Try it now, not in a disaster

In my previous post, I talked about learning to use your equipment now, not trying to figure it out when you really need it.

This applies to stuff you “know how to use” as well.  Not because you don’t know as much as you think you do (which may or may not be the case), but because stuff has been known to not live up to its advertising.

Case in point.  I have some nifty mylar zip lock water bags in 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon sizes.  They’ve been in my kits for who knows how long, and for some reason I can’t remember now, I decided to try filling up one of each.  Good thing.

I fill up the 1/2 gallon one and try to zip it closed.  A bunch of water is squeezed out.  Hmm, this could be a problem.

Morph into scientist mode and grab a 1 quart measuring cup.  Fill it to the 1L line and pour it in, and repeat.  Now there is “exactly” 2 Liters in the bag.  And the water level is ABOVE the zipper.  Carefully zip it closed and all the water above the zip is pushed out, and it appears even some below is removed.  Pour the water bag into the measuring cup, and the result?  1.6L.  20% less than I expected.  Now there is nothing wrong with a 1.6L water bag, unless you expected it to be 2L (1/2 gallon/2 quart).  And planned your water purification accordingly.  Because I happened to try the bag, I now know and can compensate.

Did it really squeeze out some of the water below the zip?  I filled up the bag to 1/2″ BELOW the zip and carefully closed it.  A little water was squeezed out right as it neared completion.  Thinking about it, when the bag is open, the top part is a cylinder.  In order to zip it closed, you need to flatten the cylinder, so of course it holds less closed.

I tried the 1 gallon bag, and got 3.7L into it.  Only about 8% less than expected, but still, good to know.

I wonder what else I have which won’t do what I expect it to?  Hopefully not much, since I tend to “play” with stuff when I first get it.  Not because I should (which I now know), but because it is the fun part of getting the stuff.

Note, that some things you can’t try, because trying it uses it up or otherwise makes it no longer suitable for its intended use.  Trying every one of your matches to ensure they all work would be pretty silly.  Picking 2 or 3 at random and trying them would seem to be an acceptable compromise.  Same with ration bars.  Get an extra one to try out, and make sure that you can tolerate it, both from a taste standpoint and from its impact on your, if any.  For something which is “compression packed” or otherwise sealed, get extra where practical, pick one at random and actually try it.

Oh, and this is true at the “macro” level as well.  Once a survival kit is “complete”, carry it under conditions as similar to the intended ones as is practical.  Does it flop around?  Too heavy?  Noisy?  Stuff breaks or leaks?  Something falls off or out?   Gets caught on things?  Better to find that out now and fix it, rather than under conditions where you can’t fix it.

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