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#204189 - 07/02/10 07:17 AM Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage!
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2197
Loc: Great Plains
Last night I was rummaging around some boxes in my basement looking for something when I stumbled upon my "Boat Bucket." Before my last trip with my Dad up to Canada fishing (T&D Amisk Cabins) I put together a bunch of survival gear for the boat. Lake Amisk is pretty large, and the spots we fish tend to be waaaayyyyyyyy out there, sometimes five or six hours from camp at full throttle. Since a good wind can whip the waves up to six or eight feet, a real storm means you're gonna sit things out. So I wanted some gear in case we got stranded, or worse, capsized far from the cabins. My boat bucket is a five gallon pail with a waterproof ratcheting lid (can't recall the brand atm); fully loaded with gear it will still float and could serve as a makeshift life preserver. Most of the stuff is pretty common: matches, lightsticks, knife, Datrex rations and water (probably don't need water- we generally drink untreated lake water the whole week we're there), and Esbit stove & fuel, etc etc.

Well, since the stuff was bought new for the trip and untouched for about four and a half years, I thought it would be informative to see what kind of shape the stuff was in. What good is long term prepping if the stuff doesn't keep? The bucket spend a couple years in a 4-season garage (temps from 100+ down to -35 F) and a couple more in my basement.

First up, the Datrex water & food bars. I had a dozen pouches of water with an expiration date of early next year. Opening one up I found it to have no plastic taste at all, and it seemed as though it had just come from a water cooler! They came thru storage very well.

Next I decided to try the rations. I kept two of the blue 3600 calorie "bricks" in my bucket- that seemed like plenty of energy to satisfy two or three guys for what would probably just be an overnighter. The heat and time had caused the blocks to stick together a lot more than they do when they're "fresh", whatever that means to rations! It took some doing to break them up but the unitized blocks retained their integrity. Within each block, some of the bars "fused" together, the 6 servings merging into a few blocks that were difficult to break apart. But they tasted essentially like they did new, which really isn't all that bad. Despite the claim that they're not thirst provoking, the truth is they're a little dry. But they have enough oil/fat that they're not dusty-dry, and I've always sort of liked the taste. It's kind of a coconut-ish cooky, really not at all unpleasant.

Pulling out a cyulume lightstick I decided to test one out. To be honest I have no idea if they're perishable or if they'd last 100 years. But I flexed the case til it cracked an gave it a good shake, and voila! There was light. I noted the time I cracked it and have it here by my computer desk and I intend to see how long it gives off light.

Lastly, I noticed a 2 AA cell Mini-Mag Light at the bottom of the bucket. I'd actually forgot I put that in there. The batteries were probably not fresh when it went in the bucket over four years ago, but when I twisted the bezel it lit up. Not super bright, and of course with fresh batteries Mag-Lights really aren't all that good. But it did still funtion. Of all the Mags the only ones I ever thought were worth a darn were the little ones and the 2 D cell ones (and I've had almost a dozen different ones over the years).

It was fun to crack them from storage and put them to the test. Soon I'll replace all the gear with fresh stuff, knowing that it should perform if I should someday call upon it.
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“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#204199 - 07/02/10 12:40 PM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Phaedrus]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Great post, Phaedrus. I always like hearing how things did after long-term storage, especially food.

I'm surprised the batteries didn't leak and ruin your flashlight. I've had that happen so many times that I don't put batteries in my electronics until I absolutely need too.

-Blast
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#204214 - 07/02/10 06:26 PM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Blast]
roberttheiii Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 326
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Love it. Good work.

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#204216 - 07/02/10 06:47 PM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Blast]
ajax Offline
Member

Registered: 10/19/09
Posts: 112
Energizer Ultimate Lithiums....15 year shelf life.
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#204231 - 07/03/10 02:42 AM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Phaedrus]
CANOEDOGS Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1838
Loc: MINNESOTA
good thinking,sort of a over sized version of my PFD ditch vest.
a couple suggestions.get a small Gaz stove burner and a couple carts for it.cheap clones of the MSR and Brunton burners can be found on Ebay.that way you would have a "real" stove that would make lots of heat.get rid of the water and get some coffee and coco in there along with oatmeal packs.you should also be able to stuff in a small tarp. that country is all rocks and the trees are little sticks so i would want some sort of shelter.a couple nested camp kettles and you could stay wind bound with some level of comfort...toss in a small can of lard and you could turn survival into a shore lunch!!

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#204234 - 07/03/10 04:36 AM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: CANOEDOGS]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2197
Loc: Great Plains
There actually is quite dense forest where I go (the very northern tip of Sask, 30 miles from Flin Flon). I could readily build a fire, it's pretty woody. But a real stove would be good. When I revamp my kit, though, it will be designed more for the midwest since I don't know when or if I'll make it back up to Canada. My Dad and I always go, and he's getting on in years and is in pretty poor health nowadays. Sadly he may not have another trip in him, and I don't want to go alone.
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“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#204238 - 07/03/10 06:48 AM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Blast]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: Blast
I'm surprised the batteries didn't leak and ruin your flashlight. I've had that happen so many times that I don't put batteries in my electronics until I absolutely need too.

-Blast


Same here, especially with alkalines. Energizer lithiums are great but you have to be careful of a device' parasitic drain and believe it or not they can also leak. Its very rare, but can happen. For longterm storage, store batteries separately. Thanks for sharing Phaedrus.

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#204239 - 07/03/10 09:55 AM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: LED]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2197
Loc: Great Plains
Well, I didn't intend to store the light with batteries! I lost track of the whole package and completely forgot about it. But you're right- I've had some very good flashlights and a couple of remote controls ruined by storing them long term with batteries in them. Nice I guess that this one didn't have problems, but truth be told I consider Mag-Lites junk; it wouldn't have bothered me much. If the light is okay once I change the batteries I'll probably give it away. It's just a crappy product for the weight vs the output.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#204251 - 07/03/10 07:27 PM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Blast]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Thanks for posting, it is nice to have hands-on review on what actually works and for how long.

Originally Posted By: Blast
I'm surprised the batteries didn't leak and ruin your flashlight. I've had that happen so many times that I don't put batteries in my electronics until I absolutely need too.


My understanding is that storing alkaline batteries is a very much lottery thing. 5 years is probably not beyond their expiration date if they were fresh (newly bought and not stored for years and years in a store shelf somewhere). But leaks have occured with fresh batteries and with not so fresh. High humidity may also be a factor.

Also, I think mass production can make huge quantities with more consistent quality than just some years ago. Which may be a factor in that I saw pretty much leaking batteries in ANY old flashlight when I was a kid, but today it's been quite some years since last time I found a leaking battery.

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#204270 - 07/04/10 07:25 AM Re: Tested some gear after 4+ years in storage! [Re: Phaedrus]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
You may not want to give it away. Minimags make great hosts for cheap LED drop-ins from NiteIze, Terralux, etc. It'll make a great, long running emergency light.

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