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.

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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".

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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

Swing-A-Way Can Opener

Although it's not cool or glamorous, a good can opener is a necessity. The Swing-A-Way manual can opener is one of the best ever. It's one of those simple machines which works well and never needed improvement. I've had this one for about 25 years and it still works perfectly. An American-made version can be found here.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Maxpedition 10" x 4" Bottle Holder

For a hopeless gearhead like me, the Maxpedition 10" x 4" Bottle Holder is an insanely fun piece of kit. It's designed to hold a 1 liter Nalgene or similar bottle and offers a number of different carry options.

As the name implies, the pouch is ten inches tall by four inches in diameter. There is a 2 inch wide strip of loop fabric for mounting nametapes or patches. On the front there is a zippered pocket which measures about 7 inches high by 4 inches wide by 1.5 inches thick. Inside this pocket there is a single 2" wide elastic keeper:

The inside of the main compartment is padded and there is a drain hole in the bottom:

The back has a lobster-claw style hook and five rows of PALS webbing. There are three rows of webbing, spaced five-wide, on each side. Also on the sides are D-rings for attaching a strap:

Versatility is this pouch's strongest asset. Here it is attached to the side of my Falcon II:

It can also be used as a stand-alone pouch or attached to a belt using two Malice Clips or something similar.  Here It is shown with a Maxpedition M-2 Waistpack and a salvaged strap attached:

Here I have attached a MOLLE to ALICE adaptor to the side:

As it turns out, ALICE webbing is exactly the right size for the Tactical Tailor clip-on phone pouch. Here it's shown holding a Sucrets-type box that I painted green:

And here I've attached a Gentex eyewear case. Along with the M-2 Waistpack, this is a nice setup for short hikes:

It's always good to have the means to boil water if necessary, and the GSI bottle cup is perfect for just that. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit the 10x4 very well. it's really tight and VERY difficult to remove from the pouch without some kind of "aid", like a piece of webbing slung under the cup or a stick poked through the drain hole. I've invented a kind of "extractor", but it's still a rough prototype, so I won't show it here.

I could go on and on about this pouch. Its modular possibilities are countless. I have shown only a couple of options. It's limited only by your imagination and your collection of other gear.

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At Mickey's Surplus

Mickey's Surplus is an almost iconic military surplus store in the KC area. It's been around for more than 40 years. Besides all the stuff for sale, his collection of militaria is worth the trip. Here is just one of many awesome items:

Next time I go back I will get better pics and do a proper review of the place. Until then, you can check out his website.

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