Friday, November 30, 2012

Home Front: Care Package

I've been in hospital all week -as a patient-. It turns out that the ankle problems that have been keeping me from kendo training were an early symptom of a bigger issue. Löfgren's Syndrome, a form of benign sarcoidosis, which struck me heavily on Monday night in the form of heavily swollen and painful ankles, and a creeping rash on my feet and legs. Three days admitted, my first CT scan, first joint aspirate, first lung function test, first EEG, first skin punch biopsy, first broncoscopy, ultrasound guided Fine Needle lung biopsy, bronchial lavage under "twilight general anesthetic" which I woke up during. So many firsts.

Turns out that this is a rare, usually fully recoverable condition, targeting the ankles of Vikings (well, men of Scandinavian descent). Like me. Upside is that I am already responding to treatment, feel much better.

Whilst admitted I had a care package delivery of a veritable mound of Skittles, gummi bears and even some flowers and a plush coyote/dingo.

I came home to find a care package from my pals at HorNest, in Singapore, with some goodies to review:
A Mystery Ranch Mystery Cinch
A set of ITS Tactical MOLLE Sticks
A Constel pocket lantern
and a wicked HorNest patch

Reviews to follow soon!

Thanks to everyone who's supported me through this scary time, I won't loose my feet, and will be back on track some time soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: OscarDelta SPD - Deep Carry Tube

Here is the second piece in my order from the forwards thinking folks at Oscar Delta Special Projects Division. 

The DCT (Deep Carry Tube) is an airtight and waterproof container, measuring 82mm (3.25") by 20mm (externally) and 16mm (5/8") internally. Both end caps are removable soft vinyl, smooth and extremely snug to the hard tube of the body.  

The idea being that it offers a unobtrusive and subtle space to cache small sensitive or vital items. 

The ingenious folks at Oscar Delta SPD suggests it can be used to store maps, documents, emergency cash, glow sticks, matches, sewing kit, fire lighting kits, spare batteries (fits CR123A, AAA, AA batteries and a variety of button-types) and other small items. 

My SERE v-cutter shipped inside it, and since getting it, I've carried it in the bottom of my front right pocket, it barely registers, and I have no doubt of its ability as a geocaching item, or means to secrete important or sensitive materials. As the folks at Oscar Delta SPD say, "Quite simply, an item that cannot be found, cannot be taken."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Home Front: Brewing

One of the things I love doing over summer is home-brewing. Humans have been brewing for millennium, and it is a really good way to make use of simple raw materials and make something special. The fermentation process (if done well) will produce sufficient ethanol as a waste product of the yeast doing the fermenting, to kill a significant proportion of potentially disease causing microbial contaminants that may also exist in the water and produce.

Ethanol as many of you will know has a pleasing effect on the human physiology, and I heartily enjoy it, and the carbonation that can also be achieved. This is the home-brew kit that I have, (this is a similar kit, my original brand lost to antiquity). It has served me well. Honey & water mead, ginger cordial, ginger pulp & water beer, ginger beer kit beer, apple cider kits have all worked well for me, but this time I wanted to give it a go with more raw-materials.

I went with the $2 2L bottles of apple juice and $2 jars of apple sauce I saw at Aldi
and regular dried bakers yeast (gasp if you will, brewing aficionados, but its never done me wrong), which I "started" in half a pint-mug of warm water with 3-4 tablespoons sugar dissolved in it. I cleaned the fermenter, and all the parts, with the manufacturer approved sodium metabisulfite steriliser. Be aware, this produces a very irritating gas, and will set off asthmatics, but it does a really good job at giving a food-grade clean to your kit, bottles and also to act as a medium to fill the bubble-valve. I have also never bothered to measure the the mixture I am brewing with, to determine the fermentation end point and to calculate the alcohol content, preferring a more rustic "it stopped bubbling much, and tastes good" method. Not very scientific, but in this instance, I depart from my scientific training as a microbiologist, and go with the spirits of my ancestors. Once it is done, I'll be bottling it in the recycled Grolsche bottles that I've been collecting for years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Oscar Delta - SERE V cutter

My good pal Spencer of SAR Global Tool send me a link to a some buddies of his, who are stocking his SOLAS Dog Tag Signal Device I also reviewed while back. So I headed over to their site and checked them out.

That company was Oscar Delta SPD, based out of the UK and they specialise in products to aid and assist in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape .
This little piece is the SERE Black Ops "V" Cutter.

It is a wearable, lightweight cutting piece that can be worn on or around the body, around the neck, attached to keys,
concealed in your boots (
OscarDelta SPD suggest in the top lace hole). OscarDelta SPD make a paracord survival bracelet which includes an elastic sheath to secure and hide the cutter.

At only 3g, this is an ultralight tool, and measures only 5cm x 1.3cm x 0.5mm. The cutting edges of the tool are formed by two razor blades riveted into a V shape to the steel body. 
 Even though it it light, the two blades are reported to cut webbing, seat-belts, seven strands of 550 paracord, duct tape, cable tie plasti-cuffs. This is not a hardened and toughened tool like the Gerber strap cutter but it doesn't have to be, this is a bare-bones escape tool. 

To use the cutter, being so small, it is positioned over the cord or strapping to be cut and pulled through using the lanyard hole and the supplied cord. It is too small a tool to really get much purchase on by itself, but any cord, or a keyring will do. 

I found that after some cutting, a number of fibers jammed between the cutting edges and pried them open a little. Being razor thin, this is inevitable, as the steel flexes. 

This isn't an every-day tool, but it is what it is, a secret escape tool, and I have no doubts as to its ability in that circumstance

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wish-Lust: ITS Skeletonised Bottle Holder

A while back ITS Tactical (of which I am a subscribed "Crew Leader", always glad to support a forward thinking group like these folks) posted their trial launch of a new product that really caught my eye. In a recent newsletter and subsequent posts they have announced that their ITS skeletonized bottle holder is now on general sale! I'm hoping that my contacts at HorNest will get some in...

Here's what ITS have to say about it:

  • Lightweight Skeletonized Construction Weighs 2.7 Ounces!
  • Double Layered Webbing with Strategically Reinforced HDPE
  • Slipnot Textured Pull-Tab for Non-Slip Grip
  • Adjustable 1/8" Shock Cord for Multiple Bottle Neck Sizes
  • Three Levels of Height Adjustment for Multiple Container Sizes
  • True One-Handed Container Deployment
  • MOLLE/PALS Attachment Also Adaptable to Various Belt Sizes
  • Color Matched Webbing and Loop
  • Available in MultiCam, Coyote Brown and Black
  • Hand Made in the USA using American Materials and Labor

MOLLE and belt compatable, adjustable to fit a variety of bottle sizes and shapes, with three points of adjustable shock-cord attachment, the ability to sling your bottle upside-down and bombproof construction. Whats not to like?

So, another collaboration between ITS Tactical and Zulu Nylon Gear, much like their also very cool (and wish-lustful) ETA Trauma kit. I have already commented on how much I like and am pleased with the Zulu Nylon Gear CAOS Admin pouch and the really cool MOLLE car visor sock, but this bottle bolder really appeals as well. I've been very happy with my Platatac FUP pouch, to hold my 1L SIGG bottle, but this is a purpose built piece, and is totally wish-lustable.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: SparxGear - Fire Piston

This is a very interesting item I backed through Kickstarter, and is a modern take on the Fire Piston, which is to say, a means of igniting tinder without spark or friction, but rather by rapid compression of air. The principle is that when a well-sealed piston is driven into a cylinder, with a portion of tinder at its tip, the rapid compression of air will drive the temperature of the space at the end of the piston to around 260°C (500°F). This is sufficient to ignite tinder, and you can use it to light a fire.

Eric Gilger started his Kickstarter to build a fire-piston, and I was all for it. The SparkxGear piston is the fire piston is 15cm (5 5/8") long with a 1.6cm (5/8") diameter. It weighs around 65g (2.25 oz) but the weight can vary slightly with additional slot rods, tinder and O-rings held in the storage capsules. There are three slots cut into the side which hose a magnesium (for emergency, thermite tinder), a Ferrocerium rod and a steel rod (fire-steel). The rods are kept in place by the pressure release-valve plug, at one end, which features a storage compartment (for tinder and replacement o-rings for the piston seal). The piston also has one of these compartments in its tip as well.

The piston is operated by placing some tinder (a supply of charcloth is provided) into the cup at the end of the piston, and, once the pressure release-valve end is tightened, and the piston seated, the piston-rod is driven into the shaft, and withdrawn rapidly, to ignite the tinder. This is trickier than it sounds, and I took a long time to get it right. Some lube on the shaft is needed, as its a really tight fit, the whole piece is very well engineered.

But here are a couple of shots of my ignited tinder, gently glowing, and flaring when blown upon, ready for sparkless fire-starting! This is a really cool piece of kit, but one that requires some significant practice to be dependable.The added magnesium, ferrocerium and steel rods, as well as the additional in-cap storage really makes the piece special, a lot of thought was put into these, and I will be looking out for Eric's next projects avidly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Video Review: United Cutlery M48 RangerHawk

This is me testing out the United Cutlery M48 Rangerhawk which I reviewed recently.

Hope you enjoy watching me chopping, piercing and hacking!

M48 Kommando Ranger Hawk Axe
Click image to go to Think Geek's store

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Altama Tan Desert MilSpec boot

Pristine boot pic, lifted form Altama's website. Mine are LONG since wrecked :)
I thought I should give my trusty boots a fitting send off. I've worn Altama Desert Boots for a number of years, my current pair having been with me since at least 2005, when I was taken out bunny-hunting and have stains from that event that I never buffed-out.

I've worn these extensively during the hot half of the year here in Melbourne (I wear boots all day, every day, unless I am barefoot) and have never had a complaint with the fit or function.

From the ground up, the Panama pattern Mil Spec Vulcanized Rubber has been grippy on road and rough terrain, I really like the Panama patter, it sheds mud, gives purchase when clambering and wears well.

Over the sole, is a heat-barrier, to keep the burning-hot sand, rock and road from radiating up into delicate feet, and is topped by a removable cushioned polyurethane innersole. I had to replace mine a few times, just because of the amount of wear they got. Inside the boot is lined with Coolmax® aiding in wicking and keeping my feet dry and comfortable. The outers are a combination of tan suede and Cordura material, and the boots top off with a padded collar, maxing out at 9" high.

The boots have a nylon coated brass "Speedhook/Eyelet" lacing system, which really performs well, reducing snags and aiding in speedy lacing, even when I put these paratrooper/ ladder laces on them. These were the boots I wore whenever going camping, doing Stargate Lasertag LRP, training for and running the Tough Mudder, and recently, the Stampede. Even prior to the Tough Mudder, they developed a tear down one side, which I attempted to patch, but alas, the conditions of the events and the amount of pounding they got have finally spelled the end for this beloved set.

Compare the "as new" pictures with the tread pattern wear, and you'll get an idea of how much use these boots saw.

These were great boots, but now they are destined for the Happy Hunting Grounds, and I will be on the hunt for a new set of boots. Any suggestions for summer-boots? Or should I stick with tried and true?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wish-lust: BioLite CampStove

In the lead up to the Hurricane Sandy landfall that hit the US East coast hard over Halloween 2012, I saw a great looking multi-function stove come past my friends feed, and it immediately took my interest. This is the BioLite Camp Stove and here's why I want one.

 The photo below shows a bunch of power-deprived NYC folks charging their phones at a  street-side kiosk running several of these stoves.
The stove itself is pretty simple.  With a packed height of 21cm (8.25") and 12cm (5") wide, weighing 935g  (2 lbs 1 oz) It is built to burn sticks, pine cones, pellets, wood chips, or other lightweight, small fuels and the frame will support a bot of up to 3.6kg  (8 lbs) or 3.6L (1 gallon) of liquid.
The real magic however, is that the orange module on the side is a thermoelectric generator.

As well as being fast to boil (a reported 4.5 minutes to boil 1 liter of water) the fire has a calculated 3.4 kw (lo) 5.5 kw (hi) peak output, which the thermoelectric generator can output via USB as Max continuous: 2W @5V, Peak: 4W @5V which apparently is sufficient power to charge and run most USB-chargeable devices including smartphones, GPS units, flashlights and the like.

Some reviewers have noted that these aren't especially efficient and I am looking forwards towards my first venture in this regard, with my tPOD1 Kickstarter on its way soon ... but the large scale BioLite, combining both power generation and cooking facility in one, sparks a distinct interest in my multifunction wish-lusting!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Smith&Wesson - Tanto Neck Knife

This pretty piece of steel was un cadeau for one of my partners, given by the main organiser of an event she was helping to run last week. She was good enough to loan it to me to play with for the blog. This is the Smith&Wesson - Tanto Neck Knife

As far as "thanks for helping out" gifts go, I must say, this is one of the prettier I've seen.

The skeltonised knine is full-tang constructed, with zytel scale sidings and a kydex sheath . The blade locks into the sheath with a friction clasp, and is both light at 100g all up, and dainty in the hand, at 18cm (7") over all, with an 8cm (3 1/8") blade.

Light and lively it suited the  spirit of the gift well, as a neck-knife to affix to the ID lanyards worn at organisers and officials this particular event, for safety needs as they might arise. 

The kydex sheath has two lanyard holes, for cord or chain to loop through, to wear in its "neck knife" configuration, as well as a drainage hole at the knife tip end. It also features a built in whistle, which I can tell you is VERY  shrill. It is placed such that you can use the whistle, AND draw the knife if that fails to have the desired effect. 
The blade is 2.5mm thick, and according to the internet has a Rockwell Hardness of57Hrc. That's pretty good for a 440 steel.

The blade itself is also skeltonised, with two cutouts, further reducing wight around your neck.

The thumb and index finger notches are aggressively crenelated grips, but not so much as to chew up finger and thumb. Without any guard, these crenelations act to lock your hand in tight and off the edge.

The edge is interesting as well, with a "tanto" tip, the main line of the blade is in face concave, with a subtle but significant bowing. This is pretty, but makes me wonder about keeping the blade sharp. I use  DMT diamond sharpening stones and I am unsure if i could get a good mating of stone to steel.

The factory may have had the same problem, as the blade ships only "supermarket-sharp", so I'm a little disappointed by this, especially on a chisel-ground blade. Hopefully I can do some good work with this, maybe a stropping will fix it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Zulu Nylon Gear - MOLLE car visor

Ever find yourself rummaging in the glove-compartment or coin dish in your vehicle for that pen, tool or gizmo, but have been unable to do so? I certainly have. The solution I have had in my current vehicle (a 5-door 2002 Toyota RAV4) is to have some of the internal compartments dedicated to certain things. This usually worked out, but from time to time, they aren't just where I want, when I need them. The solution came to me when I saw this come up in my feed from they folks at Soldier Systems I was reminded of it when Hornest advertised on their FaceBook page. This is the Zulu Nylon Gear MOLLE Car Visor.

What it is, is a double sided mid-weight nylon cover for your car sun-visor which is designed to fit most vehicles. It is approximately 30cmx15cm (12"x6") and has two distinct sides.

On the "down" facing side, a 3 channel, 8 row set of MOLLE webbing, allows you to mount and carry all kinds of things. The top and bottom channels are made of elastic webbing, and each end of the elastic channels is a loop, which are perfect for cylume sticks, or even a small LED flashlight.

Between each of the channels is a band of loop-field, for attaching patches or name-tapes (which would display when the visor is folded down). The middle band webbing is regular MOLLE webbing, for stability and strength.

When "up" the contents of my MOLLE visor don't interfere with my vision, and even a small pouch could go up there without a worry. This is my next thing to check! You can see from this angle, the hook-and-loop straps that act to fix the open end of the panel to the visor. This also leave a few more regions of hook-filed for attaching patches. The whole piece opens like a taco, and folds over and around the visor, with the long hook-and-loop straps giving you the ability to adjust it to the size and shape of your visor.

The flip-side of the cover has two document pouches, and three more loops of elastic, and a nice big watermark for Zulu. I have been thinking that I might slot my Stiff K.I.S.S. car-knife into that, rather than having it under my seat, making it more accessible for emergency access, and also stuffing the pockets with some first aid items like sterile gauze packets.

All initial tests and trials have been really good. I haven't loaded it up very much, but it's given me no signs of slipping of drooping. One thing to note, the cover doesn't have a cut-out to slot into the car-visor return clip (on the roof), so you have to push it in a bit to "click". I like it a lot, and look forwards to messing with its configuration to see what I can, can't and want to carry on my visor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Events: Stampede Run

I've talked quite a bit about my training and get-up for Tough Mudder that I ran in May 2012, and I think I got the bug. I also challenged myself to the Stampede.

The course was divided into a 5km run, and a 10km version (splitting off at the 5km mark, and rejoining for the final few obstacles.

The Melbourne 2012 run was held at the the Glenbrae Equestrian Centre in Wandin, and made good use of the site and facilities.

Under and Overs - log crawl and climb
Rope Tango - mud crawl whilst pinned down by a cargo net
Human Window - climb though odd shaped holes
Wrecking Yard - crawl through, over and on top of wrecked cars
Ice Bath - wade through and dunk in an ice filled pool
Bus Stop - climb over cargo netting up and over a bus
King King - big pile of tyres
Spiders Web - climb through a stand of trees wired with bungy-cord
Giant Slip and Slide - a long, long water slide into a pond
Trauma Tunnels - Crawl through piping and squirm through flat plastic sheeting
Sand Blast - do a circuit with a sandbag
Quick Step - run through flat tyres
Hay Stack - climb over giant rolled hay bales
Devils Cave - a darkened shed with falling water, and hay bales
Cable Chaos - climb over a series of stacked cable spools
Gladiators - run past a gauntlet of pugil-stick and boxing pad armed opponents
Tunnel Under - climb through tunnels
Dumpster Jump - climb in and out of a set of dumpsters (one with apples)
Half-Pipe - Scale a high sloped ramp
Sunday Roast - run over fire
Mud Buffet - crawl under barbed wire through mud
Bug Zapper - dangly cable filled hall some of which running with 10,000V!
As well as these, there were numerous stretches of thick, gluggy mud. and wading through murky ponds, and the occasional equestrian hurdle.

copyright to Supersport Images Pty Ltd  

This is my taking a leap over the bonnet of the last car of the Wrecking Yard. It was obstacles like this, and the crawling ones, that made me choose to wear my BlackHawk! Advanced Tactical Knee Pads v2.0 I've had these for a while, and they have done good service, although I have skinny legs, and found that they did slide a little being on bare skin, when I was crawling through mud-filled tunnels. I wouldn't have wanted to go without them though. Wearing suggestions anyone?
copyright to Supersport Images Pty Ltd   

This is me wading through the barrel filled dam, I wanted to give some of my other kit a good solid workout, and opted to go with my First Spear OAGRE vest, that I got from the folks at LEGear. As well as being well fitting, and totally as rugged as I have previously reported, I found that the belt-ties ensured that I didn't have to worry about my shorts coming off, and gave me some significant rash-protection when rolling over and crawling through obstacles. I also ran with some patches: A TAD logo Ranger-eye, I also wore my Stargate LRP nametape, to see how that held up and my ITS "Crew Leader" Tab. I pinned the Stampede ID number to the MOLLE, rather than using the sticky label, knowing the challenges it would be facing. On the back of the OAGRE I laced my "Zombie Control Officer" laminate, for a bit of fun, which got a lot of cheers as I passed folks, and the Tough Mudder patch on the back, under the drag handle. The 3L Source bladder that came with my Platatac Bravo pack fitted pretty well inside the OAGRE.

I also changed what I wore on my hips. Lesson learned from Tough Mudder earlier in the year. As awesome as my Survival Utilikilt is, it is not optimal attire for an endurance obstacle course like this, which is why I was so pleased with the new addition to my clothes-pile, in the TAD Gear Amphibious Cargo Shorts. As they were new, I didn't want to risk running-rash, and wore some boxers under them. Useless, they waterlogged and sagged. I would have been better off going my usual commando. Great shorts, fast drying and mud-shedding, comfortable and good for adventure!

copyright to Supersport Images Pty Ltd 

I opted for a hat over sunscreen, which gave me somewhere to mount my Contour GPS, in its waterproof casing, as well as keeping my hair out of the way. I wore my Platatac Tactical cap, which also somewhere to out my MSM "Zombie Hunter" patch. The Contour in its case assed quite a bit of asymmetric weight to one side of my head, I think mounting to a chin-strapped bump-helmet will be my next option. I also wore my Headsox scarf-tube, which helped keep the sun off my neck, keep the vest from chafing and also as a smoke filter.

I wore my Platatac Punisher-Skull logo CUS shirt which was a dramatic improvement in comfort over the Jackeroo safari shirt I wore for Tough Mudder. It dried, it breathed, it wicked, and was pretty bad-assed to boot!

I kept my delicate hands safe from harm with my trusty Ironclad Landscaper gloves.

So here I am at the end of the race, having crawled under barbed wire covered mud and been shocked by electricity over and over. I wore my much abused Altama Tan Desert Mil Spec boots, veterans of years of summertime wear, Stargate LRP and the Tough Mudder. This may have been their swan-song.

I did the 10km course in just under 2 hours, keeping a pretty constant pace. I'm not fond of running, it hurts, but I managed to jog pretty much the entire course, giving aid to people who needed it, and taking my time. I loved the obstacles, was happy with my effort, and the little preparation I did to be ready for it. Since May, I've gone for perhaps 4, 8km runs at lunchtimes at work. I feel that I am able to get from A to B in good time, regardless of the obstacles in my path.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Triple Aught Design - Amphibious Cargo Shorts

As it heats up, I wanted to get some shorts that would both fit (yes, I have apparently grown as I have matured and done more running) and would be able to take with me whilst camping or adventuring. One such adventure was the Stampede Mud-Run, which I will discuss in a post soon. I had been in touch with Mr Tay Choon Mong of HorNest, and he put aside a pair of the Triple Aught Design Amphibious Cargo Shorts for me.

I'd been a fan of the TAD Gear for a while, and when I saw their line of Amphibian Cargo Pants get some screen-time in the blogosphere, I kept my eyes out for what else would come from these guys. I already have a couple of little things of theirs: patches and Ranger-eyes so I was looking forwards to more. There were no exception.

Made from an "Amphibious Cloth" which is to say 100% Nylon (3.4 oz) with a DWR Finish (Durable Water Repellent), the material is silky to the touch and light. You can see a 1" loop field poking over my right thigh, with a TAD logo Ranger Eye glow in the dark patch fitted to boot (Thanks Hornest!)

Made for movement with a gusseted crotch, and clean seams, they provide unrestricted movement running or clambering, whilst still being comfortable when I am chair-bound. More importantly, they are "Engineered for Abuse" with triple needle stitching on the in- and out-seams, and the pockets and seat are also reinforced to enhance ruggedness.

What about pockets? Well let me get you going here: These shorts are constructed with five sets of pockets! From the front you can see Two Front Welt Pockets, which each having a D-ring hanging from below the belt loop, these were both deep and broad enough to take my iPhone 4s in its Opt Silicone Armor iPhone case, and the carabiner on the bottom of it clips nicely onto those D-rings. They also make good attachment points for my paracord lanyard.

Two hand pockets, come in where you might normally expect them, and also feature a deep (two knuckle) coin pocket, which is probably sufficient to hold a pistol magazine, if that's your thing.

The thigh cargo flap pockets sitting mid-thigh passed my favourite test, they fit my iPad1, but more importantly, feature with hidden dual-button closure, with drain hole grommets. I put these to a good solid test at The Stampede and can report not only did I NOT scoop up pocketfuls of mud, but the water that I took on rapidly drained away. and Thru Slot. You can see the length of fabric ending with a D-loop poking over the top of the iPad here. This sits inside the cargo pocket, letting you secure items, but it doesn't stop there. On the seam-edge of the cargo lid flap, is a cutaway gap, allowing you to feed items into, or have them slung out of the pocket! Cables, cord and tubes, oh my! I thought I had torn the stitching, and was thrilled to see it was a feature. Awesome!

On the backside, the two rear flap pockets feature the same hidden dual button closures as the thigh Cargo pockets, which not only means your gear stays in, but the wilderness stays out! I don't often use my seat-pockets, having a bony ass, so being able to button-up and forget is a great option for me.

One really exciting feature that I only noticed after washing them inside out was the two hidden passport pockets on the rear inside, hanging off the back of the flap pockets, to hold your personal documents discretely: passports, tickets, visas, whatever. They aren't waterproof , so be advised you'd need to wrap whatever you stuff in there, but a great option to have when traveling in unpleasant places.

All the buttons are affixed with nylon webbing with bartack stitching for greater staying power and quick repair out and about, rather than being sewn directly to the pants. The fittings are all plastic, making these, when combined with a nylon belt buckle seen on the 5.11 TDU belt, make these an airport safe pair of pants! I "go commando" and they are very nice to wear, the gusseted crotch, and clean seams really coming to the fore there.

Probably the best thing I can say about these shorts are how well they fared in some pretty rough conditions. The Stampede mud-run may have only lasted two hours, but I was climbing over logs, crawling through mud and rocks, running through ponds and mud-pits, and they just shook it all off.

Have a look at the picture and tell me what you think. If I hadn't wanted to wear them to work, I think I could have just hit them with a stick a few times and knocked the dust off. They dried off SO quickly, that the only reason I was damp was what I was wearing under them.

Totally worth the investment!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Platatac 5x12Ga shingle

Here is another accessory that I picked up for "the Great Tactical Corset Project" as I mentioned in a previous post, and as such, I have collected a few more pouches, specifically unusual ones, and in black, to help fit out my partners with kit, to see what fits, and how they would like to kit-up their rigs.

I wanted to give them a range of odd and unusual pouches and accessories, so they could see what was available, and tailor their loadout for hands-free goodness.

This is the Horizontal 5x 12Guage shotgun shell shingle, one such example, which I picked up at Platatac's miscellaneous pouch collection. (Do pop in to see the guys there, tell them your ideas, needs and what you are intending to be doing and they will sort you right out without giving you the hard-sell on things you don't want.)

 Made of the same 1000d Cordura that is synonymous with both MilSpec gear, and the Platatac range, this piece is no exception. The wide webbing that makes up the functional part of this shingle is no exception. It gave me no impression of being feebly stitched, nor stretching out of shape when stuffed with highlighters, markers or any other non-12Ga shell item that I have tried it with.

The back of the shingle features a single PALS strip, with a single MOLLE loop to feed it onto your gear. I thing a 2:1 loop with the built in PALS strip is totally a secure enough connection, especially given the relatively light load it would be expected to bear.

Here is a quick shot of the shingle with some things I had laying about loaded into it. Some markers, and a cylume stick. This should give you some idea of what kinds of used you can put it to, and an idea of scale. This is a really nice little piece, I've worn it on my belt to carry some light gear when out and about, and expect to will be put to good use on the Tactical Corsets.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Platatac 3x 40mm Pouch

Here is a nice accessory pouch that I collected along the way, as part of a project to make my own DIY Tactical Corset. It appears that the original Maker is somewhat AWOL, so, I'm glad I decided to make some myself. Both my partners Omega and Anastasia love their corsets, so I didn't have to convince either of them much to assist (as long as I got my own materials, and didn't use THEIR nice corsets). What does this have to do with a 40mm grenade pouch you ask? Well, the girls needed pouches to fit their corsets, and I wanted to get them a range of sizes and shapes, but as you may have noticed, almost all my current suite of pouches are in khaki or Multicam. A trip to Platatac, and a rummage through their miscellaneous pouch drawers came up with some great finds. This triple pouch panel was one such piece. The corsets are still to come, but we've managed to put some of the pouches to good use already. 
Like Gunny Highways says:" Adapt, innovate, overcome". That's also our motto here at Apocalypse Equipped. Much like the twin 40mm pouches I covered a while back which I use to store gloves, surgical mask, antiseptic gel and spray, and a stuff-sack duffel-bag on my Young Guns battle-belt. Nothing goes to waste. Everything serves double duty. In this case, Two of the pouches are each filled with 8m fast-cord bundled paracord in safety-orange, one of my "always on hand" items when we go out clubbing...

One of the things you can see here is that as in the twin 40mm pouches, the flaps are adjustable to suite the length of the item stored (good for HEDP, ILLUM and most less than lethal rounds, pyrotechnics and Small Distraction Devices) as well as irregular sized alternate loads like I use them for. The higher you pull the flap, the hook-field becomes more or less apparent, to adjust to the size of the load being carried.

1000d Cordura and heavily stitched as with all the Platatac kit, these feature hook-and-loop only fixtures,and affix with the usual integral PALS/MOLLE strips I've come to expect from Platatac gear. The two channel/three loop horizontal rig gives a really sturdy attachment, and the MOLLE strips clearly show their reinforcing.

All in all, this was a great little accessory to add to my collection, I've put it to good use, and look forwards to being able to show off the Tactical Corsets I build for my partners, fitted out with pouches like these!

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