I recently reviewed a couple of videos on weapons craft from Panteao Productions and found them quite useful. Panteao recently released its first three videos in a series on survival. The press release says they will have a total of thirteen videos, which are to be released over the next few months, to cover the full range of survival topics, from weapons to medicinal plants.
One of the things that impressed me about the first two videos I watched was the quality of the instructors– Bill Jeans and Freddie Blish. The survival videos use five instructors, all of whom have serious credentials, though one– Dave Canterbury– has some controversy surrounding him. One of the videos is done solely by Canterbury, while the other two I viewed feature all five. I thought I should give a rundown on the instructors before getting to the individual videos.
If anyone is not familiar with Dave Canterbury, they haven’t been watching the Discovery Channel, where he starred for two years on the show– Dual Survivor– with Cody Lundin. It’s a reality show that’s sort of the Odd Couple meets the wild hillbilly versus the New Age guy. My wife and ten-year-old son have enjoyed it quite a bit, but since I’m not much of a TV guy, I have only seen bits and pieces as I wander through the living room on my way from one chore to another. The idea, if I caught it right, was to pit the pragmatic country boy, woodsman survivalist chap against the modern, feel good, with it, environmentalist guy to see who could best survive while titillating the audience. I admit that I am pretty cynical about television, and I probably missed something about the concept. I did, however, on most of my observations, spot some smart survival techniques on the part of both characters.
At any rate, controversy developed over Canterbury’s resume. Apparently, it was inflated, particularly in the military aspects, and he issued some form of apology at some point. It isn’t clear to me if that is why he is no longer with the show, but I suspect it had something to do with it. Lundin is also no longer with the show, for whatever that is worth.
While I am not happy with Canterbury’s resume problems, I am willing to look at his contributions to these videos on the basis of what they offer, and I think he is worth listening to.
Canterbury runs The Pathfinder School LLC and Self Reliance Outfitters school as well as a store. He does tout his products in the video.
Master Sergeant Paul Howe has a fairly brief and simple resume on the Panteao website. From what I know of Howe, it should probably be a lot longer and far more impressive. He served for 10 years in Army Special Operations and has a storied reputation, in part due to the book Black Hawk Down about the raid in Somalia in 1993 that left 18 Americans dead with two of those– Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart– being award the Medal of Honor. The book was later made into a movie. My impression is that Howe’s resume is limited by his own modesty and concern for security. After leaving the Army, he founded the Combat Shooting and Tactics school.
Kyle Harth is another Army Special Operations veteran. He served in Special Forces and infantry with a number of overseas tours, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the Army he has had a number of jobs involving security and training as well as being a reserve SWAT sergeant. He has also been involved as a defense industry representative.
N. E. MacDougald served in Vietnam in military intelligence and gave instruction to Army Special Forces, worked in the Artic, trekked in the Himalayas, and has been a shooter and a writer on survival subjects for numerous publications. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees and has worked in foreign countries.
Jim Cobb is an author and disaster consultant who has written several books on the subject of prepping. He works with major companies in training on issues besides prepping and has also worked in security and volunteered his time helping find missing children. He has websites at http://www.SurvivalWeekly.com and http://www.DisasterPrepConsultants.com.
As a quick overview, these videos introduce prepping as common sense and reasonable, and they focus on scenarios of a few days to a few months in duration. All of the instructors come across as sane and reliable. These videos would be great to show non-preppers, as they demonstrate how to deal with situations most of us could easily encounter in a normal lifetime. I found very useful nuggets of information in every one of them, despite being a somewhat jaded student of the subject since the late 1970’s.
Learning by video is much like going to a seminar instead of being in a class with the instructor who can correct your mistakes and answer questions. While videos have shortcomings, they are extremely useful if you don’t have the opportunity to take a class or have just begun considering a subject. Watching a video, however, does not mean you have acquired a skill. Practice and coaching are what you need for that. Think of a video as something that can give you a good start and help you avoid false turns in your quest for knowledge.
Make Ready to Survive – Building a Survival Kit
This video is a bit more than 1 ¼ hours long and is the only one presented by a single instructor– Dave Canterbury. He focuses on building the kit you need whenever you are outdoors.
Canterbury uses a mnemonic system of 10 C’s to cover what you need to survive if caught outdoors unexpectedly in a short-term survival situation:
- Cutting tool
- Container to carry water, can disinfect in
- Canvas tape
- Cargo needle
- Candling device (headlight)
I think it is a good list, though he does work a bit to make sure each item is a “C” for memory reasons. He argues cogently that everyone should have such a kit anytime they are outdoors. I like how he stresses that each item should have more than one use and that we should carry those things with us that we cannot easily create in the outdoors.
Canterbury goes back in history and shows how much of this gear is timeless and was always used by those in the outdoors, citing as an example the so called Ice Man who was frozen in a glacier in the Alps around 3,300 BC and recently uncovered. Ice man carried many of the same sorts of things Canterbury urges us to have today.
He has another useful mnemonic– FARMED– which stands for:
He goes through a series of chapters on the items, which are sometimes products he sells. They do appear to be very high quality. I won’t go through every part of the video, but I did want to touch on some elements I found interesting or new to me.
One item he stressed is the need for a saw and how it is safer than an axe. If you carry an axe, he prefers you use an axe rather than a hatchet. He argues that the heavier tool is safer and works better.
While on containers, he pushed ones that can be used to boil water, and he showed examples that included nesting cups for compactness. He cleverly showed how you could use the canvas tape to make a water container.
While 550 parachute cord is ubiquitous, Canterbury makes a strong argument in favor of tarred marine bank line . One key reason is that he likes being able to break down a cord into strands for repairs or snares. Parachute cord frays when pulled apart. He recommends a synthetic cord that won’t rot. He also shows how to weave cordage from natural materials, but he advises that it is very time consuming. He showed a useful knot and stressed the importance of knowing how to use your gear.
He breaks down fire-making into three methods– instant, waterproof, and renewable– and feels we should have each available. A lighter or matches can be the instant source, while a ferrocerium rod can be the waterproof method. A magnifier, found on some compasses, can be the renewable fire starter. He also shows how to use a battery and steel wool to start fires. The examples of alternative strikers for ferrocerium rods was welcome, and I completely agree with his comments on how the longer and larger in diameter a rod is, the better it works.
I was intrigued that he seems to prefer a simpler, more traditional sort of pack system rather than some of the more modern, high tech styles. He showed a clever canvas pack with a basket liner that could be removed and used for a secondary container.
I have never carried a canvas needle in any of my kits, but he convinced me I should, as it can facilitate a number of repairs of gear and people as well as being used as a toothpick or magnetized for a compass.
I wasn’t sure what he meant with the “C” for cotton, but he showed how one could carry a cotton scarf to be used for shelter, bandaging, converted to char cloth for fire starting or for any number of other uses.
There is far more to the video, and I found all of it interesting and thought provoking. Key points he reiterated throughout the video were the need to know how to use your gear and to have knowledge of the environment you face. I’m glad I had the chance to watch it, and I took many notes.
Make Ready to Survive – The Essentials of Survival
This one is almost 1 1/2 hours long and actually is the introduction to the series. The Canterbury one is a bit out of the stream of the other two but still highly complementary to them. All five of the instructors contribute to this one in a sort of revolving panel presentation. The subject is short-term survival, for example, after a major storm or other disaster that could last for a week to a few months. Hurricane Katrina could be a good example of this scenario. This would be a good video to show a new prepper, or perhaps someone who isn’t quite convinced yet or is suspicious of prepping.
It starts with a lucid explanation of what prepping is. The instructors argue that prepping is common sense and not weird. Howe talks about going through Katrina and losing food, which fueled his desire to become more self-sufficient. Most SurvivalBlog readers already know much of this, but many others don’t. The presentation could help some catch on without the opprobrium of the “Doomsday Prepper” style shows.
The mindset chapter is well done. MacDougald stresses situational awareness. Howe contributed with a commentary on community and neighbors working together that I really liked. He emphasized the need for common sense, especially as one proceeds with building their preps.
After discussing mindset, the instructors moved into the use of preplanned decision trees to facilitate action in times of trouble with the need to build in options at every branch.
They next move to a discussion of water and how to source it. Harth made a number of suggestions and pointed out that water from the sky is safe, but the moment it touches the ground, we need to worry about treating it, which led him to mechanical and chemical means of purifying water. He discussed ways to use animals to help you find water sources. One interesting point he made is that water with life in it should be able to support you. If the water is void of life, it probably has issues. MacDougald followed with a discussion of giardia– a protozoan parasite that is endemic in most water. Harth then went into a discussion of Cryptosporidium– another parasite– and the filters and chemicals that can protect you. He is a fan of plain old bleach. One thing I didn’t hear mentioned is that bleach has a limited shelf life. Harth also warns of the issues with toxins in the water in industrial areas, which was a big problem during Katrina. He suggests looking for ways to collect rain as a means of extending your water supply.
Canterbury came in with a trick I would not have thought to try– heating water in a plastic bottle over a fire. You have to be very careful as you do it, but it can be done, and if you were caught short of containers, it could be a big help. He points out that all we need to do is Pasteurize water and explains the process, which can be done short of boiling. He also noted the danger from the chemicals in some plastic bottles, but correctly, in my view, explained that absorbing some of them beats dying of thirst.
They didn’t mention Water Pasteurization Indicators that you can get for only $8. I covered them in my reviews of Sun Ovens recently and Sunflair Ovens. One would be nice to add to Canterbury’s trick.
A number of methods of storing water were also shown.
A variety of food was described for prepping, ranging from normal grocery store stock to MRE’s, as well as freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Issues of portability, ease of use, requirements for water in preparation, the need to rotate food, and learning to use it were among the topics explored.
Temporary shelter using store-bought tents or improvised shelters received attention, along with the issue of maintaining body heat.
I particularly liked the discussion on fire starters. Several commercial versions, including some I have reviewed, got favorable attention, but I was most impressed with Cobb’s suggestions for making homemade tinder. I was familiar with the trick of wrapping matches in tissue and soaking them in wax as well as using wads of drier lint pressed into paper egg cartons that get drizzled with wax, but he had more. He suggested using broken crayons, which I had not thought of and had been using paraffin instead. This provides a use for all those ruined crayons our kids create. My son and I made some, and they worked quite well. He also showed a fire starter with drier lint soaked in Vaseline and sealed in a plastic straw that also worked quite well, which was new to me. Canterbury then popped in showing how to make feather sticks with a knife to help get a fire going, which is an excellent tip.
Harth showed off his everyday carry gear, which was pretty typical for many preppers. Cobb likes carrying a small kit tucked into a can about the size of a deck of cards.
Budgeting got attention. Cobb stressed how we can prep at the pace we can sustain and should focus preparing for the first week, then the second, and so on until we have prepped for the amount of time we feel comfortable with. I suspect his approach is similar to what many of us here use.
They next discussed bug out bags, which Cobb called an icon of prepping. Cobb warned us against following someone else’s list rather than determining what we actually need and for what situations we expect it to handle. Harth contributed to this report, and both men suggested thinking in terms of how long we need a bag to sustain us. A short term situation, for example, could consist of getting home from work, while a medium term one could be for a one- or two-week evacuation from home. Long term might mean leaving home for good. We need to consider a number of needs, and they will change depending upon how long the bag needs to carry us and the environment in which we expect to use it. You also need to be familiar with whatever you put in the bag. Harth and Cobb both warn us that the bag is something we will continually tweak as time passes. My conclusion was that we probably need more than one bag, though the short-term one could be a subset of the medium-term one, which in turn is a subset of the long-term one. We might want to have bags in different locations as well.
The final chapter is a discussion by Cobb on the “Lone Wolf syndrome”, which he describes as heading off on your own forever. He warns that very few of us can pull it off and gives many reasons why. He effectively stresses the need for others in a survival situation.
This video is also done with all five instructors and is slightly more than 2 ¼ hours long. It covers some of the same subjects in more depth than the prior video, but it adds a number of other topics. Again, it focuses on short-term situations of weeks or perhaps months.
They start with the necessity of planning, taking into account all of our family needs along with our pets. Cobb tells us that making decisions ahead of time and being able to account for bureaucratic issues, such as releases to get your kids out of school, can make life a lot easier during the crunch.
Budgeting is discussed, both in terms of how many supplies you need and the way to pay for them.
The video next moves to food issues. Harth gives a lot of tips about nutrition and shows a number of foods that can work well. One trick he demonstrated and I plan to try is putting rice in a Ziploc style bag with some water, jerky, and seasoning and then tucking it into your waistband and carrying it all day. He says it will absorb the water and warm up into a pleasant meal.
I really enjoyed the section on off-grid cooking. MacDougald showed several cookers, and Cobb added more along with showing a way to make a cooker with an empty tuna can, some wax, and cardboard. Several of the cookers and boilers Cobb showed were ones I have wanted to investigate, such as Kelly Kettles and CanCookers. The information he provided was very helpful in determining that I probably should get both. They will work well for camping and prepping.
Next up were cutting tools, which started with a discussion by Canterbury on the basic needs for cutting tools. His key point was that tools allow us to make things we need when we are living off the land and that the more tools we have, the more we can do. He showed us the tools he likes to carry. Something I hadn’t thought much about is how useful an awl is.
Howe then showed us a number of axes and machetes and followed with hoppers and both fixed and folding knives.
Harth took the video into first aid and discussed an assortment of useful products, and more importantly he talked about planning, while showing how he organizes his own kit. He feels eye protection is vital in a survival situation. I tend to forget about it, since I wear glasses, but you should remember those in your family who don’t.
Next came vehicle survival kits, which were also explained by Harth. Issues with starting a vehicle, extricating a stuck car, flat tires, fuses, signaling, and the like were well handled along with products to solve problems. One item was the PowerAll battery, which is very compact device that can jump start a car as well as serve as a flashlight and a USB charger. I added it to my wish list. I wasn’t aware that such a small package could start an engine, so this was a good find. The reviews on Amazon are pretty positive, too.
Security came up next with a number of tips about how to stay safe when away from home, at an ATM or at a hotel. MacDougald, Harth, and Howe contributed, and their key point was maintaining awareness at all times.
Backup power in the form of generators and solar power was discussed, though I would have liked more detail. MacDougald showed small solar systems. He explained their limitations in power production but aptly pointed out the advantages of silently providing free power without needing fuel.
Family and group communications were explained by Howe with an emphasis on planning and how to work with your neighborhood and officials. He suggests setting up a command post in your neighborhood, which I think is a great idea.
Cobb then came up with the issue of boredom and said, “Your kids are going to drive you insane.” This is something I suspect might be true most anytime but may especially a problem during a crisis. Cobb came up with a number of suggestions before he moved to the subject of preserving documents with more recommendations.
Each of these videos cost $24.99 in DVD form, and they can be streamed online if you have a Panteao subscription. They streamed well on my fiber optic connection rated at 20 Mbps. I don’t have a way to check it on dialup, but I suspect they won’t work well at those speeds. Sometimes, the site itself seemed busy, but once I started the videos, they played well.
Matters, like food, first aid, and the like cannot be avoided in any discussion of prepping, which led to some repetition between the three videos. They don’t, however, just recycle the same material, and they make a clear effort to build on what was in the other videos. I generally wasn’t as bothered by repetition as I expected to be.
The more you know, the less you will probably get from watching them, but even when I was already very familiar with a topic, I liked seeing how others dealt with it. I enjoyed watching them and learned something from each. I prefer, however, the idea of watching them online by subscription and taking notes rather than buying them. That saves both space on my shelves and a lot of money. Others might want to own them for reference and to have them available without the Internet. You will have to make that call for yourself, but I think a one-month subscription for $20 is an amazing deal. It gets you access to all of their videos on subjects from weapons to medical care. I’ve watched five videos at this point, and they certainly have been worth far more than $20. If, after watching one online, you decide you need a hard copy, you can buy it, which is far better than buying one and learning you do not need it long term.
– SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Erie