Annabel on the Rocks– With a Winch

5000 lb winch customer pic

I was 17 when I bought my first 4-wheeler, a ’73 Land Cruiser FJ40. It only had 56K miles on it– all highway– and I taught myself to drive a shift when I drove that beauty home from the seller’s house (killed it at every light). My buddy and I tooled it all over Utah that summer, ’til I finally rolled it at Arches Natl. Park and had to drive it (with a crushed body and intact engine) to a body shop where it rehabilitated for the next month. I loved that ‘Cruiser, and rue the day I got it in my head to sell it. The other thing I regret was never having gotten a winch. We got stuck a few times, and hadn’t it been for the kindness of strangers, we’d still be there.

land cruiser stuck

Now that I’m older and wiser (mostly from getting my fingers burned), I know that a winch is the first thing you want to get your 4-wheeler– long before any of the other off-road bling you’ve got in mind. For a modest investment, it’ll save your bacon from places where other dogs won’t hunt, and pay for itself over and over again.

The first question to address would be, what weight capacity winch should you get? It’s said the rule of thumb is, you take the gross weight of your vehicle, add in the modded bumpers, suspension, tires, etc., and times that number by 1.5. So, for example, if your total weight comes out to be 5,000 lb., the winch should have a (x 1.5 =) 7,500 lb. capacity. If you try to go lower– ’cause, say, a 3,000 lb. winch is on sale– you run the risk of disaster in a ravine. If you go a lot more, like 12,000 lb., you’ll be OK, but it’s kind of overkill– unless, of course, you want to be able to help heavy metal in distress. In that case, my brother, go for it and there will be blessings in store for you in Off-Road Heaven.

Harbor Freight’s Badland winches are legendary pullers– in the dirt, mud, snow, rocks, etc– and are consistently thrown high praise in four-wheeler forums, magazines and customer reviews. I was getting ready to write this article when I came across the story of Annabel, a late-40’s CJ2A that got stuck in the rocks while trying to back down a steep, rocky dugway. The owner, Carl, had taken Annabel up the hill, but then decided he wanted to get it on video, so he backed her back down. He ran into a rock and dirt wall, the driver’s side rear tire went flat, and he was wedged there– he couldn’t go up or down. As luck would have it, he had a Badlands 5,000 lb. winch:

As Carl later posted:

“I am a firm believer in my 5000 lb winch. It has twice pulled me out of a steep sandy bank by it’s self besides this dugway. That’s three hard pulls with the winch doing the pulling for at least the length of the Jeep each time. None of these were easy pulls but once the winch got the Jeep moving it lightened up on the load.”

Badlands off-road electric winches are rugged, dependable and give some of the biggest bangs for the buck. Check out these models:

5000 lb winch

The Annabel Special! We already know how it does with small jeeps, but this lightweight dynamo’s also got plenty of power to assist in ATV recovery, traversing rough terrain or loading a boat. Customers also like it for pulling small trees when clearing an area. Reliable and safe, it comes with a remote switch with a 12 ft. lead, making it easy to use even when you’re alone! Features include a three-stage planetary gear system for fast line speed, aircraft grade wire rope and a permanent magnet motor that draws less current, making it perfect for ATV use. As one customer shared:
“Works great, have used this winch for almost a year now. Installed it on my Yamaha Rhino and use it to pull trees down and once because I got stuck in a swamp. Now I use it to lift and lower my snow plow….for the money I’d highly recommend (it).”  Fletch – Green Bay, WI

“I have a 6000 on my Samuri and was able to pull a full size ford truck out that was sunk to the doors this has been a great investment has never left me high or dry.”  Lil K – UT

The awesome “go-to” choice for pretty much all off-roaders, rock-crawlers, mud-boggers and sand-suckers. Get over and through the tough terrain with this musclebound electric winch. With a 9000 lb. towing capacity and an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is excellent for the 4-wheeling novice and expert alike. A 12-foot lead remote switch makes this winch easy to use even when you’re traveling alone. And the testimonies say it all:

“I honestly believe that my push bars and frame of the truck would rip apart before the winch gave out. LOL. Pulled my 5000-lb truck UP a 40 degree incline, with brakes locked and a bed full of firewood. I say it will do anything I would EVER need it to do… Very happy with my 9000. Now the 12,000-lb winch, and using a double line, is used for what? Bulldozers?”  1997 Silverado 350 Extended Cab – Concord, NC

“Searched a lot of places for a winch before buying this one. I put it on my ’78 Ford F-250 “highboy” with 39-inch boggers. I have pulled out multiple vehicles stuck in the mud, and even a tree from out of the creek that a 3020 John Deere tractor could not. Couldn’t be happier, in fact i just bought a second one.”  TheWiseGuy – Gallipolis, OH

5000 lb winch

When heading out with the buds for an off-road excursion, the wise man will gear up according to the credo, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”  That said, the Badlands 12000-lb. electric winch brings a whole new meaning to, “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” This is the Godzilla of the bunch, the one that can take on most any mishap and chore thrown at it. Rescue a vehicle, haul timber or load a boat with this powerful winch. The series-wound motor stays cool while the 3-stage planetary gear system provides fast line speed. Featuring an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is a must-have for ANY off-road adventure! Just ask the guys who know:

“Installed the night before an off-road trip, got the Jeep stuck going uphill with the engine not able to run and it pulled the Jeep uphill like it wasn’t even there. Fixed a loose wire on the distributor and the Jeep started like the battery had not bothered at all. Easy to install, I did it in less than an hour. Tough, reliable product. I would definitely recommend to a friend and buy again! No need to spend $1200 on a Warn for a weekend warrior toy with this winch around!”  DocMicro – USA

“This winch is amazing… I pulled a car sideways– not forward or backward– but sideways, without my truck running to juice my battery, and it did it without a hiccup. Strong winch and def worth the money… If you’re looking for a winch, this is the one.”  Toyota Mud Dog – The Plains, OH

For the lighter rigs, they also have 2,500 and 3,500 lb. capacity winches. So when you’re ready to put a winch on your 4x– or replace your old one– check out the rough, tough line of affordable Badlands winches at Harbor Freight. No doubt, they’ll make a believer out of you, too.

How Tough is the Storm Cat 900/700 Watt Generator?

What’s the best way to test a product you’re considering to buy? Why, throw it in the deep end, of course (that’s how Dad taught me). Throw everything at it, challenge the HECK out of it– which is exactly what redneckcomputergeak did to the Storm Cat 900 Peak/700 Running Watts, 2-HP (63cc) 2-Cycle Gas Generator (EPA/CARB) from Harbor Freight in a strenuous 16-minute video review. The Storm Cat may be the runt of the Harbor Freight generator litter, but this little dynamo (38 lb.) delivers the robust, reliable power you need when you need it.

900 watt generator testing

Referred to as a “recreational” generator, the Storm Cat is the perfect companion for camping, hunting, tailgating, family reunions, ice fishing, treehouse building, emergency preparedness and countless remote activities where there’s no power’s around. To further illustrate its abilities, though, redneckcomputergeak took it to task “at the job site” with a grinder, impact driver, chop saw (with a 60 hz motor), cement mixer and welder. Now, I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say if you’re in the market for a small portable generator, and you’re reading this now, it’ll be well worth your while to spend a few minutes more and watch the video.

Chances are, seeing what the Storm Cat is capable of– not to mention the low price!– gives you a few ideas on what you could use it for. And if you’re looking for more wattage to power, say, an RV, appliances or multiple large power tools, check out Harbor Freight’s selection of other gas-powered portable generators, all with great quality and prices.

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.

17 Ways to Make a Shelter from a Tarp

camo tarp

Tarps are lightweight and provide a myriad of functions. However, in a survival situation, a tarp could literally mean the difference between life and death.

American Survival Guide recently published an article in their Dec. ’14 issue entitled A Roof of Polypropylene – 17 Ways to Make a Shelter from a Tarp (click on the title to read the article) As the title implies, the article provides 17 illustrated tarp set-ups with easy-to-follow instructions plus “Tarp Tricks” and “What Not to Dos”. If you spend any time hiking, backpacking or on any other activity that may put you in a survival situation, click on the story link above.

And don’t forget  to check out Harbor Freight’s complete selection of tarps available at all of Harbor Freight’s 500+ stores!


A Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse



Surviving an onslaught of zombies doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! In fact, you can keep all your limbs neatly intact with just a few select items from Harbor Freight Tools. From weapons to equipment, Harbor Freight is the one stop shop for all your survival needs, but you can’t carry everything when you’re on the run from the undead! So, this handy guide will run down the most essential tools you need to get to the military outpost/survivor camp/shopping mall stronghold alive.


First things first, you need a weapon.  Getting anywhere will be dangerous at best and suicide at worst. If you want any chance at all, you’ll need to be equipped with a weapon that is lightweight, powerful and doesn’t require reloading. For this situation, the 20 oz. Solid Steel “Antishock” Pro Rip Hammer (Item #: 60517) will serve you best. The oil-resistant comfort grip minimizes muscle fatigue so you can handle a whole group of zombies with ease. And the solid steel rip claw is designed to withstand rigorous use, even if it’s smashing zombies in the noggin. Be careful here because most people might be tempted to go with the 8 oz. Stubby Claw Hammer (Item #: 95929) because of its portability. However, while the Pro Rip Hammer might be a bit heavier, it has the leverage you need to break through the skulls of the undead or to pry open boarded up windows in a hurry. In fact, it couldn’t hurt to pick up two hammers, either as an extra for a partner or one for each hand so you can deal out double the carnage.

Another great choice is the 18″ Machete with Serrated Blade (tem #: 62113). The razor sharp machete also features a nonslip comfort grip and can be easily accessible when stored in the included nylon sheath. This weapon is ideal for hacking through foliage as well as zombie necks. And speaking of hand to hand combat, you can’t go wrong with the 8″ Survival/Hunting Knife (Item #: 90714).  The shorter blade offers more control over the machete which can come in handy in case you need to remove clothing to tourniquet a wound while the built-in compass will keep you and your group on track. You’ll need to keep these blades sharp too so be sure to pick up a Combination Sharpening Stone (Item #: 7345) as well. Dull blades can easily become stuck in a skull or other decomposing body part, leaving you helpless and without a weapon.


Survival is all in the details. In a world where rules and laws no longer have any meaning, you need to be on constant alert for threats both alive and undead. The Ultra Ear Sound Amplifier (Item #:  66577) fits comfortably behind either ear and provides ultra sensitive hearing to prevent anyone (or anything) from sneaking up on your camp. This handy device features tone and volume adjustment so you can keep an ear out in almost any environment. Granted, the amplifier is battery operated, which brings up another good point…

Batteries. You can’t have too many. You never know what type of tool or equipment might require batteries and in a zombie apocalypse, batteries will basically be like currency. Luckily, Harbor Freight carries a wide variety. The 24 Piece AA Alkaline Batteries (Item #: 61271) are good general purpose batteries to have on hand but you’ll want to pick up at least a few packs of the 4 Piece AA NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (Item #: 61269) as well. They’re environmentally friendly (which is still important even in a zombified world) and these batteries can be recharged up to 800 times. Along with the 5 Watt Foldable Solar Panel Charger (Item #: 60449), all you need is direct sunlight to get those batteries back to full capacity. Harbor Freight offers the following size batteries to fit a variety of needs in both alkaline and rechargeable NiMH:

You also need to think about protection from the elements and debris as well as from the vicious undead so be sure to pick up some Cold Weather Work Gloves (Item #: 96606 and 96612). There’s a very good chance you’ll be outdoors at least until you find some shelter and the 40 gram fleece Thinsulate lining on these gloves provides 10 times the warmth of standard fleece. These gloves are perfect for reloading your shotgun quickly in windy, cold or wet conditions. Also grab a pack of 100 Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves (Item #: 68498) for any less pragmatic survivors you may come across. The Nitrile hand gloves offer three times more puncture resistance than latex and vinyl, providing extra protection against sharp metal objects in dilapidated city ruins as well as zombie bites. The last thing you need is an infected person in your group. That won’t end well, trust me.


The bottom line is you can never be too careful when it comes to prepping for the zombie apocalypse. Here are some miscellaneous items that could be life-saving without taking up much space in your pack:

With this handy list of essentials, you’ll have a fighting chance at escaping the zombie horde while protecting your group of survivors… if you’re lucky enough to find any. Whatever you do, don’t get caught unprepared. Get to your nearest Harbor Freight store now to stock up and save a bundle!

Tale of the Tape

Sometimes the simplest tools can be the most effective.  Any do-it-yourselfer knows how essential tough, reliable tape can be and no self-respecting handyman would be caught without it.  Duct tape and electrical tape both are two indispensable items that you can never have enough of.  And, when it comes to high quality expendables, Harbor Freight Tools has everything you need.  Whether it’s traditional duct tape or electrical tape, with these handy items, you’ll be able to handle any sticky situation.

There’s no denying that duct tape is one of the most versatile and useful tools in the world.  If you don’t have a roll somewhere in your toolbox or garage, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in a tight spot at one point or another and wish you did.  For just $4.29, you can pick up a big roll of 2” x 50 Yard Cloth Back Silver Duct Tape (or 4 rolls for $14.99) and be ready for just about anything.  From the more traditional uses like repairing air ducts and handling small household projects to more unique applications like patching a hole in a tarp or fixing broken hoses, duct tape can be a life-saver as well as just unbelievably useful.


“Incredibly strong, durable and very long lasting. I can honestly say it is the best duct tape I have ever used.” – by PRIMETIME from Houston, Tx

“I recently bought a roll of this tape and I am really impressed with its performance. It sticks as good as duct tape costing two times the price.” – by ironduke from Parts Unknown

So what about you electricians out there?  Need to stock up on electrical tape?  Of course you do because this stuff is the cousin of duct tape and just as important to have on hand.  Heavy duty electrical tape not only provides insulation for wiring jobs but also handles other tasks in a pinch.  With a tight grip and the ability to conform to sharp contours, electrical tape is pretty handy as just regular old tape too.  How many rolls of 60’ x 3/4″ Industrial Grade Electrical Tape do you think you could get for $4.99?  How about 10?  Only Harbor Freight sticks by that kind of deal.


“I recently had to cut open some wire looms I’d taped up a few years back to move some harnesses and I noticed how well this stuff held up under the hood, through Michigan winters and salt. It’s about time to buy more so I figured I’d go ahead and review it. I like it!” – by EvilSteve from Warren, MI

You don’t have to be a professional grade contractor or run a repair shop to benefit from duct tape or electrical tape.  These are items that anyone should have readily available, just in case.  Even if they don’t provide a permanent solution, reliable tape can solve lots of problems temporarily and allow you to get some professional help if necessary.  But, if you like to handle things yourself, don’t hesitate to load up on this terrific tape.