Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Propper - Genuine Gear Pants


It's been a while since I've covered a non-pouch, non-gadget, so I thought I'd cover one of my other staples. PANTS. Generally, I subscribe to the philosophy that "pants are tyranny"

I wear a lot of cargo-style pants, almost every set of pants I own in fact, not to mention my collection of cargo and tactical kilts. So when it comes to new pants, I have a few requirements and points I look for. I need to have cargo pockets that let me stow my iPad Air, at a minimum. I go to a lot of meetings, and use my technology heavily, but also like to go hands-free as often as possible.

It also helps to have copious loot storage when it becomes necessary. Snacks, shiny and pointies, discarded kit, whatever. Big pockets are a must. I also want strong crotches, as I seem to tear mine with alarming propensity in some pants, so good gusseting is important. The Genuine Gear pants certainly met my needs.

The military-inspired construction and fit of the Genuine Gear pants pulls from some pretty classic design elements. A zippered fly with button closure sits over the reinforced seat, as well as having all the seams, inseam, outseams and seat seams being "felled" which is to say double stitched. This makes them pretty sturdy. There are six pockets in the design, regular front pockets, twin button-closure back pockets with button flaps, and two large cargo pockets with double button flaps.
The bellowed pockets also feature drainage pockets and the pocket flap seams are fused for clean, professional look, however, I wasn't all that impressed with the outcome, as the flaps didn't sit flat.

In fact, the pants are billed as fade, shrink, and wrinkle-resistant, but I found them to take wrinkles quite easily and made them a little higher maintenance than some others I've reviewed. The ripstop material however, was quite resilient, and have both kept their colour and shape very well, and have resisted wear handsomely. They also feature adjustable waist tabs for secure fit which are a nice addition, as well as durable tape drawstring leg closures to keep rainbows, carnivorous cursed scarab beetles, dust and grit out of your pants.

The belt loops were a little narrow, which is probably the weakest point with these pants. I personally prefer thicker beltloops with more reinforcement sewn in, but they are still fully functional.

The fabric is very comfortable, and hasn't chafed or pinched on the inseams like I have had other pants do on occasion, so they have been comfortable for long hikes and adventurous clambouring.

They fit well, and were it not for the less than wrinkle-proof effect, I'd be over the moon with these, but on the whole, they are totally adequate, and robust enough for both outdoorswear, adventure and regular wear.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Home Front: Power Outage

We had a scheduled power outage at our place over the weekend, which we had completely ignored, and it took us a little by surprise, but thankfully, we have gas-for cooking and hot-water.

 What we didn't anticipate is the power-hungry nature of the ladies Pok√©mon GO running iPhone 5's. We might have lost wireless internet, microwaved cooking and refrigeration but they still "gotta catch 'em all!"

 However, that said, we were prepared. I fired up my replacement Power Practical PowerPot XL and set up two battery-packs including the Lithium 4400 and Limeade Blast 18,000mAh.


I also set up my tea-light candle driven Tellurex tPod power system which coupled with the power strength meter Power Practical Practical Meter charged another battery pack inside, as well as having a LED output option.

We were fortunate that even though the power-outage went 3-4 hours over time (apparently the pole-replacement was too big for the hole dug) it was not as cool as it had been, getting down to 5oC at nights, as all our inside heaters are electric. However, running the stove, boiling water in the PowerPot for hot drinks as well as generating power, and our collection of candles and lanterns for lighting.

Outside, I ran our BioLite thermoelectric stove much to the delight of Tactical Baby, who insisted in roasting marshmallows over the flames, whilst I charged yet another Lithium 4400 battery and phones directly. I cut wood to run the BioLite, as it only takes short sized lengths of wood and twigs before dark set in. We were preparing to cook by candlelight when the power came back on.

With good use of ambient light, not opening our fridges and freezers, and gas-cooking and water, we were hardly inconvenienced, and with my collection of thermo-electric power sources, we has device-running power aplenty.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Re-Blog: how to remove a fishhook


This was a very interesting piece I saw, from the Walden Labs who offer "Solutions for Self Reliance" which I wanted to share with you all. I've reblogged from Walden Labs before, they have great content. For those of you who have ever been out fishing and are a bit of a klutz, there is the very real chance that you might have stuck yourself with a hook.

The folks at Walden labs found this clip from Total Fisherman which demonstrates five different ways of removing fish hooks that are buried deeply in a persons body. Total Fisherman goes as far as really hooking himself to demonstrate these techniques.


Warning: If you don’t like seeing fish hooks going in and out of skin don’t watch this video.





Published on Apr 24, 2013, he buries and removes five fish hooks from my hand, arm, and leg, to show us whether or not the "best" fish hook removal technique actually works.

It appears to be working by securing the base of the hook as firmly as possible, against the body, and after fitting a larks-head knot to the hook end  and with a quick jerk, aiming to yank the barbed hook out with the tension in the metal itself.

Normally this is pretty bad-first aid advice, to pull a penetrating object out, and there is always a risk that pulling a barbed hook out will do more damage, however, in a field expedient situation, this is probably a better solution than trying to push the hook all the way through and cutting it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Home Front: Old school Cutting Practice

There are all kinds of cool-guy articles about putting lead to steel at the range, also many articles with serious-looking folks in pajamas bending arms and throwing bodies. But something I haven’t seen a lot of are action shots of the Japanese training method known as “tameshigiri“, or practice cutting. Much like ballistic gel is used to simulate how bullets react to human flesh for firearm testing, the practice of tameshigiri involves cutting practice on a realistic simulation of human flesh, without all the mess (and paperwork).

I have fifteen years of kendo (Japanese full-contact fencing) and hold a 3rd Dan grading, but even with all that my school never trained with live blades nor practiced tameshigiri. So whilst I had countless hours of swinging at and hitting my opponents, we did so in the knowledge that it was all blunt-force. Again, we were simulating combat, and simulating cutting.

I am fortunate enough to know a senior instructor of a different art, iaido, another modern Japanese martial art and sport that emphasizes being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to a sudden attack.

But whilst its practitioners use metal blades, and at advanced levels, live blades, they don’t participate in full-contact opposed combat. Because, well, dismembering your training mates is poor form.

They do occasionally practice tameshigiri however, to test the techniques they are performing. The targets are made of wet, tightly rolled tatami mat sheets, which need to be cut correctly or they bind up or crumple, immediately demonstrating an ineffective technique.

 Read the rest here on Breach Band & Clear.






Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: Credit Card lock picks

These appeared in my mailbox a long while ago, and have sat unobtrusively in my gear mound for a long while to boot, both in my EDC and in the Bunker, and I probably would have forgotten to report on them if I hadn't recently thought about other mystery arrivals I have had. It is a "concealed" set of lockpicks, cunningly disguised as a NQR credit card.

Labelled as belonging to a Mr Bond, James Bond, raises no eyebrows I'm sure, along with its not-quite right "VISA" and American Express looking skin. At least the numbers suggest it's expired, hey?

However, this cheesy exterior contains a clever design. Upon getting it out again, I fooled around with it for a little.

There are 5 tools secreted within the card exterior, 4 stainless steel picks, and a double-ended tension tool all cut from 0.035" spring stainless steel, which all fit into three cavities in the 1/8" thick card, which slide-slots into itself to seal your tools in (mostly).

This is a new kit, apparently available from the James Bond Lifestyle website (no, really) credit card pick set!There is an S rake, a hook, a ball and a full rake.
 
As far as as a set of lockpicks goes, I wasn't all that impressed. The press-cut tools were a little too thin and short to be ergonomic, far less so than my much shorter, but not flat titanium Bogota entry set from Oscar Delta  or the heftier handled but really long professional set from HPC. However, I realise that these tools are designed for obfuscation, rather than strictly for utility.


However, they are functional enough that they pick locks, with a little more effort and less finesse than the HPC's, and with less comfort than the really well made Oscar Delta's.

I managed to pick some padlocks I found at work, and opened a desk drawer with them. Hardly 00 series tasks but then again, these didn't come from Q either.

As a last ditch back up set, or as a novelty to really task yourself by using less than ideal tools.

Still, there is a certain delight for having another set, squirreled away, and secretly waiting for next time I need them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Kathmandu Wide Mouthed drink bottle

Every now and then a piece of gear comes my way through .... unconventional means.

One time an IR strobe mysteriously appeared in the post, another time the same thing happened with a set of lockpicks. Other times I have found gear discarded and added it to my collection (some would say hoard).

This time it truly was a case of "gear adrift is gear a gift", in that in the flotsam and jestam of my local beach, I spotted a water-filled bottle, and fished it out.

It turned out to be a very serviceable Kathmandu wide-mouth drink bottle.

It was full of fresh water, and had obviously snapped loose, fallen overboard or been washed away, as the lid-to-bottle retention strap had been snapped away, and only a stub remained on the lid.

I am all for reusable drink bottles, and the clear-plastic, wide mouthed Nalgene's that I have been using for years have served me well.


That link is for a slightly different design, as the one that washed up appears to be no longer available but here is the Dead link anyway.

Apart from the obvious aspect of having a reusable and sealable water bottle, that holds a liter of water for hydration purposes, this kind of bottle also has the capacity for storage for any number of small needfuls to set it up as a survival cache or just as a waterproof storage system for those of you with phones or still use paper money still ...

As a reusable drink bottle, it is only 155g (5.5oz) Eastman Tritan co-polyester, which makes it both odour and shatter resistant,  freezer safe as well as withstand temperatures up to 100 degrees for washing in a dishwasher. They aren't recommend for hot beverages as the plastic will become too hot to touch but make for a great hot-water bottle if you wrap a t-shirt around it once it's sealed up tight.
Even after being lost at sea, and losing its retention strap, and being sandblasted rather thoroughly, its held up really well. The volume increments are still visible, which is good for measuring cordial or tracking how much I've drunk and how quickly, but that's not nearly as useful as the addition of moulded finger grip points on both sides of the bottle.

When you've just filled the bottle, or washed it, or worse, filled it AND washed it they get slippery. so having a textured gripping surface really adds value to the bottle.
I dummy-corded a new retention string to my bottle, so I don't loose my lid, and have something to tie MY bottle down with, so I don't loose it overboard.

Certainly a good addition to my bottle collection, and the price was right, that's for sure.

Always be on the lookout for gear adrift, it's gear a gift. I'm still enjoying a number of items I salvaged off the Tough Mudder courses I've run.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wish-Lust: MotoGriddle packable fireplace



Hot off the press, here is a Kickstarter project that was brought to my attention by its creator, Phillip Kauffman, who was the mind behind the ScrewGrabber Kickstarter, I covered a while ago. This time, in a totally different direction, he has a set of flat-packing trail fireplace, specifically designed to be mounted on a trailbike, or outside of a 4WD.

The concept is not dissimilar to other "fold-flat" grill systems, but this one is designed to be vehicle mounted, and as such, it is bigger, sturdier and rather than back-pack or pocket packable, to be accommodated by an existing mounting system. A rod runs through the middle, and clamps tight to give you a secure mount. The MotoGriddle is designed to use that same mounting system.

When folded flat, the MotoGriddle is designed to be mounted underneath the  Rotopax jerry can system. Check out Rotopax system here: Essentially it's a modular locking system that lets you fix a range of proprietary jerry-can's to the back of a motorbike, ATV or other outdoors adventure mobile.

The original Motogriddle was very practical but a flaw became apparent; size. It was too small for a big camping trip. So the team scaled it up to create the 4WD and Trail Griddles. As a result, the 4WD Griddle is their new favorite in the Motogriddle line.

The original MotoGriddle (Small) for motorcycle mounting comes in at  9" x 13.5" x 5/8" when flat-packed, and 9.25" x 12.5" x 13.5" when set up. It weighs 5kg (11 lbs) without the top-plate grill, and  5.8kg (13 lbs) with the grill.

The Large for 4WD or RV carriage, is offered in either "4WD" or "Trail" patterns, but these appear to be aesthetic differences only.


When packed flat they are 16" x 14.25" x 5/8" and when set-up: 16" x 14" x 12". Bigger means heavier, so it's no surprise that they weigh 8.6kg(19 lbs) without the grill, and 10kg(23 lbs) with it. Hardly back-pack ultralight gear, but it's not intended to be.

Cut from 0.07" (3/32") A36 mild steel, these are intended to be for campers looking to comply with camp fire regulations. and have a complete solution no matter were they go. I've built fires in sand-dunes where you might despair for a couple of rocks to prop things up on, but with nothing in sight. This would be perfect.

Construction appears to be as simple as inserting tab-A into slot-B a couple of times and you're ready to go!

Both the 4WD and Trail Griddles easily accept pre-cut sold firewood, making preparation for a camping trip simple. With the larger size you get a larger cook top, more heat, and more light. Built in folk holes for levering off the grill-top for adding more wood and skewer-notches add to the functionality and really present the thought that has gone into these products.

The practical uses to the Motogriddle, the 4WD, and the Trail Griddles seem endless. The makers have used the Motogriddle on motorcycle trips secured by the Rotopax mounting system. They have also used the 4WD Griddle in campgrounds that had fire pits solely so they could move the fire where they wanted it.

Its a good looking invention, and whilst not the first of its kind, the inclusion of the Rotopax mounting system and overall size make it a very appealing project for those of us who camp from vehicles.

Check the project out here:





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