Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Z-Medica QuickClot Sport bandage

You may recall a while back I tried to get my hands on QuickClot kit by Z-Medica as a part of the ITS Trauma kit but ran in to all kinds of export-issues, where the military grade kits were not for distribution outside of the USA.

I never gave up looking though, and found an alternative supplier, Urban Conquest who, whilst they didn't supply the military-grade versions of the impregnated bandages, with the variety of formats and including x-ray tracking strips and the like, still offered the basic properties of a blood-clotting treatment in a vacuum packed and irradiated sterile package. It looks as though they may no longer stock them however. However, Survival Supplies Australia stock similar (and more advanced) products.
The active ingredient in these products is a kind of clay or clay-stone, albeit in a very high-tech version of it, kaolin or zeolite to rapidly clod bleeding, with out any harmful side effects.

The fibers of otherwise standard medical gauze are impregnated with this material and apparently on application, it rapidly promoted clotting. Some products (in the military and EMT lines, are set up to be deposited deep within penetrating wound cavities such as gunshot and shrapnel wounds, and are reported as being able to stop arterial bleeding. How Kaolin works.

Given the chemistry involved, it should be noted that when working the clotting agent can heat up, something for both patient and responder to be aware of.

I got hold of two different sizes of kit, two of the 25g pouch (3.5" x 3") or 50g pouch (4.75" x 4.75") . I have one of each in my EDC pack, and whilst have not cracked on out to use it (thankfully, no heavy bleeding has presented itself for me to treat any time recently) I like having them there. The 25g pouch is small enough that it can slip into a pants front-pocket and pretty much vanish.

The compact nature of the kits very much lend themselves to having some on hand for any outdoor adventure, where you don't want to be left bleeding through bandages until you can get more serious medical assistance. For those of us who either live adventurous lives, have adventurous families or both, these might be well worth adding to your EDC as well. You never know when you might be called on to plug a hole.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: QuickLock

There are times when you really don't want to be walked in on: when rifling through a filing cabinet at the Watergate Hotel, getting a couple of hours rest in a cubicle hotel in Bangkok Airport or trying to stay away from the prying eyes of toddlers having well deserved intimate moments with delicious company, or just don't want to be disturbed whilst having a movement...

Sure, door locks are good, but there are any number of ways to slip around them. Sometimes a little bit more security is needed when you are distracted or otherwise engaged and not ready to repel boarders. Especially when it's not your own home and castle.

I saw these on the get a cheep-cool-thingy site, Zazz, and gave them a try. This is the QuickLock, and it is a remarkably simple piece of pocket privacy protection.

The idea is simple. You slot the long face of the mechanism into the door frame, with one of the "tongues" fitted into the recess where the latch (the bit that sticks out of the door) and strike plate (the metal plate fitted to the wall the latch fits into).

You then fit the accompanying steel bolt into the closest arm of the ^ shape opening, slide it as far down (and thus, close to the door) as possible.

This then makes a wedge that holds the door in place, preventing it from opening inwards, even if the handle is turned and the latch is let free, the tongue holds against the strike plate and door-frame, and the bolt snags the door.

This would  work for most if not any inwards opening hinged door, and is designed to work left or right. I found that depending on the thickness of the door, an distance to the latch-hole of the strike plate, there may even be some wiggle left in the ft, but it held even with some serious jiggling and shaking.

I'd not trust this against a solid boot, and any MOE tools other than lockpicks but for a casual traveler, who worries about someone else with keys coming in to a room you are sleeping in, or "taking a shower"
this might be just the ticket.

It folds up into a slightly more than credit card sized, but totally pocket sized kit, at 86 x 45 x 10mm and fits, without marks, in seconds. 

Certainly adds a modicum of security to hostel, motel or bathroom visits you may have, and would even give the velociraptors a hard time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Boker+ Tomahook

I have had the good fortune to lay my hands on a couple of Boker blades in the past, most notably, the American Kami - Boker MidTech Colubris the an example of the transition to production model from the artisan models such as the of the American Kami Super Colubris.  I like their work.

I was very fortunate to have been gifted this very pretty piece for my most recent birthday by one of my partners from Survival Supplies Australia. This is the Boker+ Tomahook and it sings to me.

Bearded axes are a piece of my heritage, and I'm always keen to a good solid one to add to my collection. The M48 Walking axe and it's little brother the M48 Ranger Hawk are two good examples, but as dedicated readers will note, I've had troubles with the design.

The Tomahook features a full length G10 handle bolted through with five hex screw, recessed bolts. The handle is inset from the edge, and rounded to leave a working steel edge running around the entire tool. For all your hammering needs.

With its broad wide blade I have spent some time chopping firewood and trimming our out of control acacia tree it is an highly effective as a hatchet. When prying apart packing pallets, I found that it can also be used as a lever, with its top edge being  sharpened like a chisel, for wedging in, and doing stripping cuts.

The back end of the axe
is a rather pointy tip works as a glassbreaker or pounding tool for times where you want to pound a hole, crack a rock or melon, but perhaps not leave a 14.3cm (5 5/8") axe-wound.
The 816g (28.8oz) axe is sprightly in the hand, both choked up behind the beard, or holding on to the tail end, single-handed, and is magic and menacing two-handed.

The SK5 steel is 4.5mm thick, and hardened to 57-60 HRC at the head, so I shudder to think of the problem this axe won't help to overcome.

It comes with a specially designed Kydex sheath with four eyelets for running lacing and attachment devices. It also features a friction catch, which holds the axe in very snugly, but also allows for a swift yanks and draw action.

I really liked receiving this, and liked waving it about and chopping my way through a variety of items. I can see this featuring heavily in my camping, wilderness adventuring and molon labe moments.

This is an exceptional piece, and well worth looking at if you're in the market for a solid tomahawk.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Propper Liberty bottle

First published on BreachBangClear here.
Many thanks to the Mad Duo and team for adding me as an auxiliary ... 'roo's on the barbie any time you rock up ...

My first item from a bundle of goodies from Propper that I am going to cover is their nicely branded "Limited Edition" Liberty Bottle. I've seen these good looking bottles in the past, but so far, had stuck to either my much loved but slightly unreliable 1L SIGG or the very reliable widemouthed 1L Nalgene.

The Propper Liberty Bottle makes a very nice addition to my collection, and let me tell you why.

Made from 100% recycled metal aluminium, with 100% recylcalable materials in the cap and bottle, the Liberty Bottles are both light, strong and friendly to the environment. Like the SIGG bottles, the Liberty bottles are formed from billet plugs, giving a seamless construction and are lined with a flexible and food grade coating, which ensures no flaking or chipping when the bottle itself is dinged and dented (as may happen with the hard wear some of us are guilty of putting our hydration systems through.

This coating exceeds FDA requirements and provides a non-toxic and non-leaching surface that ensures no heavy metal leaching or porous surface are present for bacteria to build up on, keeping them sanitary for longer.

The bottles are independently lab certified to by 100% BPA free, for those worried about that kind of thing.

The fact that that coating is white means that visual inspection of your bottle for both fullness, and skunge buildup is a lot easier than if it were a darker colour. I really liked this.

Three locking lugs on the rim of the bottle are not obtrusive enough to be a bother when either filling up the bottle, or drinking directly from the lip.

The taper of the bottle also acts to smooth out the pour, much like a wine bottle, all part of the design

The sports cap that came with my Propper Liberty bottle has some very nice design features too. The all-around silicone rubber plug fits both into the neck and also against the lip of the bottle giving a really good seal. I've had not a single drip from the neck once I worked out the "click" feel that indicated a full seal. The three inset channels take the locking lugs, and feature a slope and notch type system to hold the lugs snugly in place, with a 1/4 turn being all that's required to open and close the bottle securely.

At 700ml (24oz) this is a good sized bottle for me when I don't feel the need to carry a whole liter around.

That sports cap has a couple of other neat features. The circular dome just offset from the straw port is a vent. This means that the negative pressure put on your bottle by sucking on it doesn't pull that back through the mouth-piece (and your back-washing mouth...) further adding to the longevity of the contents, as well as making drinking much easier and more free. The straw itself is removable, and can be left out entirely, if you don't mind the "tilt-back" drinking style.

The silicone rubber nipple fits snugly against a ridge on the cap to keep it crud-free, and covers the vent hole when depressed. The lever also acts as a carry handle, and the whole assembly can be broken down to clean all the parts.

The only drawback I've found is that if I've let a cold drink warm up, or hold the bottle around any air-space, the heat of my hand can expand the air inside enough to make it spurt my drink up out of the straw when I flip the top.

Liberty Bottles cutting-edge cylindrical printers have done a great job on Propper's design, laying down graphics you can feel. I really liked that tactile diamondplate addition, and the surface material has taken a few drops and knocks already with no sign of wear.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: EDCpen

As first featured on here: the-ultimate-minimalist-everyday-carry-pen-edcpen

I was very pleased to be contacted by Kris of EDCpen who I've been following for a while, having missed out on his Kickstarter, but also by association with Brad of Tactical KeyChains, who has collaborated with Kris in the past.

Openly professing not being an engineer or product designer by trade, rather, Kris is a guy with a great idea. A former Infantryman and Paratrooper, who like me enjoys having a handful of EDC items which are practical and useful on a daily basis. Kris has gone the extra step, (in more way than one) and has produced a great item which I am pleased to share here.

The Kickstarter project that was produced to fund the production of these, and offered them in aluminium, brass and stainless steel. A later stretch goal brought forth a titanium option, which is what I was sent.

Fitted with a Fisher Space Pen cartridge the EDCpen gives a smooth writing action, and fits the hand snugly, even for a small pen, when unscrewed. You can see the threading and o-ring where the lid fits to the pen end, and the machined rings for grip towards the nib end. I found as a pen, this was a great fit, and haven't had any trouble using it. The ends feature similar fluted groves as those seen on the Ti2 Sentinel cache that Mike Bond puts out. I have a feeling there is a lot of collaboration between these guys, which is excellent, as it means there are awesome products coming our way.

The whole pen has been machined from solid titanium, with the cap having its lanyard loop cut deeply enough that there is no doubt that your cord would break before the loop, and the pen body itself seats the ink cartridge by having a countersunk threaded plug which screws in tightly behind the cartridge.

I can't imagine the situation in which this would come loose of its own accord in my use(perhaps being stuck in an engine casing) but it certainly didn't give me any worries. This thing really is designed to last a lifetime.I shudder to think what it would take to break this thing, and I'm confident that my body would go first.

I've covered a couple of "tactical pens" in the past, namely the S&W pen, and the CRL modular pen. The EDCpen is substantially heftier and hardier feeling than both.

It's solid construction, especially in titanium, give it a mass of 50g, ( 1 3/4oz) (53g with the included paracord loop), which outweighs the aluminium version of the CRL pen (at 42g) but as I said earlier, it sits nicely in the hand. The smooth finish of the pen lends again to it's heft and I found that the four fluted groves had just enough bite to their edges to give a good grip, without cutting in.

Why is this relevant? Because I always like to look at how I can use what I carry to combative purpose.

Having a 113mm x 12mm cylinder of titanium on hand just made me want to hit things, and I found that it most certainly does make an impression. These two divots were from one-inch-punch type strikes on a painted concrete wall. The pen didn't take even a smudge, the wall took two fairly impressive dents.

This was a great pen, and certainly worth adding to my EDC. It certainly lives up to its name. My only worry would be losing it, and with the included paracord lanyard, I've been able to have it looped through PALS/MOLLE, my belt loops and the like. This is a great example of someone taking a simple need, producing an elegant product and having a complete solution.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Snow Lizard - SLXtreme 5 iPhone case

Attentive readers may recall the Kickstarter for the rugged, batter and solar powered phone case, the SLXtreme that I covered a while ago. You may also recall how I took it on the Tough Mudder twice last year but it didn't survive the second attempt.

The hinge cracked and I had some water leakage into the unit, temporarily shorting out my phone, and killing the unit. I was sad, because it was otherwise a great piece of kit, but I also realised that I had put it through a pretty arduous test for a phone case.
However, undaunted, when I saw that Snow Lizard had gone on to make a case for the iPhone 5 (which I had subsequently upgraded to) I got in touch with them to let them know that I was keen to put it through its paces, and they kindly sent me a replacement, in the form of the new and improved SLXtreme 5. In safety orange no less.

It features all the same aspects as the previous model: latch-locking top opening, press-button battery-check and solar power switch, 2,550 mAh battery, membrane speaker

and mic covers, rugged buttons for volume and "home" buttons, a lanyard loop, capacitive touch-screen membrane.  It also sports a thumb-screw bottom sealing latch, and an access port for both USB charging and for the headphone jack. Forward and read-facing camera ports allows for photo and video capture and selfies.

There had been significant improvements as well.The in-built battery is 550 mAh larger in capacity over the "4" version.
 The bottom access port is now tool-free access (even though previously all you needed was a coin), the main latch is now a two-part metal, rather than polycarbonate.

The most exciting new feature however was the headphone jack socket and adapter. With an o-ring sealed plug, and matching sealed adapter, it is possible to have the phone safely cocooned and waterproof, as well as having access to headphone and mic jacks, a feature I've missed since my yellow Walkman days

As with the previous model, the SLXtreme 5 is rated at IP-68 with an operational depth of two meters, so in theory you can take SLXtreme anytime you are in or around water. It doesn't float, however, so I kept mine well attached to myself with a lanyard of paracord. This "open" shot gives you an idea of the engineering used in this cases creation, and it certainly paid off.

having access to the USB port (not the Lightning port of the phone, mind) allows you to charge the phone and its built in battery, but not synch, as far as I can tell.
The main port includes optically clear and easy to clean lenses, padding and improved closing latches, as well as hinges, substantially stronger in design than the previous model, I was pleased to see.

The solar panel was also improved, with a more matte finish to the surface, and what looked to be improved collector crystals internally.

The finish and the feel of the case as a whole was a lot more refined, and with the extra metal hardware, and the changes to the bottom panel, I was really impressed with the design improvements the Snow Lizard team had put into the next model.

When I took the plunge, (so to speak), and took my phone in its new case into the warm waters of Fiji, I knew I was going to give it a good test. With its "2m" depth rating, I was trepidatious  about how it would survive the trip, but as you can see, it worked wonderfully.
I had to remind myself a few times to use the buttons to control photo operation, as the main screen doesn't work under water, but I was able to switch between still and video controls on the surface easily enough, with just a flick of the wrist to clear water from the surface.

I found that the edges were a little tight, when dealing with water droplets, for dexterous screen manipulation, but the macro-control I needed worked just fine. The phone was bone-dry after almost an hour in the water (and subsequent jet-ski back to the resort), and the footage turned out really well.

All in all, I am thoroughly pleased with my replacement SLXtreme 5 case, and would highly recommend them to anyone who wanted to do some wet and wild filming, mapping, long distance phone calls and catching up on your favorite Apocalypse Equippedness blog from a beach-side or mountain-top retreat with their trusty iPhone.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Mad Millie - Italian cheese kit

 For Giftmas I was lucky enough to receive this very spiffy DIY cheese kit, good for over 10 batches of cheese (approx 6kg in total), as produced by "Mad Millie". This is the Mad Millie Beginners Italian Kit

With recipes and all the ingredients you need (apart from the milk) to make some of the following:

Fresh Italian Mozzarella and Bocconcini (approx 600g/batch),
Ricotta (approx 400g/batch),
Ricotta Salata (approx 100g/batch),
Burrata Mascarpone (approx 700g/batch).

I recently rediscovered the kit on top of the refrigerator and I had wanted to make mozzarella as my first attempt. We sourced some UN-homoginized milk (as some reading indicated that would work better) I got ready to make some delicious cheeze!

Included in the kit are the  vegetarian rennet tablets (the enzymatic agent that causes the milk to coagulate), cheese salt (which is iodine-free, so as not to inhibit bacterial maturation),  citric acid (to acidify the mixture, allowing the rennet to act more effectively), calcium chloride (to re-introduce calcium often lost in milk-processing)  as well as the cheese cloth  measuring pipette, and thermometer needed.

With my 2L of fancy un-homoginized milk, and the added backup of my fancy new digital Range iPhone thermometer I made my attempt, and ended up with ... ricotta. 

After the process, which may have been less delicate than it should have been, I balled my finished product, and let it hang to drain off the last of the whey.

I ended up with a mass of cheese that yielded 450g, and I let it sit for  a few days to settle, before breaking open my ball, and seeing what I had wrought.

It had been obvious in my preparation that the coagulation step didn't ever really happen. I had curds, but never the solid custard-like phase that needed cutting.

My mozzarella failed, but I ended up with a pretty decent, if crumbly, fetta type of cheese.  

At this stage I am putting it down to poor technique on my part, and not the kit. Whist I am fairly confident that the temperatures and times were right, as I had the digitally controlled and timed Range to fall back on, I have a feeling that the initial combination of ingredients, and stirring may have been heavy handed on my part.
So whilst this first attempt certainly didn't result in the delicious creamy and plain ball of mozzarella that I had anticipate, I did manage to turn a volume of milk into a storable bulk of cheese.

I felt that it had sufficiently dehydrated to retard bacterial spoilage in the short term, and over the space of a few days, I broke it apart and sprinkled the product over a variety of dishes, like these patties.

I have successfully made cheese with this kit. Now to work out how to make the cheese I want to make.

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