confidence. rollaway tool bagOr, if total mobility’s how you roll, the Voyager 20″ Rolling Tool Bag is your ride. Two wheels and an extendable handle make this rollaway tool bag extremely easy to transport your tailgating supplies without strain or heavy lifting. This super-duty nylon bag’s got pockets inside and out for organizing all the shtuff and taking this party into overtime.

 2. Megaphone– with Siren!

megaphone with siren‘Cause you gotta make your team pride heard! This 50-watt noisemaker will carry over 2,000 ft– great for taunting opposing fans, alerting the crowd to bad cocktail weenies, or getting the attention of that blue-painted hottie with the foam finger. And you and your friends will have even MORE fun with your Western Safety Megaphone as the beer cooler gets low. We will, oh yes, we will, rock you.

 3.  Gimme Shelter – Popup Canopy

popup canopyStay chill from the sun or rain under this sturdy, 10 x 10 Popup Canopy from Harbor Freight. Easy enough for one man to put up, and it comes with a wheeled storage bag for smoooth, effortless transport. We’ve got you covered, bro.

 4. Turn Up the Heat! – Dual Burner Propane Stove

two burner propane stoveYou’ll be the quarterback of quality cuisine  with this rugged, portable Two-Burner Propane Stove. Cook up the brats and keep the nacho cheese hot whilst regaling your friends with buddy banter and gut-busting zingers. This little guy will go up to 11 with its whopping 15,000 BTUs, and features fully-adjustable brass burners to deliver just the right amount of heat when you need it. At a comfortable $39.99, this’ll keep the party fired up!

tailgating 3

Of course we’re just models!

5. Dutch Oven

dutch oven tailgateThe Dutch Oven is the offensive lineman of outdoor cooking. I have no idea what that means, but when it comes to stews to s’mores to 3-alarm nacho dip, the Dutch Oven will tackle just about anything you stick in it. Its secret weapon is its ability to evenly distribute heat, allowing you to cover it with charcoal briquettes, position it in the hot coals near an open fire, or place it on the stove top. Harbor Freight’s 6-quart, cast-iron beauty really needs no introduction, but at a fraction of what the competitors’ cost, it demands the attention of any frugal tailgater. Big enough to feed a crowd and heavy-duty enough to take anywhere, HFT’s Dutch Oven cooks, bakes, fries… and stays hot for a long time with its snug-fitted lid. Just nestle that baby in the glowing coals and prepare to be dazzled.

 6. Magnetic Paper Towel Holder

magnetic paper towel holderIt ain’t a party if you’re not making an epic mess. At the same token, you ain’t no party god if you don’t have something to wipe it up. Presenting one of the neatest inventions since the MacGyver paper clip– the Magnetic Paper Towel Holder! Just stick this modern marvel onto something metal and you’re locked and loaded for any muffed meatball. This one’s a no-brainer, folks.

 7. Sports Chair

foldable sports chairThere are chairs and then there are CHAIRS… and Harbor Freight’s Foldable Aluminum Sports Chair is the latter. A cocktail of convenience and comfort, this sports chair features a strong, lightweight aluminum frame (weight capacity 250 lbs) with an extra-wide seat for… how to put this delicately…. ample coziness. Features include three side pockets for stuff like air horns, cell phones, pong balls… a bottle holder and a folding side table for the grub and libations. At a relaxing price, you’ll be sitting pretty with budget for the more important things, like a cornhole game and bail money.

 8. 5-in-1 Power Pack

5-in-1 power packThis bad boy makes so much sense, I can’t believe I’m taking up space pitching it. The Cen-Tech 5-in-1 Portable Power Pack is equipped with jump start cables, an air compressor (up to 300 psi), two AC plugs with up to 20 hours of charge, a USB port, two cigarette lighter ports and emergency lights– all wrapped up in a tough, rubberized case. So, the blender, the crock pot, the sound system, the iPod, the dead car, the flat tire… all covered with one sweet scoop n’ score! You’re welcome.

tailgating 4

Hi, Mom, it’s Travis! Send money!

 9. Trunk Organizer

trunk organizerFace it, pal. If you’re heading for a tailgate party, you’ve got junk in the trunk. Well, Harbor Freight has just the thing for you to keep it together– the fabulous, “5-star-rated” Trunk Organizer! Comes with both large compartments and side pockets to hold your barbecue tools, groceries, paperware and body paint, all in one safe place while you drive. It’s got non-slip pads that prevent shifting while on the road, and folds up neatly when not in use. Grab it for $11.99. Grab two.

10. Hamburger Press

hamburger pressUniform means more than just wearing the team colors, it means serving consistently perfect burgers to the buds. With this kickass aluminum Hamburger Press from Harbor Freight you’ll be drop-kicking a pile of perfect patties in no time! And for the particularly rabid carnivores, there’s a depth adjuster that lets you make them up to 1/2” thick!  Best of all, with pre-made meat pucks you can go right from the freezer to the cooler to the grill without thawing. Boo-yah!

11. Folding Trash Bag Stand

trash bag standOK, here’s the deal… you can’t do a tailgate without talking trash. This is one of the handiest gadgets for the tailgate, campground, beach party, family reunion or any other occasions of civil unrest. The Folding Trash Bag Stand makes it easy to keep the garbage out of the way and in the bag. Its heavy-duty metal stand has a weatherproof enamel finish and folds flat when you’re done with it.

12. Generator

700-900 watt storm cat generatorYou didn’t actually think we’d do a “must-have” countdown without any mention of a generator, did you? It’s practically a tailgater’s mascot! Here’s the one we like, the perfect size and power for your garden variety tailgate soiree: The 700-watt, 2 HP Storm Cat Recreational Generator. Its 63 CC air-cooled gas engine will deliver up to 5 hours of run-time (at 50% capacity), plenty to run a nice-sized TV, some fans, a microwave, laptop or sound system. A tried-and-true favorite among tailgaters, campers and RVers, the Storm Cat keeps the bash bashing.

Tailgate Like a Boss

Here are some basic rules to make your tailgate successful:

  1. Enough food and libation for friends and wander-in strangers. Getting friends to chip in is ideal
    1. Paper and plasticware
    2. Meat
    3. Starch
    4. Cheesy stuff
    5. Sweet
  2. Keep it friendly. Be a good guest/host. Be helpful. If a guest, bring something extra, like hooch.
  3. First aid kit: Tums, Tylenol, Band-Aids, hand-sanitizer, alcohol wipes (no, the beer doesn’t do it), sunblock, aloe
  4. Extras: Extra cooler with at least one bag of ice, bottled water, non-alkie beverages, bottle opener, scissors, pocket knife, cork screw, wet wipes
  5. K.I.S.S.: Simple grub, simple recipes, simple set-ups.
  6. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting messed.
  7. Stay in touch. Make sure you come with a fully charged cell phone.

So, at the end of the day, if you’re thinking tailgate, think Harbor Freight Tools! While you’re there, pick up low-priced extension cords, tarps, first aid kit, bug zappers, ceramic knives, rope, flashlights and more! More than just a great tool store, we’re also your tailgate party source!  tailgating 1

Harness AC Power on the Go!

Whether you’re making a quick pit-stop or find yourself stuck on the side of the road, you can always use a reliable Power Inverter for running electronics from your vehicle. The 2000 Watt Continuous/4000 Watt Peak Power Inverter (Item #: 69662) from Harbor Freight is an ideal inverter unit that enables you to run a wide range of useful devices and tools!  From powering up your phone or laptop to running small power tools, this handy unit gives you portable AC power when and where you need it.


Make camping trips more fun and rest stops less annoying by simply keeping one of these little power inverters in your vehicle. The inverter not only features a high surge capacity for products that require up to 4000 watts to start, but also a modified sine wave for up to 87% efficiency during operation. With protection from low/high voltage, high temperatures, and high currents, this Power Inverter is both safe and easy to use with a wide variety of items!

“Easy to hook up, simple to use, provides a solution to a home off the grid using solar power. Gives 110 volt AC power for those things that are not 12 volt DC.” – by Bob from Arizona

“Works well.” – by joej from Missouri

Okay, Bob and joej are men of few words. Let’s hear from Motorcycle Dave:

“I bought this inverter to replace a failed 2000 watt unit. The new model, Cen-Tech 2000 watt, runs everything exactly the same as the old one. One feature that is nice, the cooling fans only come on when there is enough load on the unit to cause it to heat up a bit. It has a USB port built in for charging phones, etc. When running the power adapter for our computer, inverter fans never come on as power draw is so low. I leave it on all night with the coffee maker programmed to start in the morning, have not had a problem with power consumption at idle, seems to be extremely low. It also has a third outlet, which is nice. If this unit holds up as well as the last one, I will be thrilled.” – by Motorcycle Dave from Idaho

Now that’s a review! If you’ve considered picking up a Power Inverter for your car or truck or just as a spare for general use, the 2000 Watt Continuous/4000 Watt Peak Power Inverter is just what you need! Get down to your local Harbor Freight store and pick yours up today.

How To Build a Teardrop Trailer

teardrop trailer complete

In the March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft an article ran– along with detailed plans– for a new, cool oddity called the “Honeymoon House Trailer.”

It was built in the late 30’s by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California, a guy who literally saved his dimes for the little traveler so as to take his new bride on their wedding trip. The 8’x4’ floor plan had tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis, a Chevy front axle with 28” wheels and 1926 rear fenders.  The mini trailer slept two and had a raise-up deck lid for a rear kitchenette, complete with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosure outside the starboard entry served as the “dressing room.” The whole project set him back about $60 ($1,026 today). This may or may not have been the very first teardrop trailer, but it was certainly in the ballpark.

DIYers went crazy. They followed Rogers’ plans and soon added touches of their own. After World War II, subsequent models morphed even more, sporting Jeep wheels and exterior skins made from bomber wings. After the 50’s, though, their popularity waned as big RVs appeared. Then, once again, the teardrops returned with a vengeance. Today you can find a number of websites for plans (some free!), photo galleries, forums and clubs. Teardroppers believe that creating, renovating and modifying unique, personalized models are what give the little campers their timelessness—and the most rewarding way to own a teardrop!

vw teardrop

The coolest part of all this is, you don’t have to be a master builder to make your own drop-dead gorgeous teardrop trailer. If you’ve got just a basic knowledge of woodworking and some tools, you’re already ahead of the game.

First thing, how to go about it? On a recent Google hunt, I found this most EXCELLENT “HOW-TO” tutorial on building a teardrop trailer on with extremely detailed steps, TONS of pics (man, you gotta have pics!) and a comfortable daily planner. Building it on a Haul-Master 1720 lb-Capacity. 4’x8′ Super Duty Trailer

HF super duty trailer…the author created this beautiful camping capsule, complete with aluminum siding, wiring and lights, vent fan, sink-&-stove kitchen area, windows on the sides and front, and a roomy bed with a second kid-sized bunk, all for under two grand!

teardrop beds

Necessary Tools:

teardrop camping

While it’s not exactly a 2-weekend project, the finished product will leave you buzzed with such sublime satisfaction, and give you years of fun and memories that you just can’t buy.

Of course, most of the tools necessary to make this dream a reality can be found at Harbor Freight Tools. Make sure you check the ads for specials and coupons for even greater savings!

A Machete That’s a Cut Above the Rest

Whether you’re clearing brush in your backyard or slashing through foliage during a camping trip, the best solution for getting through thick vegetation is the 18” Machete with Serrated Blade (Item #: 69910)! The sharp blade slices leaves and vines while the saw tooth back is perfect for hacking through thicker branches. Made of tough stainless steel, the blade is designed for longevity, allowing it to accompany you on many future excursions. And when it’s not in use, the machete is conveniently stored in an included protective sheath until you’re ready to wield it again.


Here are some trail-blazing reviews from real satisfied customers:

“Well made machete, and I have spent many years in the jungles of Central and South America. Nice rubber type handle. Sharp blade and good saw blades on the rear of the blade. Good for jobs too small for an axe or yard pruning (branches, grass, bushes, etc.) Downside would be the sheath which I don’t expect it to last long without extreme care. The saw blades catch on the sheath when pulling the machete out. But the money was put into the machete – and that’s what is important!” – by Brazil Bill from Monument Valley, Utah

“Heavy duty blade with a rubberized handle to reduce shock to your wrist. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of use from this.” – by Mike from West Virginia

“Wow…this is one of the best I have ever bought. Really like the blade and super-good grip on the handle. Sheath worked well also. Liked the one that I bought so much that we just ordered four more.” – by jagsouthern from Mobile, Alabama

Lightweight and affordable, this machete is an indispensable element of any outdoor exploration or camping outing. With its lightweight design and comfort-grip handle, this easy-to-use tool separates the beginners from the serious outdoorsmen. So get down to your local Harbor Freight store today and pick up the 18” Machete with Serrated Blade today!

How To Prep, Run & Maintain Your Portable Generator

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. That’s great, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps in the process of prepping, running and maintaining your gas generator that you should be aware of before you do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get smooth, safe operation, and the power that you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this article, it’s NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod which is at least 24 inches in the earth. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A premium feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, which makes for fast, effortless starts. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Now it’s time to add the fluids. A key to long engine life is oil. Also, without oil the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let your generator run briefly before you plug anything in it, and make sure when you do plug, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to spare. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew called in to restore power to your neighborhood.
  • Only use  the proper power cord. The power supplied by your portable gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator, or even one with a still-hot engine. The heat could ignite the gasoline. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If your neighborhood’s power went out, chances are the local gas stations are also in the dark. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours, and your neighbors will love the break, too.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least a 1/2 hour. This will prevent blockage in the carburetor.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast

mountain man breakfast

Every year we go beach camping up and down the California coast with 10-12 other families, and every year our meal assignment has been the Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast. Like Coke and Mentos, and the midnight grunion runs, the Mountain Man Breakfast has become a demanded tradition of us and ours. It’s got all the favorite breakfast foods in one dish: sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns. Not only is it the most delicious, wonderful mess you’ll ever shovel in your mug, it sends torturous wafts of incredible aroma throughout the campground, causing many a family to look down miserably at their breakfast bars and weep.

So, without further ado, here’s our recipe for the quintessential Dutch Oven Mountain Man breakfast (makes 6-12 servings):


  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (mild, medium or hot, it’s up to you)
  • 1 pound bacon (honey cured is sometimes preferred)
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (2-pound) bag of shredded hash browns
  • 12 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-oz. bag shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Add any other spices you might like: salt pepper, butt rub…

dutch oven


  1. You’ll want to get a campfire going about 90 minutes before you’re ready to eat. Let it burn until it’s accumulated a nice layer of coals.
  2. Add and stir the sausage, bacon, onion and garlic into a 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven with a lid, with the oven beside–but not directly in– the coals, so you have a nice medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the sausage and bacon are no longer raw and the onion is tender.
  3. Stir in the red and green bell peppers and hash browns until nicely blended. Keep stirring for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are hot and the peppers are now tender.
  4. Add the beaten eggs evenly over the top of the potatoes, allowing them to sink into the mix, then cover the Dutch oven.
  5. Carefully place  8-10 hot coals under the Dutch oven and 13-15 on top. Allow your concoction to bake around 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are firm.
  6. Carefully remove the lid, keeping the coals on, and sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the eggs. Cover and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. The cheese should be melted at this point.

Adjust this recipe according to your crowd, of course. There’s nothing wring with having leftovers, though, this chow makes for GREAT leftovers!!


As any Dutch Oven enthusiast can tell you, there are some “Do NOTs” when is comes to cleaning a Dutch Oven:

  • Do NOT use dish soap or detergent (it can leave a soapy taste in the oven that may transfer to the food).
  • Do NOT use a metal scrapper or scouring pad (it can remove the “hard-earned” seasoning).
  • Do NOT put cold water on a hot Dutch Oven (it can cause the oven to crack).
  • Do NOT “burn out” your Dutch Oven over the fire. (It can warp or crack the oven).

If it’s not convenient to clean the Dutch oven right away, you can pour some hot water in it and let it soak. For BEST RESULTS, though, follow these steps:

  1. With a plastic scraper, scrape out the excess food.
  2. With a little hot water and a dish cloth, wipe up the residual gunk and finish cleaning it out. Then dump out the dirty water and rinse the pan with warm water.
  3. Dry the dutch oven thoroughly with a paper towel, or leave it in close enough proximity to the campfire to dry itself.
  4. When dry, take a clean paper towel and wipe a thin coat of oil all over the Dutch oven, careful to remove any excess so it doesn’t leave a rancid puddle.
  5. Finally, fold another clean paper towel and put it  under the lid and hanging slightly out the side  to absorb any excess oil and moisture and to allow some air into the oven.

Before you even go camping, though, the best thing you could do is season your 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven  to get long-lasting, top notch performance out of it. You can read about how to season this and your other cast iron pans HERE. Also, you can pick up a Dutch oven at Harbor Freight Tools for a great, low price!

Be sure to check out other recipes you can make in your Dutch oven, like stews, chili, desserts and so much other delicious grub. It may not be pretty sometimes, but it always eats good.


How To Use a Magnesium Fire Starter To Make a Campfire


Here’s some good info everyone should have at their disposal, whether it be for camping or emergency situations. In fact, it’s so stinking easy, you’ll wonder why you never picked it up before.  That strange, cheap little hunk of magnesium and flint steel will save your bacon and pay for itself several times over in just one dire situation.

What’s magnesium, anyway? Magnesium is the seventh most common element in the earth’s crust. During WWII it was used to make fire bombs employed in European missions. It was also a main ingredient for flash powder in early photography. Today, magnesium is still used in fireworks and pyrotechnics. And, of course, fire starters.

magnesium firestarter

Here’s how to use your magnesium fire starter to make a fire:

  • Find an area where you can have a fire, hopefully a spot protected from any present elements like high wind and rain. Clear the area of dry grass, twigs, etc.
  • Gather up the tinder. If you’re a “Be Prepared” type of person, the best tinder would be a ziplock full of petroleum jelly-saturated cotton balls. But, if you just happend to have left those at home, dry moss, pine cones, dry pine needles, tiny twigs, dry grass and thin shreds of wood all make great tinder. Leaves can work too if they’re really dry. Even newspaper, or a paper napkin. Make sure the fuel is as dry and dead as possible.  If the leaf litter is wet from rain or dew, carefully lift the top layers to see if the lower layers are still dry — or check under thick foliage, which may have protected tinder from rain. You may also be able to find dry moss, pine needles or tiny twigs in these protected areas. Hollow logs are good, too. Or, if you’re not having much luck doing that, put the least damp tinder in your pocket for a while and let the heat dry it out. If you see any larger sticks or wood that looks useable, grab that aw well so it’ll be ready when needed.


  • Build your structure. The three go-to designs for a campfire are Teepee, Log Cabin and Lean-to (or variations of any of the three). For the sake this tutorial, we’ll be using the teepee build. Construct a teepee of twigs and small branches (like the picture below on the left), evenly distributing so it can bear additional wood after the fire takes.

campfire builds

  • Prepare the tinder. Once your structure is built, make a bundle out of your tinder that will catch the sparks from the fire starter. Place it as close to the structure as possible without going all the way in– in the “doorway” is best. On top of the tinder bundle, place a dry leaf or an old receipt to contain the magnesium shavings. In the best of worlds, you’d have some duct tape handy to keep the shavings from blowing away, but the structure and “container” (leaf or receipt) should do the trick.
  • Keep a bucket or other container of water nearby in case, for any reason, you need to put the fire out.

campfire magnesium shavings

  • Hold the magnesium block down, pointed at the tinder bundle. Then with the other hand, hold the serrated metal blade that came with your HF Magnesium Fire Starter at a slight (45º) angle against the block and shave tiny flakes downward onto the bundle. If the fire starter you have didn’t come with a blade, use the backside of a knife. Smaller shavings and pieces work best. Keep going at it until you have a pile of magnesium shavings on your tinder bundle about the size of a quarter.

campfire ignite magnesium

  • Using your serrated blade or backside of a knife, strike a spark to ignite the magnesium on the tinder bundle. But instead of sliding the blade down the flint toward the tinder, hold the blade stationary, down with the tinder bundle, and slide the flint up toward you. This keeps the spark close to the tinder. Keep scraping until a spark lands on the magnesium shaving and ignites it.
  • When a spark catches the magnesium, the shavings will burn bright, hot and fast. The generated heat will then spread to the tinder, catching it on fire as well. This is a crucial moment. You may have to urge the young flame on by very gently blowing on it and giving it additional oxygen. You may also need to adjust it a little here and there it to allow the young fire to spread.

campfire tinder goes in

  • As the tinder fire grows, you’ll need to carefully slide it– in tact–  into the campfire structure. You might want to use a couple of sticks to push the bundle under if it’s too hot to handle. Then, as you prepare for the next phase, maybe feed it some more leaves and grass to keep it stoked.
  • Another crucial moment. Fire needs a proper blend of oxygen, fuel and heat. As your structure starts catching on fire, blow on it and feed it by gradually adding slightly larger and larger twigs and sticks. Don’t get carried away, give it time. If you drop a log on it too soon, you’ll be back to square one, rummaging for dead grass. Don’t be that guy.

campfire successful

  • And while you want to be patient, you also want to keep feeding. Find larger sticks and logs to keep the fire growing and happy for the endurance you need to stay warm, dry and protected.

Practice Using The Magnesium Fire Starter

I’ve already said it before, but I’ll say it again: be prepared. It’s not enough to have your magnesium fire starter, you should be ready in an instant to know how to use it. Whether you’re stranded in the cold and wt woods or the arid, desert wilderness, knowing how to make a fire in a SHTF situation will give you life, comfort and security. So practice at home– when the need isn’t there– until you’ve got it down cold (or hot).

And, one last thing. You might want to rethink taking that baggie of petroleum jelly cotton balls.


How to Season Your Cast Iron Pans

cast iron fry pans

For camping and emergency gear, you can never have too many cast iron pans. Some of them come preseasoned, but factory finishes eventually strip. Whether you buy the pans unseasoned or preseasoned, it’s good to know how to season your cast iron pans so they can remain non-stick, easy to clean and stored for long periods of time without threat of rusting. A well-seasoned pan can give you a lifetime of faithful service.

Before you start, if your pan is used, scrub any rust and gunk out of it with fine steel wool. If that doesn’t work, stick it in your self-cleaning oven for the shortest time period and wipe clean. If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, spray it with oven cleaner, stick it in a plastic bag overnight and wipe clean the next day.

The process of seasoning is pretty simple. First, spread oil or fat on the inside of your pans, not a lot, with a paper towel. There’s some debate as to what kind of coating to put on, particularly when you factor in the non-meat eaters who lobby for vegetable oil.  What we have found, however, is that animal fat does the best job. So you could fry up a big batch of bacon (ooohhh, yeah…) and then leave the grease in there to harden and then spread around. Or, you could just grab some lard.

cast iron pan lard

Set your oven for 450° and spread a sheet of aluminum foil on the lower shelf. Set the greased pan on the upper shelf upside-down, so the foil can catch the excess drips. It would probably be a good idea at this point to open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan, ’cause the place is gonna get smoky  real soon. Bake the pan for 2 hours.

When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the pan in there, leaving the oven door open a crack. The cast iron pan needs to cool slowly; a sudden change from hot to cool temperature might cause it to crack.

cast iron pans seasoned

The end result should be a nice, even, black finish. You may have to do it a few times in a row to get the desired result.

DO NOT WASH! When the pan has cooled enough to handle, take it out and wipe it down with a kitchen “J-cloth” or sturdy paper towel, making sure it’s dry to prevent rusting. And for future cleaning, don’t scrub it too hard or you’ll ruin the finish– and don’t use soap or detergent! Just hot water and a plastic scrub brush should do the trick.

And that’s it! Over time you’ll want to repeat the seasoning process to keep your pans in prime shape, and you’ll find they cook more evenly and last longer than the other pots and pans.

Harbor Freight has an extremely affordable, quality 3-piece set of Cast Iron Frying Pans #44707, ready to go along on your family trips and excursions! They also have a nice 12″ Cast Iron Dutch Oven #44705 for your camping trip Mountain Man breakfasts, stews and cherry cobblers!

dutch oven tailgate

This Ain’t Your Great-Granddaddy’s Ditty Bag

There are two things that you don’t need in the Navy: a wife and a car. If the Navy thought you needed them they would have put them in your Ditty Bag.” – Co. Commander Gunners Mate First Class DeLapp

ditty bag being carried

According to a 1912 issue of Field & Stream, the purpose of the ditty-bag can be summed up as follows:

In camp and when cruising about the woods, there are certain essentials, and many other small articles of constant use which one should always have handy. They aggregate about two pounds weight and if disposed about one’s clothing will not only make these garments heavy and uncomfortable but will fill them with knubly protuberances which make sitting down or lying down a matter of much struggle and remonstrance. Wherefore the ditty-bag…has the inestimable advantage of being the place for everything small and loseable– it’s there, nowhere else, and all you have to do is to go and ferret it out instead of having to do the same thing through eighteen or nineteen pockets.”

boston ship

 The original ditty bags were used by sailors in the early 18th century. They were issued canvas bags in which to store their spare clothes. A smaller pouch was sequestered in the sack which was for holding all the “implements of his housewifery”: a sewing kit (which also included supplies to repair hats and shoes), letters from home, trinkets and sundry relics from their journeys. These seafaring men were expected to make their own clothes, so the sewing kit meant more than just a way to restore a button.  The origin of the term, “ditty” has been obscured by time, though. It might have come from a cotton cloth known as ditti or a fabric called dutty which was used to make sails.

ditty bag

As for us 21st century landlubbers, we’ve got a slightly modified list of necessities for our travels. And Harbor Freight Tools carries a lot of items ideal for the ditty-minded dude in all of us.


Of course there are other things you’ll want to include in your Ditty Bag that Harbor Freight doesn’t carry, such as food (dry nut mix works), water, water purifying pills, change of clothes, small first aid kit, fishing sinker and repellant. And you might want to deviate a bit from our checklist depending on what journey you have in store, but not much. All these items listed are valuable when out in the nowhere. Also, please let someone know where you’re going when you set out for your trek. Like an uncle with dementia or something.

Finally, a word about the Ditty Bag itself. There are a few types out there, some in cloth, some nylon, some in leather and some in canvas. We prefer canvas, preferably waxed or otherwise weather-treated, the kind that slings over your shoulder like you’re in an Old Spice commercial. Your first stop should be your local Army Navy stores. Their gear is pretty rugged and ready to get dirty. Or, if you strike out and happen to have a chunk of change you can part with, the Best Made Co. in NY has formidable-looking a “Best Made Ditty Bag” available for a mere $124.

Harbor Freight Moving Blankets Have You Covered

Moving is tough.  And not just because you’ve got to change your address, forward your mail, find new local restaurants and get your internet hooked back up.  You’ve also got to get your furniture safely moved without damaging or scratching any of it. Some may consider this a nearly impossible task, but at Harbor Freight, we’ve got you covered.

When securing furniture (or anything you’re transporting for that matter) mover’s blankets are crucial.  And at Harbor Freight Tools, we’ve got a few different types to choose from which can be useful for a variety of jobs and tasks.  But if you’re looking to cover a large area (or large item), then you’ll want to grab the economy sized 72” x 80” Moving Blanket (Item #: 66537).


First of all, while these blankets are often called mover’s blankets or furniture pads, the usefulness of these items extends far beyond just moving furniture.  Obviously, the main use for mover’s blankets is protecting your furniture or other items when using ratchet straps, tie downs or winch straps.  The pads keep your cargo from being broken or scratched during transport and they also give you some peace of mind when you’re driving that U-Haul and trying to make it through traffic with no rear-view mirror.  Plus, unlike paper pads, mover’s blankets won’t tear during transport and can be used again and again.

“This product went on sale just when I needed to insulate “Fidos” house, keeping him warm. He has to be called to come out of there now! These blankets also work wonders for tent camping flooring, or extra protection in case you vehicle is stalled along the road in winter. Can also be used to get a grip on icy spots from spinning, in place of sand, to get going again. Very durable, with multiple uses. Folds up and packs away nicely in trunk. I have at least 6 or more ready always. No complaints.” – by Daddycat from Memphis, TN

“I spent my college summers working for a local mover and learned about all the tools of the trade. My wife and I recently bought a new dining room table including two leafs. The table leafs didn’t come with any protective covering when not in use. I recalled my moving days and the nice thick pads we used to protect customer’s furniture. Harbor Freight had exactly what I needed. Upon arrival I was not disappointed. Worked perfectly.” – by TotallySatisfied from Pittsburgh, PA

Even if you aren’t in the process of moving, these mover’s blankets still have a multitude of uses around the home and garage that will make them well worth the money.  These big blankets are made of a cotton/poly blend with reinforced stitching to maintain strength and longevity for repeated use, which make them ideal for lying comfortably on the garage floor or driveway when working under your vehicle.  Even if you only use these blankets just as regular old blankets for spreading out and having a picnic in the park or laying out in the sun, they still hold up to repeated use and wear and tear!  So whether you’re moving, about to move or have no intentions of moving anytime soon, these blankets are still versatile items to keep handy!