Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: SORD hoodie

A friend of mine asked if I had checked out SORD Australia, which since its inception in 2004, has made tactical kit with a slogan of "Innovation, not imitation". Initially, my friend had asked me about my opinions of their packs, but what caught my eye were some of the other items in their catalog.

I contacted them and got in touch with their sales manager, who was kind enough to send a couple of items my way to look over. This is the first of those pieces. This is the self-depreciatingly named "Hoodie" by SORD Australia.

Constructed from a lightweight softface material as an alternative to the rest of their line of classic hardface constructed jackets and apparel.

The material itself has a really interesting texture, being four-way stretch, and has a padded feel, not unlike the feel of a 3mm wetsuit. The surface repels water spray and light rain, being a softface, and was pretty resistant to the day to day grime I find myself being smeared in (Thanks Triceratops Girl and Tactical Baby).

The first thing I noticed other than the material, was the simple cut of the garment. This is a no nonsense, no frills, no raised-eyebrows top. The lines were smooth and simple. It had no loop-fields for patches, a single simple logo and unobtrusive and silent zipper pulls.

The hood was a pretty good fit, a touch shallower than that of my Platatac Hary 1.2 Softshell jacket but was still a good fit, even with all this hair. Two paracord drawstrings with simple cord-locks gave the hood some adjustability, and a short zipper also added some comfort room when donning or doffing the jacket.

The kangaroo pocket on the chest sits up nice and high , to stay out of the way of any bending and off the bounce when you are moving about and has another of the cord-fed zippers, for silent operation. The pouch itself was made of the same overall material as the rest of the jacket, and blended right in visually when not in use. It was -just- big enough to stuff in my iPad Air fully, in a pinch, but did cradle it quite nicely. It would be perfect for documents, a map, snacks or other needfuls that you wanted high and tight on your person.

Two hand warming pockets at the front are a welcome addition, seams blending in with the lines of the jacket and fading away when not needed.Having these are a great feature, especially as I am the kind of person who thinks having warm hands makes me an effective survivor.... The wrist cuffs gave me options to cinch in the sleeves to keep the weather out, or let me have some more breathing room. I found I needed this, not because I was cold, quite the opposite, this is a warm jacket. Given that December in Melbourne varies between 15C and 40C, I liked having something light I could throw on, stay dry in our showers but not bake too much in.
Here's were it gets interesting. at each flank a zipper runs up about half way. This not only improves your donning/doffing of the jacket, but also adds the additional feature of giving you clear access to not only items on your belt, on either side, but items worn under the jacket.

Getting access to your kit, especially when you are buttoned down to stay out of the weather, out of the cold, or just away from prying eyes is a real boon.

With the flick of a wrist, or a hooked finger, the zipper slips up, revealing your side, and access to all your belt-borne goodies.

I found that the sides being open also assisted me with my heat management, all the while allowing me access, or the security of secreting, my Hazard4 EDC harness with all my goodies, till I needed them.

The real benefit from these side zips however would definitely be access to items on your belt. Be that a holster, sheathe or pouches, these are perfectly placed to access all manner of goodies.

The cut of the hoodie also seemed to cope very nicely with my selection of items. A Platatac FUP pouch and the on-loan Boker-American Kami Colubris Mid-Tech simply vanished in the folds below my arms.

I thought my Hazard4 Loader RG harness holster, filled with my EDC gear would be too much bulk for the SORD hoodie to manage, but not only does it zip up and over the whole lot without a struggle, a quick pull and flip gives me access to all my kit, be it keys, lights or wallet.

I was really pleased with this garment, not only with its technical performance, but the thought that went into making a simple, effective and inconspicuous piece of midwear. Now if only it wasn't so hot, I'd get to wear it more. I'll put it away for a few months and get back to it.

I look forwards to showing you all other items from SORD too.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Home Front: Cherry Harvest

This past solstice weekend, I took my whole family up to a cherry orchard, and we spent an hour or so, three adults, and late teen and two little ones, running about, foraging and feeding, till we had 10 kg of cherries picked, (and who knows how many eaten in the process).

This particular orchard was selling them at $10/kg so whilst we did spend a lot, it was massively less than the $20-$30/kg that they are, at the shops currently.

This is my partner Anstia helping Triceratops Girl collecting cherries (from every ladder they came across).
We aimed to take only the good fruit, and as few stalks as possible, because that sped up the prepping time later on, but does also speed up the rotting process (its an open wound ...).

Here is a bowl full of this years harvest, served chilled on a 30oC evening. However, 10 kg (22lbs) of any fresh produce is a lot of organic matter for even a tribe like mine to consume, especially a rich a source as these cherries were. So, it was time to can and jam!

My family (mothers side) is Danish, so we celebrate a Danish Giftmas, on the 24th, and one of my favourite deserts is the dark cherry soup, Kirsebærsuppe. We used 4 kg of cherries to make a giant pot of the soup, which left us with 2L (0.5gal) of leftover soup, which we jarred up hot in an old olive jar.

I wanted to try a few other ways of preserving the cherries, without making jam (we have the last two seasons of fruit windfalls as jam still and are just finishing off jars from the first year we did it. Some went into the duck-stuffing for example).
We candied (boiling in 1:1 sugar:water by mass), then dehydrated one set of pitted cherries. This worked out really well and we filled two trays of my dehydrator with them, and two jam-jars as a result.

I also preserved a jar's worth in simple syrup (which has a terrible leaking habit, seemed to bypass the seals on its jars every time I make it). These were unpitted and I expect them to take a while to candy up, and slowly leach flavour into the syrup.

Here's a side-by-side of the cherry soup,  beside the one of the jars of pitted cherries in Glögg. Glögg is a spiced, sweetened red wine (in this case) with an alcohol content of 12% vol which always seems to have more kick that expected. Perfect for preserving fruit and will make for a welcome treat come winter.

We used the similar sized olive jars as for the soup, and filled them with the pitted cherries, followed by a 750mL bottle of Glögg in each. Perfect size!

A welcome side effect from doing the candied cherries was that the syrup that remained was infused with the cherry juices that cooked out, and I was not going to let THAT go to waste. So, we found some swing top bottles that I had been keeping (always prepared), and funneled it in.

This home made cordial was almost black, it was such a dark red, and tastes amazing diluted with water, soda water and poured over ice-cream. I imagine I will make use of it in constructing boozy cocktails in the near future.

All of these preservation methods (candying, pickling, canning in syrup and reducing to cordial) are all super simple, cheep and will result in a long lasting commodity and resource, for trade, and off-season boosts to our table.

Lots of preppers recommend having tradable items, and this is a great example of one we're only too happy to produce and stock.

Here's the one tool that made the whole job SO much easier (and praise be my partner Omega, who used it to such effect). A cherry pitter!

This little tool took so much trouble out of de-stoning the 8kg or so of cherries we needed pitted. If you plan on doing a big load of cherries, you would do well to pick one or two of these up. Here's a cool link for a person who made their own!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Home Front: candle powered convection heater

Here is a little trick that I saw and wanted to share it with you all. The good folks at Natural Cures Not Medicine posted this, and I was forwarded it by a few people when it did the rounds on Facebook. Now, I'm all in favor of natural and alternative treatments and traditional wisdom, but as Tim Minchen said, in "Storm"  ... ""By definition", I begin, "Alternative Medicine", I continue,"Has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call 'alternative medicine' that's been proved to work? Medicine...."
Ikea GLIMMA unscented tealight candles

So, that aside .... here is the very cool trick.

Through the use of tea-light candles, which are pretty ubiquitous, two clay flower pots, which are even more ubiquitous and a cake tin it is possible to make a very simple radiant space hater. Obviously, as with any fire you will be wanting to do this in a ventilated area, carbon monoxide is not your friend. 

By placing one pot over the other, with the candle inside, you create a space that not only traps the radiant heat of the candle, as it heats up the inner pot, but all that heat is not only stored in that inner pot, but due to the air space between the two pots, convection takes hold and you get more bang for your buck. The cake tin gives you a stable, fireproof base,  allows you to move the rig once lit, and also provides a venting space for the candle to "breathe".

Cool air flows via the open top of the cake tin the two sets of nested posts are resting on, and between the base of the outer pot over and around the inner pot, then up through the drain holes and up into your room. This action not only draws heat from the inner pot heat-sink, but also moves that air through the room, spreading out all that heat more efficiently than a stand alone candle like a passive fan. 

The tea light candles are just a convenient size, cheep and plentiful but any candle that fits in the pots you use would do. 

Here's the original YouTube clip in the article, demonstrating the heater in effect.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Tactical Keychain - TiKeY key holder

In order to try to maintain some discipline with my EDC keychain, I was pleased to back the third Kickstarter project by Brad of Tactical Keychains. What he offered was a fully customisable key-keeper, specifically designed to fit hit fabulous WTF tool. I've had awesome dealings with Brad, not only getting some pre-release items, but also the down-low on the Ti maker community.

Not only does Brad make cool things, but he also offers a great deal of "artistic control" to his backers, with a variety of anodisation options for all his builds, and updates from his machine shop.
The idea behind the TiKeY is that it gives you a milled billet G5 titanium, Quick-Flip means of storing your keys, avoiding the jing-jangle, or "I landed on my keys" thigh injuries. I have always seemed to have a janitors keychain worth of keys, not to mention my ever increasing keychain-tool collection

I opted for the deluxe version, with both the countersunk "pockets" for grip and dropping the weight, and countersunk bolt-holes, to let me jam a little bit more in, along with longer screws for the same reason. I also opted in for several additional elements, the TiFoRk, with its three-tined pointy Ti utility, for those times when the last mussel in the tin is eluding me in the bunker, I have been really impressed with its simple efficacy. I also opted in for the lanyard loop, the simple guitar pic shaped loop, giving me a means of attaching my TiKeY to my larger set (yes, I am aware of the irony here).

I also have a prototype "BottlePik", can/bottle opener which Brad was kind enough to send my way. This ergonomic little Ti blade features a chisel ground two-edged cutting surface, as well as a 1/4" hex driver and a lanyard loop at the tail end, as well as the 1/4" measuring notches that both the WTF and the sides of the TiKeY feature.

Lastly, I have the prototype TiPiK on mine, separate to the full set I have (review to follow).

Here is a shot of the BottlePik in use, which shows off how the TiKeY fits in the hand. At 3.5" x 1" the key holder fits in the palm very nicely, and the 1/4" ruler notches, along with the recessed pockets gives it a very controllable grip.

With the two different sizes of screws available, the TiKeY can accommodate 4-10 keys (4-8, 6-10), with the countersunk wells giving even more room. the corrosion resistant spring washers give you a snug fit to the contents, without being stiff, or grinding. The included plastic tubing can be cut into gap-filling lengths (ive used two different lengths to ensure my TiKeY is spaced the way I like

You might ask "why is how you keep your keys of any importance in a disaster situation, how is it relevant?"

No jingles, for one thing, this greatly reduces the jingle-bell chime of my keys. It also allows you to have a mini-tool kit on hand, safe and secreted. Much like a pocket knife, the items you can put into a TiKeY are only limited by a loop-hole, and your

Hot Brad up if you want one, via


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: American Kami - Super Colubris knife

I really splurged recently, before I realised I needed to replace my old vehicle (woops) when I saw that DJ Urbanovsky of American Kami was offering a series of his knives that had been dinged up in the grinding process, as <B>eater blades. Basically they had slight cosmetic blemishes, but were fully functional, for a significant discount. Perfect!

I had seen the American Kami blades as a Soldier System sneak peak, following on from an amazing piece on some axes he has made I was thrilled to have this piece arrive, and get to using it.
What really keyed me onto this one was the crossover in design between a chefs knife, and a combat knife. I go-to kitchen knife till now has been my Global 14cm Vegetable knife and their 20cm Chef's knife just for reference. Ok, perhaps its a thin line of reasoning, but this is an awesome addition to my collection in any regards. So, here's what I can tell you about it.

The 15cm (6″) blade is crafted from CPM S35VN (the same company produces the CPMD2 steel in the SAR ODDjob knife). The Super Colubris features a tumble over heat treat finish, which gives a lovely finish as well as a great edge. This model offers a modified droptip and is 27cm (10.5”) in overall length.

The Super Colubris comes with a very nice kydex sheath, with eyelets, and is fitted out with an interesting gutted paracord lanyard system, which DJ covers in this clip of the smaller American Kami Colubris "mid-tech" knife in his safety briefing and preferred carry method video.

 From this angle you can see the two sets of three finger gripping crenelations on the spine, these feel great on the thumb, or the webbing of the hand when holding it by the bolster when being all chefy.

The G10 scales I requested are coyote brown, and feature deeply engraved "American Kami" motifs which acts as a grippy texture, without being rough on the hand. The handle itself features three prominent recessed hollow bolts, as well as a lanyard hole at the butt end, give a number of lashing options.

Being a "beater", my Super Colubris has some misgrinds on the omote side of the blade. This was part of the package of getting one of these blades at a much reduced rate, making it an affordable extravagance. You can see the deep gouges on the back where the spine and false edge meet. There is also some surface scarring on the flat of the blade. None of this has had any affect on the performance of the blade, at least not with the kind of use and abuse I expect to put it through.

With a light hacking, slashing action, I produced a number of deep penetrations in this pumpkin. Stabbing thrusts were equally as effective.

Not wanting to leave the more practical aspects out, here's a few passes of me using the Super Colubris to slice up said pumpkin. One handed and at an oblique angle, this set my dinner up nicely.

With its very well made kydex sheath, lanyard retention system, the Super Colubris is not only a very nice knife in the hand, but gives every impression of being a long lasting, heavy hitting, but controllable tool to have to hand. I am going to see about rigging it to my belts and rigs with one of the RTI G-Code wheels or a Tek Lok system.

Either way this is a really nice piece, and I'm very pleased with it in all its less-than-perfect glory. Now to save up for a Type 14 Bearded ManiAxe ....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: SAR GlobalTool - ODDjob knife

My buddy Spencer of SAR Global Tool has been busy grinding away at his workbench, adding to his collection of edged tools. Check out his Facebook page, to see the amazing reclaimed file and rasp Bowie knives project, and the ever lustful Inglorious Basterds blades.

You may well remember the SAR Global Tool Micro Elite signal disks, the ever popular Moon-Glow signal disks (I have worn mine around my neck for so long the SOLAS tape has worn off, that's saying something!), the fabulous and devilishly popular with the ladies Dead Ringer Ti comb, and the Dog-Tag Eclipse signal system and the even sneakier bladed version.

Now I have one of his awesome pointies.

This is the ODDjob knife, a 1" x 5" little blade made of  1/4" thick CPMD2 steel. This exotic steel has been treated to HRc 59-60 and stone tumbled to give a beautiful satin finish.

Usually featuring a drop point, simple edge,  but Spencer picked out this very nice recurved one for me, because he knows me well. The thinned down blade makes for an excellent pairing knife, just my style.The edge is keen, and easily controlled, even with its unusual curves.

Along with the individually fitted Kydex scabbard, with its six eyelets for lanyard or screw fitting to gear, this little knife was fitted with a really clever para-cord "Always Open" lanyard loop, a particular invention of Spencer's which utilises heat-shrink tubing to pinch the paracord into a loop, giving a pinkie-hooking structure to grip and deply the blade with a quick tug, whilst remaining unobtrusive.

If I wear this knife behind my ID badge lanyard right, only the loop pokes out. Ready for all those odd jobs. The handle features brown canvas micarta scales, cross cut to show off that spectacular grain. and with inlaid signalling mirrors. This was a delightful extra Spencer threw in for me, as the regular ODDjob's are just naked steel.

With the finger notches textured scale and the finger loop, this little knife fits nicely in my hands, aided by the light crenelations on the spine.

I really like the blade geometry, and the uniqueness of the whole piece. If you can score one, when Spencer (and now Scott, too) are at the grinders, they' be well suited to adding to your utility collection.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review: Strike Industries - SHOX iPhone 5 case

It's no great secret that I am a big phone freak. Since writing this blog, I've covered my iPhone 4S cases, namely the OPT silicone-armor case, a Maxpedition iPhone pouch, the feature rich Snow Llizard-SLXtreme "ruggedized" case, the hunter-friendly Griffin "mossy-oak" Survivor case as well as my most recent addition, the Strike Industries Battle-case (on top in this picture).

 When Strike industries sent me the 4S compatible Battle Case, they also kindly sent me their newest, 5/5S compatible case, the Battle Case Shox  and accessory pack!
 The most exciting part about the SHOX case, apart from having the same grippy, textured thermoplastic polyurethane material, is that the SHOX has built in shock absorbing springs built into the corners! Beveled lips hold the phone snugly in place, and keep the sides dust free.

The springs add a certain bulk to the corners of the phone, which I have found to be quite an exceptional addition, as it means that the speakers are off-set, and when held, are not blocked by the edge or heel of my palm. A built in sound reflector adds to that, without expanding the dimensions further. They also add a nub to grip on, increasing the retention capabilities of this case. Power and volume buttons are permanently protected, but accessible through the case.

The lines of those spring bumpers are combined with the finger loop, which as in the original Battle Case, provide a tremendous advantage for drawing the phone from a pocket or pouch, as well as retaining it in the hand, by carabiner or lanyard. Unlike the Original Battle Case, this loop is at the "top" rather than the "bottom" of the phone.

This case lacks the honeycomb macro-texture of the original, but instead features ridges, as well as bevels around an internal storage area, large enough to fit a couple of credit card sized objects.

These are accessible via a slot on the side, and visible through a window in the middle of the case. Both the window and the opening slot act as heat vents, I've found, especially useful when the phone is dash-mounted in my vehicle. The camera opening is wide enough to accommodate all the sensors and flash easily, reducing back-scatter considerably. 

Looking inside the case you can see that it has additional internal structure to add to the padding and protection that the semi-rigid polyurethane offers. I have also been using the clear plastic camera guard, which is included in the "plugs accessory set" and sits in an insert holder.  The other accessory plugs have been too much trouble for my day to day use, but for dust-proofing, look like would all serve their purpose ideally, except the sound-reflector cover, which I couldn't get to sit in the case correctly.

All in all, this is an excellent case, and my iPhone 5S is happily encased, protected and secure. I noted that several "third-party" Lightning plugs were too wide to fit, but a quick pass with the Dremel sorted that right out.

Also, for those that complained last time, Strike Industries now stock a Samsung S4 Active version and for the candy-coloured wolves out there, a iPhone 5C version as well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: Excel Physics - APOC mini radiation detector

I'm a scientist by training and inclination, if no longer by profession. I love measuring things. My phone has all manner of measuring and mapping apps.

When I saw on Kickstarter that a pocket-sized radiation detector was coming up, I was thrilled. Following on from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami,
and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, it seemed that having my own gamma and high energy x-ray detector would be a great addition to my burgeoning toolkit.

The APOC Mini Radiation Detector Kickstarter fit that bill perfectly. The people of Excel-Physics put together a very compact, and easy to use package, which they offered in kit, or "built" forms. Being  pretty much devoid of electronics experience, I opted for the "built" kit.

When it arrived, I was delighted to find a very robust package, with a couple of connector cable, and a bridge component (which came in handy, as I needed to add it to make the device iPhone compatible.)
The clear plexi-case allows you to see right into the device, the circuit-board, wiring, batter pack, speaker and LED indicators, along with the copper-foil covered detector.

It features both a human readable LED/ speaker setup, with blinks and a "click" for each measured event, as well as a "data" setting that feeds to a device via a 3.5mm mic jack.

A simple Off/On/Data switch lets you change between settings, and on the other side, the data-port for the data cable. Access to in innards ( to change the 9V battery, or to adjust the sensitivity, if needed, is by unscrewing four little screws.

A cut-away on the bottom (in classic radiation trefoil format) gives a nice accent to the detector array.

I connect my detector up to my iPhone, using several apps, (Spectrogram and iOS7 Voice Memos) to track the "clicks", although I am waiting on a purpose built app to be put out by Excel Physics ...

Primarily a gamma and x-ray detector, it will also detect alpha particles (such as found in household smoke detectors) but can pick up interference from Bluetooth devices, according to Excel Physics. The old brick building I work on gives me more background clicks than the even older weatherboard I live in, as expected.

I have used this at home, and been pleased to see the LED flash every minute and a half, or so with its characteristic "click", but wanted to give it a real test, so took the whole lot into work, and visited the Diagnostic Imaging / Radiology department, and spoke to my pals in the "hot lab". They were bemused at the idea I had my own personal radiation detector, so were happy to point me at some "sources" to scan.

So, as you can see, I had a lot of fun with it. Between the rather rapidly decaying medical radionuclides and the strong but slow long half life Cs137 we got some great signals. I'm still trying to work out the best way to record and display the signals I get, but at least I have a portable, cheep to run detector for all my Mad Max water testing needs!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Events: Two years!

Two years ago, one of my lovely partners, Omega said I should start blogging about all the gear I had been collecting. It had been a whiles since I had done any writing,and I thought I would give it a shot.

For a while I worried about Impostor syndrome, as unlike many of my peers in the blogoshpere, I have never had military service, or LE service. I'm not a paramedic, firefighter, SES worker  nor any kind of professional hero. I'm just a guy, who likes camping, MilSim roleplay and has lived an exciting life in exciting places.  I feel the weight of your scrutiny heavily, and just stick to my guns, knowing that I have an opinion, have critical thinking, and a message to spread.

 I started this blog, in the beginning, with my manifesto such as it was, that I would cover gear, situations, preparation and the mentality of becoming "Apocalypse Equipped". Not with any clear suggestion of impending doom, but rather, "what if...?"

I'm not overly concerned about any given event, I don't really consider myself a conspiracy theorist, or any more connected to the data, but instead, I like to take my day to day life, and see if I can improve it, to suit the tumultuous world around us.

100 posts in, I did a recap, and again at 300 posts (This. Is. BRIGHTON). I was pretty excited when I clocked over at 100,000 page views,  and am constantly amazed at my daily, weekly and monthly  tally of hits.

I owe a lot of thanks to the fine folks who have supported me, either big companies who have sent me gear to review, or individual kit-makers who have cut me a sweet deal, and even just the folks in-store who have been kind enough to hear me out when I've asked "I want to put 'this' into 'that', and be able to hang upside-down ...." or let me guest-post on their blogs.

Last month was my best-tracking month yet, and I had a very gratifying connection with someone who has directly benefited from reading, so I hope that I can keep up the interest, as well as keep on top of my own prepping, and writing!

It's going to be a hot, dry summer here, so I'm sure I'll have lots of inspiration.

Stay safe, Ready For Anything!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Hazard4 labs - Poncho Villa

With the fickle Melbourne weather, the prospect of being caught out in the rain in the afternoon, following a bright sunny day is all too common. Wearing a coat is all good and well, but can be a bit of overkill day to day. I have kept a poncho in my bags for years, for this very reason.

When I saw that Hazard4 Gear had produced a modern, fully featured and rugged poncho, I was all over it, and just had to wait for it to go into production, from early rumors and show-demos.

This is the Poncho Villa, a sombrero-tip to the prominent Mexican Revolutionary general, Pancho Villa.
I finally managed to get my act together to order one (along with the Ventrapack admin case and the LaunchPad iPad sleeve.) I was not disappointed.

This poncho is a far cry from the crinkly vinyl or shopping0bag style plastic material of others I've used, instead being constructed from a sturdy water-resistant/breathable soft-shell fabric, (86% polyester 14%spandex), with 4 way stretch, and a polyester lining layer.

It features fully-taped seams that are reported to be 100% waterproof, and rugged enough to be used over and over without splitting or tearing, let alone leaking when you need it least.

I was really impressed with the design and the additional features that really make this a technical garment, and not just a plastic bag with a head hole.

Loop fields on the shoulders give you a large unit ID display area (and the cut is such that it falls nicely, and prominently. I have my large Z.E.R.T. 702 shield here, to give you an idea of scale. There are also two much larger panels, for "agency style" patches, as well as a panel on the back of the hood. Lots of ID infrastructure there. I liked the CHEF patch from my new BBQ apron ....

 The hood itself houses some great features. Cinches are found at the base of the skull, and two at the throat, offering quite the variety of adjustment. All three cinches are concealed behind hook-and-loop panels, to ensure snag free operation, and the cord-locks are sewn into the garment, to give even more control. 

As well as having a hook-and-loop closure, the chin panel also has a hefty zipper, which really makes the whole poncho button up tight. 

On top of that, the sides each have two press-stud snaps, to prevent it flapping about and keeping you extra dry, as well as there being large grommets at each of the four corners. Each of these are heavily reinforced and independently stitched in, no more torn eyelets when using a poncho as a bivvy!

Between the modern materials, and the clever tailoring, both the introduction of the loop-fields and the cinches, as well as the jacket-like fit of the shoulders, this is a great improvement in design over the original versions.

But wait, there is more!

That big pocket on the chest, under the front loop-filed, is big enough to happily store my iPad, and a bunch of other items, kangaroo style, and features dual hook-and-loop closures (although I was a little disappointed to see these in black and not colour matched as all the others had been). The pocket also features a single, double sided zipper. Double sided? I hear you ask...

The kargaroo pouch doubles as a storage pocked to fold the entire poncho up into!

When self-stuffed, the outside features this descriptive info sheet, but is normally hidden away inside the pouch it becomes. The bag in this format has a lanyard anchor loop for hanging, and a drainage grommet for ventilation.

When stuffed into its bag, it measures 30cm, (12"), 24cm (9") by15cm (6"), but this can be compressed a fair amount. Bulky, but not a big issue. It also makes a great pillow!

I wore it camping, I've worn it in the rain, and in the wind. Its very comfortable and not at ALL like wearing a plastic bag.

With the hood up you have excellent coverage, although I found the material of the hood was a very strong sound insulator.

The fit of the poncho was excellent. I'm a very tall critter, at 193cm (6'4"), with extra long arms, and I get very good coverage in the rain.

All that coverage also gives the poncho another useful characteristic. It allows you to throw it on over a pack and not only cover the pack, but also maintaining the shelter for my legs. Even when wearing a pack OVER the poncho, there was very little loss of coverage, except for about the forarm-to-elbow area.

I really like this garment, and almost look forwards to the spring rains we are seeing the ends of. Summer trains will be an adventure. Even autumn and winter rains will be less arduous with this.

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