Monday, December 29, 2014

My KA-BAR giveaway!!!

Since KA-BAR has been on a giveaway frenzy, I figured I would have a giveaway of my own.  I have been lucky enough to have worked with KA-BAR in the past, be a loyal user of their products and I want to share the KA-BAR love with you.

Up for giveaway is a KA-BAR full size black serrated, with nylon sheath.  (

And to sweeten the pot a bit more, I am throwing in a KA-BAR Barley ( a pack of KA-BAR playing cards (  After a long day in the field, opening up a cold brew and playing a game of spades around camp is well deserved.

Sorry, I deleted the images accidentally.

So how do you enter to win, you ask?  Well, all you have to do is pick a number between 1 and 50,000.  I will use to pick the winning number, and who ever gets the closest, without going over, will win.  In the event of a tie, who ever picked the number first is the tie breaker.  All your guesses will be recorded and timestamped.  Also, only one entry per person.  

This is only open to US residents due to shipping and customs.  Sorry my international friends.  I will contact the winner sometime January 1-ish.

Lastly, this is my giveaway, and not an official KA-BAR sanctioned activity.  My decision is final in determining the winner.

Best of luck!  


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Don't advertise to burglars this Christmas season

Just a quick reminder so you can continue to enjoy this holiday season.

So you have just finished enjoying Christmas with your family and you come home to find out that you have been burglarized.   Did you happen to advertise to the world, what you have in your home?

When trash day comes around sometime between December 25 and January 1, be sure to break down your boxes, turn them inside out or dispose of them in a manner where any passerby cannot see what you have obtained this Christmas.  Just think; placing your new computer, iPad, TV or Remington 870 box by the street for trash pickup, you are effectively telling anyone, that these items are in your home.  It is even good practice to do this year round.

A lot of people tend to go out on December 31 to enjoy bringing in the New Year, and therefore are not home until sometime after midnight.  This is primetime for you to possibly get broken into, and the thieves already know what they are looking for.

Remember, criminals look for easy opportunity.  Do not make it any easier for them.

Have a safe holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When it comes to surviving, there is no cheating.

The other day, someone approached me about helping them select a new knife.   I go through my general interview process; what are they going to use it for, how often are they going to carry it, do you know how to sharpen a knife, what is your budget, etc... . 

Make no mistake about it... I am a knife guy.  There is something about one of man's most basic and simple tools, that allows us to do so many things.  Whether a blade is attached to a plane to shave wood, attached to a metal lathe to produce some unique and complex item via a CNC machine, or just in your pocket for when you want to dig out some vienna sausages from the can while enjoying a break in your fishing trip; pieces of metal sharpened down to an apex are all around us in our day to day lives.  As I posted in an earlier blog post I am looking for a new knife. And probably always will be, just by just having a knife makes us uniquely human to being with.

As we were going through some options, this individual wanted a sheath so they could carry a firesteel (or ferro rod, misch metal rod) with them attached to their knife.  I asked them why do you want to do that, when you could carry and stash a few Bic lighters in their pocket and pack?  And their response was "Well, that is cheating."  This comment struck me in a weird way.  How in the world, is producing fire, in a survival scenario cheating?  

This person told me about how Bic lighters were prone to failure, didn't work when cold, could get wet, and gas would leak out.  

On the internet, you can find a lot of EDC forums, social media sites and webpages where people post up a lot of their gear; quite a few of them, and mainly a lot of them, people are carrying a lot of ferro rods.  I have quite a few dozen of them myself.  I have magnesium bars, Blastmatches, Spark-lites, and other fire starting gear.  I have started fires before using a bow drill and hand drill.  But I would take a Bic lighter over these methods any day. 

But when it comes to a survival situation, there is no such thing as cheating.  You either come out of it alive, or you do not.  There is no middle ground.  You either come home to your family or you go to the funeral home.  Plain and simple.  

It is easy to peruse the internet, see all the new gadgets and gear when it comes to bushcraft, survival and prepping.  I am guilty of it too.  But take a step back, and really ask yourself what YOU (being you, reading this) actually need versus want.  Years ago, our fathers, grandfathers and heck, even the Hadza tribes today, got by with some basic tools, but also with vast and practical knowledge. 

Do you really need to have to latest a greatest fancy fire starting do-dad, that super S90V super steel on a new knife, or would your time and energy be better used in practicing with basic gear and increasing your knowledge?  That is up for you to decide.  I am still learning continuously.  

So I'll leave this here.  Bic lighters are everywhere. For the price of a firesteel, you can buy 10 of them in virtually every store.  Then can last for 1000 to 3000 usages.  They can and do work in cold weather. They can and do work after being submerged in water.  You can use them one handed.  Just observe a smoking area outside an office building during a rain storm, a windy day, in the cold.  You'll see people using Bic lighters.  Why?  They have a deep need to start a fire and lots of practice.  

And what a lot of people do not think about - what if you become disabled or incapacitated; can the people in your party or whoever finds you, can they use a Bic lighter?  Chances are they can.  Even a 5 year old child can use a Bic lighter.  Chances are they might not be able to start a fire any other way.

Carry a few Bic lighters.  It's not cheating.  

Come home to your family.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Daylight Savings time again

It's that time of year again, where we set our clocks back (or forward depending when you read this) and we get all the reminders of whether you get another hour of sleep, energy savings, how lucky Indiana is, etc...  We also get reminded to check the batteries in your smoke alarms.

But, there are other things that I like to do periodically and I use this weekend as a reminder to get them done.

  • If you have a bug out bag (BOB) or any EDC gear, this is the weekend to check them out.  Check for expired medications, refresh your first aid kit, check any batteries for leakage and voltage (you should be using lithium batteries anyway) and just go through your kits.  Evaluate them to see if any items are still relevant in terms of technology or any new skills you have learned in the past 6 months.
  • Replace your Bic lighters.  They are cheap to begin with and their ferrocium flints can, and will, deteriorate over time.  
  • All ferro rods will deteriorate over time due to oxidation.  Coat your ferro rods with clear nail polish or any type of nail polish.  Coating them will stave oxidation off.  
  • Do you have any water stored?  You should have one gallon per day, per person stored up somewhere.  It's time to refresh it also.  I generally put seven drops of bleach (unscented, named brand) per gallon to ensure that nothing grows in it while in storage.  
  • Check the tire pressure of your spare tire.  When in the hell did you do that last?  Probably never.  Wouldn't you hate to have a flat, only to discover that your spare is flat also?
  • Check, clean and lube any firearms.
  • If you wear eyeglasses, do you have your latest old pair in your BOB or emergency kit?  Today might be the day to make sure they are in good condition and a prescription that you could wear for extended periods.
  • Check and rotate any foods that you have stored.  
  • And also, make sure, if you have pets, they have all their foods and medications in storage taken care of.
  • Do you have any leather footwear?  Get them ready for the snow and harsh elements that winter brings.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I am looking for a new knife. And probably always will be.

I have a problem.  My name is Chris and I am a knife addict.  In some circles, and mainly on the internet, folks like me are referred to as knife knuts.  Just like home audio, cars, home brew beers and sports teams, there are a certain segment of users, hobbyists, enthusiasts and tinkerers; they obsess about certain things.  Knives, yes, are one of these.  You can find many websites, forums, social media groups and blogs dedicated to sharp, pointy things.  In all honesty, a knife is just a piece of metal, with a small portion of the edge, sanded down to an apex.  This apex is small and minute, and is able to separate matter when pressed against a substrate.  That's it.  Just like the Mona Lisa is just a bunch of colors, placed upon a canvas.  You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want.  

For me personally, I think of a knife as one of man's first and most basic tools.  Carrying a knife does not make me a threat to the public or "tacti-cool", but rather it allows me to complete certain tasks quickly and it is a benefit to my life.  I think James Mattis said it best -

"My good reason to carry a knife is that God gave me rather weak teeth and rudimentary claws in an evolutionary trade-off. The hairy-armed person who figured out how to put an edge on a suitable rock made it possible for us to be recognizably human in the first place. I wear a wristwatch whether or not I have an appointment to keep, and I carry a pen and/or pencil because I am a literate person whether or not I have a specific writing task ahead of me, and I carry a knife because I am a human and not an ape.

A knife comes in handy for all sorts of random tasks that involve separating matter. Like cutting a string, or making a sandwich, or opening a package. It can also come in handy in an emergency, which need not involve a human assailant, and emergencies are by their nature unforeseen, so one should carry a knife all the time.

And in a perfect world where nobody needed a weapon, I'd probably carry a slightly larger knife, because it wouldn't scare people."

Casey Anderson and I are working on a project together and during some downtime, he asked me for my opinion on a new knife.  In my social circles, I get a lot of question about knives, so I am going to try to summarize my decision making process when trying to answer some of these questions when someone asks me about knife recommendations.  While I have never claimed to be an expert, I try to be a studious student of the knife world and pass on what I have learned in my own quest to find myself my favorite knife.  And in all honesty, I do not think I will ever find it.  But, I do have a couple of knives that are as close to perfect for me.  

I want a knife that will stay sharp for a long time.  This is one of the most asked questions I get.  Honestly, the only answer is to buy a knife, take it home and place it in a box or storage.  Never touch this knife, ever.  And it will stay sharp for a long time.  Knives that are used, will lose their sharpness over time. Just like car tires, they will wear out over time when they are used.  Some faster than others, how you use them and what materials they are made of.

I want a knife that is easy to sharpen.  Every knife is easy to sharpen.  But in today's throwaway society, this skill is not as pervasive as it once was.  You probably remember your grandfather's pocket knife or your grandmother's kitchen knife, that had been sharpened down to virtually nothing.  Sharpening a knife is basically abrading away the metal on the bevel, on both sides, to where the apex forms a certain angle.  Sharpening is very easy in theory; there are a hundred ways to do it and a hundred end results that will define whether or not a knife is sharp.   Just like baking a cake is easy.  You can give a hundred people the exact same ingredients, the exact same instructions, the exact same oven, and you will get vastly different tasting cakes in the end.  Sharpening (to me at least) is the same.  What works for me, may not work for you.  Your cake could actually be better than mine, given all things being equal and your tastes.

I want a knife for... Usually the next question I ask, is what are you going to use your knife for?  One would not try to prepare firewood with a fillet knife, nor would you try to fillet a fish with a machete.  It could be done, but it is not the right tool for the job.  There are different blade lengths, thicknesses, geometries, different types of metals, different grinds, different bevel angles, fixed blades, folding blades, corrosion resistance, and price point.  Unless you are going to use this knife for one specific purpose, it will be tough (but not hard) to find a one size fits all knife, to do everything you need.  There will be trade offs, here and there.

I want a knife from manufacturer X.  To me, knives are like BBQ and beer.  There is no such thing as bad BBQ or beer.  Just some are better than others.  For me personally, I support manufacturers or makers that actively interact with their users/customers, and actually listen to them.  One manufacturer specifically took an idea from a knife forum user, and turned it into a full production blade.  The owner of another manufacturer actually will respond to users on forums or social media and will own an issue through resolution or will replace a knife that had been clearly abused.  These are the makers that I lean towards.  I met an individual that made custom fishing lures once and asked him was his lures were designed to catch.  His simple reply was "fishermen".  I avoid these types of knife manufacturers.  

I want the best survival knife.  Very easy answer.  The knife you have on you at the time you need it.  A $2 piece of junk knife from the gas station is the best knife in the world when you really need it.

I did not type up Rockwell hardness of steels, carbide structures of steels, who heat treats steel better, whether or not you should use 1095 versus D2 versus SV35N steel, convex edges, stropping, India stones over diamond stones for sharpening, etc...  This is a rabbit hole that one could go down forever.  I know I have in my life.  I just wanted to type this up, so if you are looking for a new blade, start with some the basic questions first.  Maybe in another blog post, I can peel the onion a little more and expand further. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I guess it is time for an official announcement.

If you are reading this, then I guess the cat is out of the bag and the information has been made public.

Yes, that is me, Chris Swanda, a new member of the cast/crew/dude of Discovery Channel's Dude You're Screwed Season 2.  While season 2 does not broadcast until sometime in 4Q 2014, I guess by seeing the TV commercial during Shark Week 2014, one could surmise that I might have something to do with that show.  I mean, why else would they throw a redneck country boy into a Volkswagen commercial, on the Discovery Channel, during Shark Week, claiming to be a "Dude" and his name is Chris?

The all new 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI 

If you are not familiar with the show, here is the URL to Discovery's website... (It may not be updated for Season 2 at the time of this posting.)  

Season 1 is also available on iTunes, Amazon DYS season 1 and VUDU for streaming, since other places to watch online are most likely not officially sanctioned by Discovery and a bit sketchy.  I do not have an affiliate account or anything, just pointing you over in case you are an Amazon Prime member.  I am sure that Season 1 will re-run on Discovery or Animal Planet leading up to Season 2's debut later this year.

I have been dying to tell a lot of friends and family about this opportunity since last year.  As some of you are aware, the Swanda family has had a rough time over the past few years, through no fault of our own; sometimes bad things happen to good people.  When this opportunity came up; we took it as a sign that maybe we have paid our dues, it was divine intervention, karma or just plain old luck.  

I am truly thankful to everyone at High Noon Entertainment and Discovery for giving me the opportunity.  

Follow along on social media also:

The best way to engage with me personally, is through Google+.


But I understand that some people use other social networks, so follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.  

Facebook - Please like the following pages and follow our adventures as season 2 gets closer.  Dude You're Screwed and Chris Swanda 

Twitter -  Also follow along @Discovery, @DudeURScrewed, #DudeYoureScrewed, and me @ChrisSwanda

Anyway, stay tuned for more details and I will update this blog or social media appropriately.  But you know how it goes, you start a blog and have all these big plans for it and after a few postings you realize that you are not a writer.  Hopefully I will try to keep some relevant content here or updates.

I will try to answer a few questions here, because I know that a few of you will have them.

Have you changed careers and/or are you still employed at Pinsight Media?
No, I am still employed at Pinsight Media.  Outside of my technology career, I still teach and consult on various outdoors topics.  I hope that I can continue doing some work on camera in the near future. That, or maybe I can combine the these two interests into one career...  Or you can just click the ads in this blog post since TV doesn't pay as much as you think.  LOL

How in the world did you get on TV?
In all honesty, I have no idea.  And what I mean by this, is that I was not pursuing any TV opportunities.  I had a few casting producers cold call me last year for various projects and eventually I was offered to participate in Dude You're Screwed.  I have helped, taught and consulted on various outdoors and preparedness related topics for most of my life and must have impressed someone, that knew someone, that knew someone, that knew someone...  Plus, be careful what you say on the internet... you may have to back it up one day.

Do you have an agent?
I sure do.  I use N.S. Bienstock based out of New York. (  They have been extremely helpful, since I am new to this industry and they have been a pure pleasure to work with.  Plus it sounds really cool when my phone rings and I get to proclaim out loud "excuse me, my agent is calling...".  

Now that you are a big time TV survival dude, do you still provide personal one-on-one instruction or consult?
I would not say that I am a big time TV dude, but yes, I would love to assist you with your pursuits in wilderness survival and emergency preparedness.  There is not a one size fits all class or instruction out there, because everyone has a different background of knowledge and domains of concerns.  I would love to be able to help you understand what and why you want to learn such skills, and then help you realize your goals.

You have been wearing shorts and go around barefooted for as long as I have known you, even in -15 degree weather.  What is up with the long pants and boots?
Ha.  My legs are too ugly for TV and somehow ended up wearing my boots.  But I guarantee you, that shorts and bare feet are my attire most of the time.

Do you really like bacon as much as you talk and joke about?
I have been known to eat bacon sashimi.  :)

  I'm joking... bacon is not located on the top of a pig near the neck.

What is a polymath?
A person with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge.

Stay tuned for updates,


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Morel season is in full swing


After 49 weeks of waiting.

Morels are here.

The soil temps finally got above 52 degrees, we finally got a little bit of rain and I got a chance to take a long walk on the property.

Last year when I was harvesting morels, I carried my bounty in a mesh laundry bag, in hopes that as I walked around I would drop spores all around spreading even more morels around.  I should know in the next few weeks whether or not it worked or not.  BTW, the knife above is a Mora Bushcraft Forest.  I am starting to really love Moras.

All in all, not a bad haul for today.  Over the next two weeks, we should be hauling in lots of morels.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rebuilding our EZGO golf cart engine

So this was a fun project.  Long story short, is that we blew out the piston rings in our 1986 EZGO golf cart and I basically rebuilt the engine.  Having never done this before, it was rather easy and a pretty fun experience.

Yep, this piston is pretty gnarly.

And something took a ding out of the piston head.  

So, long short just a bit longer, I basically pulled the engine, and since it was out decided to replace all the fuel lines, filters, clean up all electrical connections and throttle/choke cables.

Here is the patient without his guts or heart.

And at least someone is excited that it is back running.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chris Swanda

Stay tuned for updates to this blog.  I have a few projects going on and when I get a chance to share them with you, I plan on updating this blog, along with my Google+ page.  Also other social media sites. 

I mainly set this blog up, so that friends and family that do not use Google+, Facebook or Twitter, can at least have somewhere to get their updates.  I haven't used Facebook or Twitter in almost 3 years, so please if you want to check up on the Swanda Family, use Google+.