Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Focus

It's been a long time since I last posted and a lot of things have changed since then. Among these, I have decided to not have a car or driver's license. There are many reasons for this, about which I will go into greater detail in future posts. But for now I will say that it is in line with my commitment to reducing the number of cars on the road and assert cycling as a viable form of transportation.

I have identified myself as a cyclist for 25 years, In that time, I have seen the amount of car traffic increase dramatically. This is definitely NOT a good thing. I consider it to be very bad. I feel much less safe on the road. I believe that cars are expensive, wasteful, largely unnecessary and just plain fucking dangerous. And they need to GO AWAY. The new focus of this blog is on my experience as a daily cyclist. I will point out what I think is significant, both good and bad. I will also be looking at related gear and clothing.

Pictured above is my main commuting bike. It is a custom, built on a Bridgestone XO-3 frameset. I built it up in about 1994. It has served me very well. I will go over the details in a future post. Until then, I encourage everybody to hide your car keys and get out and ride!

Semper Paratus

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Scout

Fire is one of the most essential elements of survival, so the means to start a fire is one of the most important components of your Bugout/EDC kit. It is also a good idea to have more than one method, because at some point, you will use up all of your matches and your lighter will run dry. A striking steel is an great alternative. It doesn't require fuel (other than tinder) and lasts for a long time.

Here I have the Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Scout by Light My Fire.

The flint is 3 inches long and comes with a striker. The cord keeps everything together. The whole thing comes in at a tiny bit over an ounce; 28.7 grams. The "handle" of the striker also includes a built-in whistle:

This is a simple tool which works very well. It produces a shower of hot sparks that will light a cotton ball very quickly. It also feels solid and well-made. The manufacturer claims about 3000 strikes.  It sells for about $15 and can be found at many online retailers. I got this one on eBay for $12.95.

Semper Paratus

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Energizer 3 LED Headlight

A headlight is another must-have for your EDC kit. I am only now discovering the wonders of a headlight and I don't plan on going without one again. There are a lot of different models available at many price points. Part of my goal for this blog is to review products which are readily available. I got this one at Target for $9.99

The head pivots and light is provided by three LED's, two white and one red:

Power comes from three AAA batteries, which are accessed by inserting a coin into the slot and twisting:

When I removed the cover the first time, it opened with a loud "snap". I was afraid I broke it, but didn't. The cover is held in place on the bottom by this little tab, which seems rather fragile. Care must be taken not to break it off:

Despite its somewhat cheap feel, this little light works well. It's bright and the two LED's focus into a single beam. It's comfortable, too. The headband is soft and fits snugly. This is a great item to keep in the car for nighttime emergencies like flat tires or dead batteries.

Semper Paratus

Mini Pry Bar

Here is a simple, cheap tool that no kit should be without. It's small, lightweight and takes up almost no room in your pack. It measures 7 inches long by 7/8 inches wide and about 3/32 of an inch thick. The claw on the end is about 1.25 inches. Total weight is about 91 grams (3.25 ounces). It slides easily into MOLLE webbing and could be stashed behind a pouch.The two holes allow it to be customized or dummy-corded with 550, if desired. I found this one on eBay for $5.25 (free shipping). Just search "mini pry bar".

Semper Paratus

Gerber Shard

Have you ever had to tighten a screw or pry something open and all you had were your keys? The Gerber Shard is one solution to both of those problems, plus it opens bottles, too.

If you've ever tried to turn a screw or pry something open with your thumbnail, this little tool can be a lifesaver (or fingernail saver). It performs several functions; large and small screwdriver, phillips screwdriver, prybar and bottle opener. It's also supposed to function as a wire stripper, but I don't know how well it would work. And although many manufacturers claim it, I could never figure out how a "lanyard hole" is a "tool". It's a hole. However, it is a good attachment point. Here it is attached to a lanyard I made using one of those skull beads I mentioned in a previous post:

The Shard is one of those items that you can't afford not to have. I got this one on eBay for $6.47 (free shipping). And at only 20.5 grams, there is pretty much no weight penalty. It's a handy thing to keep on your keychain.

Semper Paratus

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Skull Beads

I got these cool skull beads at Michael's for $2.49 (3-pack). The hole is big enough for 550 cord and are found in the paracord crafts section. I haven't seen these at Hobby Lobby. A cheap way to customize your gear.

Semper Paratus

Thursday, January 2, 2014

ALICE to MOLLE Adapter

Here is a simple device that allows the use of ALICE-style pouches and accessories on a MOLLE-type platform:

Here is the back:

These are made in the USA by Specialty Defense Systems. The assembly isn't exactly precise, so it doesn't lay flat when the straps are fastened:

Here it is on a MOLLE seat panel:

Despite them being imprecise and a bit lumpy, these adapters work pretty well. ALICE clips hook to them snugly and don't "walk". Here I have used one to attach a pistol mag pouch to a Maxpedition 10x4 Bottle Holder:

I got these adapters on eBay for about $3 each, but could be found at most military surplus stores. They are small and light and a good addition to any kit.

Semper Paratus