Monday, April 29, 2013

Wish Lust: Kickstarter Cole-Bar

So, I've been hitting Kickstarter pretty hard again (there will be some more re-previews of cool projects coming up), and I struck a deal with the folks behind this bad-assed tool to see if I could drum up some more interest for them.  This is the Cole-Bar multifunction hammer.

CNC milled from a block of steel, the hammer has a serious industrial look to it, but it is a lot more than just a hard looking claw hammer.

It's a claw hammer with a full crow bar built in!

The production model includes a rubberised grip on the hammer side of the shaft.

The straight edges are inch-maked for use as a ruler (although having it in metric too would be a good addition, I'll put that out there)

Using a patented locking gear mechanism, the Cole-Bar can be opened and extended from 0 to 180 degrees and locked into place at 15 degree increments.

As well as making an angled too, this also makes the tool a protractor, and set-square for all you equipped  masons out there

The locking gear is connected by a
standard 1/2" drive which lets you use the Cole-Bar as a socket wrench.
Further more, that same 1/2" drive  the Cole-Bar can be separated with a button release turning it into a set of demolition tools.

I'm looking forwards to comparing this to my Stanley FUBAR and Dead-On Superhammer

Claw hammer, full sized crow bar, socket wrench, ruler, set-square and protractor this is a truly multifunction tool, that I am proud to get behind ....  Now to get it over the line, and into my paws to hammer and pry!

Get to backing, hopefully you can get one too...

edit: Brandon just sent me some renders of the finished product, which Kickstarter wouldn't allow ... get a peek here, FIRST!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: OpsCore style bump helmet

Here's another item that falls into my laser-tag/MILSIM collection that spills over into my equippedness kit.

I'll get it out there right away, that this is an OPSCORE style knockoff. If the good folks at Ops-Core want to send me the real deal, I'm all for that, but right now, this will do me.

I really wanted to get a helmet that I could mount my Contour GPS cam to directly, as both the sticker and hat-rigged rail methods I've tried haven't been overly comfortable when doing a 20km mud-run or two
but I had a good expereicne with the helmet-cam's at IRL-Shooter: Patient Zero so I wanted to go that route.

What you can see here is the side rails, mimicking the ACH-ARC Kit to which I have fitted a proper Ops-Core Picatinny rail adapter, on top ow which I have mounted my Strikemark Contour Cam adapter. The ACH-ARC Kit and the FAST Helmet rails facilitate all manner of accessory attachment, from lights, to a face-plate armour, goggle straps and headsets.

I have a Manta strobe mounted by a sticky loop-field, because when I am out adventuring, I want to be able to be found if i get washed out to sea, fall in a heap, or whatever.

The front of the helmet has a VAS_Shroud mount where I could fix NVG or the like, if I had that kind of rig. Currently I am sporting a  KayRank Tactical helmet rank plate by Jerald Kubicek.  I wear that rank plate for roleplaying purposes only, I don't hold this rank in any official capacity (and more power to all the real E-7's).

Inside the helmet are a set of adjustable pads, with hook-fields stuck around the inside to allow custom fitting.  The chin and head straps follow the H-nape style  and gave me a pretty secure fit, once I adjusted it to sit on my head, and policed my hair with a HeadSox tube.

Once I had, it was pretty comfortable, I have taken it out kayaking, running on my Sky-Walker kangaroo legs, and lazer-tagging. I will be not only be wearing it for all my adventuring in the future to stave off bumps and knocks, (but as it it only a rigid polypropylene plastic, and not something I'd trust my life and health to.

It is not a substitute for a bike-helmet, or in any way or shape ballistic protection, but will save my noggin from crawling around under pipes and beams. The ends of the bolts that affix the rails and straps poke in the helmet about 1/4" and i think that could do with some grinding down, too, for safety.

Otherwise, a fun addition to my kit a great place to mount my cam, lights and gear, oh, and somebody wake up Hicks.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Condor Combat - Nomex gloves

I've been trolling eBay to find new exciting things to add to my collection, and one such bargain arose in the form of these Condor Combat Nomex & Leather gloves. I tend to destroy or lose gloves, so having another set on hand (huyk huyk) is a very good idea, as Winter is Coming here in Melbourne.

I've covered some rugged gloves in the past, but those are pretty much dedicated work gloves. I have long thin hands, and when it come to outdoors gloves, getting a good fit is difficult sometimes. The span of my hand tends to tear out the thumb/forefinger seam, so having a well put together glove that fits is also something I'm always looking for.

Constructed from the fire-resistant NOMEX fabric with premium goat leather highlights and reinforcement sections, one of the really interesting features is the dual-layer construction. The long sleeve of the inner layer rides up to about the mid forearm, meaning that it will tuck under a jacket, or over a shirt, giving a full "no-exposed-skin" cover. Is is great n the cold and wet, but essential when exposed to fire: be it flash, sustained or whatever. The outer hand-sized layer is stitched tot he inner, and features fully leather lined palms, and a elastic hook-and-loop closing wrist cuff. The knuckles, finger tips and trigger-finger digit knuckle are also leather reinforced.

I used them whilst chopping and hauling a load of firewood, and then later on when tending the bonfire and spitroast I did over the weekend. Not only did the long sleeve give me abrasion protection, and keep both my hands and wrists burn-free, the leather highlights also include a large padded section on the heel of the palm. This perfectly matches with padding needed when using a repetitive percussive tool.....

For me, that is mostly wood chopping with an axe, hammering or sword-work doing scrub clearing. For others, perhaps slinging hot lead.

These are a really nice set of gloves. They seem warm, without being hot, they have good coverage, solid construction and fit really well. I look forwards to waring these for all my outdoors cooking, chopping and strolling.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Zombie Outbreak - Trekker pack

Here is the second of the Zombie Outbreak packs that I was sent by Global Gear, a follow up of the Hydro-Bugout pack  I reviewed a little while ago.

This time it is a slightly larger and feature rich pack, the Trekker.

The first thing that struck me about this pack was the range of attachment points, it is simply covered in PALS/MOLLE loops, loop-fields, shock-cord loops, and that is before you even get to the compartments.

Made of the same cordura-like fabric as the Hydro-Bugout, one of the things that I noted with this pack was the significantly better stitching and finishing. The MOLLE loops were even and cleanly spaced, the loop fields were heat-sealed and the webbing was all seated much better.

I gave this one a bit of a workout at a recent indoor lazer-tag event, where i loaded it up with my gear, change of clothes, bottle and the like.

This 30L, 33cm  13"(W) x 53cm (21") x 13cm (5") pack is backed with a breathable mesh and features contoured shoulder straps with both D-rings and webbing loops for attaching accessories. The adjustable pectoral strap will slide up and down a fair way to give you a comfortable carry, and the webbing all mounts to the pack by secure looking construction. 

I liked that the drag-strap poked through the opening of the front flap, and was mounted to the back, rather than the top of the pack, it gave me better balance when picking the pack up, I felt.

The front of the pack features a very large flap, that covers over 1/2 of the front, and has a number of pocket (i'll talk about those a bit later. The whole thing covers the front of the pack, except for the interesting cut-up where the drag strap pokes out, and presumably where you could get grab-access to the internals of the pack without exposing it all, or run hydration tubes or comms lines.

From the side you can clearly see the five rows of two channel PALS/MOLLE webbing, along with the dual fastex-style buckles making up twin compression straps on the sides, allowing you to really cinch up the pack to keep it tidy.

You can also see just how far that front panel will extend, this being an unburdened and only lightly stuffed demo, if needed, that front panel could be buckled down way to the bottom of the front, giving you serious compression and packing minimalism.

I had a problem with the ends of the compression webbing coming loose and falling out of the buckles, mostly I assume because they weren't under tension, but also because of the way they were finished (a diagonal heat-cut, rather than a hemmed tab, but this was a minor inconvenience, as I didn't use them much.

The front panel features a pocket right on top,
with a "back-opening" zipper closure, and is itself topped with both a 2 row, 4 channel PALS/MOLLE field, but also a sizable loop-field for affixing patches (as I've done here with one of my TAD patches.

Below that, a zippered pocket opens up to fill the bottom of the flap. On top of that however, is an interesting addition. A shock-corded set of webbing-loops, over the top of another loop-field, and all of this is over a tube-like opening that runs horizontally below the middle set of loop-filed seen here under my "Zombie-Hunter" patch.

The whole front panel is closed and locked down by the really large buckle, which feeds through the front loops of the bottom of the pack.
Under that front flap there is another set of two-row, four channel PALS/MOLLE webbing, this time all loop-field equipped, below which are two more pockets opening up into separate compartments at the bottom of the pack.

The male section of the main front closing buckle is seen here, and this has webbing that feeds through yet another set of loop-field PALS/MOLLE straps, although these are broken up by the extra-wide buckle-strap, giving two sets of three by two loops.

The two main compartments open up beyond these.

The "front" compartment is the bigger of the two, with a full width, top to bottom space. It opens via double ended zippers, and will open all the way to the bottom when needed.You can see here the shiny backing of the fabric used throughout this pack. I don't now what it is, but it feels like some kind of thread-impregnated vinyl.

The internal materials (such as that seen in the large panel-pocket here) has a lightweight tent-feel to it.

The "back" compartment features a padded and hook-and-loop tabbed laptop compartment / hydration pouch/ plate carrier pouch.

This whole compartment only opens 3/4 of the way, ensuring that you don't spill all your needfuls, or that it is not dragged open by the weight of the forward compartment and pockets.

The twin sets of compression straps also act in your favor here, holding the pack open, whilst still giving you access, even when bulky items may hinder zipping it up.

All in all this is a decent pack. I liked the various options for mounting accessories, and the range of pockets throughout the outside, to stow smaller items, without having to open up the main compartments. The large over-flap was an interesting addition, and could almost certainly work like a beaver-tail to stow larger items.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Events: EcoXpo - Free Tickets Anyone?

 Follow up to my EcoXpo event (Friday-Sat-Sun, this week19-21-April-2013), in Melbourne..........

Dear Josh,

Thank you for registering your details for a trade pass.

As a thank you for your support, we are offering you free tickets to offer to all of your customers, clients, friends and family.

Promote this offer in your newsletter, facebook and social media. Please use the following link

The free ticket is for Friday 19 April only and valid from
10am - 9pm at the Melbourne Showgrounds, entry via Gate 5.

Thank you and we look forward to your visit.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: PM leather - Hobble Belt

I little while ago, I was making eyes at a new tactical belt that had come up in my feed, and a friend of mine, Peter Martin, of PM Leather called me on it, "why not Zoidberg?" style. I was all for it. PM Leather creates a range of bespoke leather belts, accessories and such kit. I was delighted to receive a belt tailored to my measurements, and gave it a workout. The belt arrived in black, with aluminum rivets and steel furniture.

The heavy, 38mm (1.5") wide, 3mm thick belt leather is split into three distinct regions: the buckle section, the hobble section, and the tail. This is what makes the PM Leather hobble belt something special, as far as belts go.

The tail section features punched holes all the way along its length which comes in handy when the belts second use comes into play. More on that later. The tail joins on one side to the hobble section with a double riveted fold that wraps the butt end to a squared steel "ring" hardware. This bridges the tail to the hobble-section, which is a short length of leather, itself double riveted SR each end, joining at the other side to another of the square rings, and from then, on to the buckle end. The buckle is again, of hefty steel construction, along with the keeper, giving you a sturdy set of furniture and a very clean finish. The rivets are ground down, giving a rough and ready look, with very little chance of snagging due to their low profile.

The square rings offer two very useful hard-points for attaching carabiners, key chains, and looping cords through. I constantly fixed one end of my paracord multi-tool lanyard to it, Usually on the front ring, but depending on how the belt loops of the pants or kilt I was wearing sat, or having a higher or lower profile to my outfit, this was easy to swap as needed. The square rings are occasionally too large to feed through belt-loops, so some adjustment to wear might be necessary on some clothes (skipping that loop, for example.

I was also able to mount several different PALS/MOLLE pouches to the belt, which I fixed in place by feeding twin tabs on either side of a belt loop, and fixing it through a double loop of PALS/MOLLE, given the belts 1.5" width, this made for a pretty good fit. The belt was stiff enough to not sag terribly under the 1L SIGG bottle I slung in a Platatac FUP pouch whilst strolling about.

Here is where this belt shows its darker secrets. Those square rings and the hobble-section allow you to feed the tail through to form two or three loops that give you some very interesting shackle/manacle options from an otherwise innocuous piece of clothing. You can see now why the tail-section has holes punched all the way along its length; to allow the shackles to be drawn tight one pretty much the skinniest of wrists. the excess belt feeds through the buckle and then the keeper, but as you can see above, it can even be fed into itself.

Having that middle hobble section available, also means the belt can be used to create a pillory-style binding, but wrapping it around the neck of your target, in the forwards position here, but works in reverse if the hands are behind the head.  (I can almost hear the banjos playing).

As well as working on hands and heads, the hobble belt can be used explicitly as its name suggests, as a hobble. Obviously, this is only effective when the belt isn't or can't be undone by the wearer, but then again, this wasn't designed to be a high security option. Dangling by the ankles Hoth style would probably do the trick.

As far as innocuous, cool looking and rugged goes, this is some pretty slick action right here. I like mine, and have found it to be an amusing surprise to pull out when someone might least expect it. Make sure your clothes fit well, though, before whipping it out to bind someone, pants around ankles are just as hobbling!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Upcoming Events: Convertions/Expos

What with the Camping and Caravan expo a little while back, I've been givning more though to what other conventions and expos I can get to.

Here are a couple of events I'm intending on going to which are coming up....

SHOT Show Melbourne May 25-26
Australian Warrior Expo, November, Brisbane

and here is one that is on next weekend, the EcoXpo at the Melbourne Showgrounds

A bit of a divergence, I hear you think?

Not really. To be properly equipped, one needs an awareness of the troubles one might encounter, and a variety of methods to counter, combat and overcome those troubles. That doesn't always mean Khaki and MOLLE ... sometimes it's Solar and Suppliments.

I will be attending along with one of my associates from OurEcoFuture, Tim Pietschmann who is doing a keynote presentation. Perhaps you'll be there too ...

Any other Conventions or Expo's you think I should attend?
I didn't get to go to last years Land Warfare Conference maybe next time ...

I've always wanted to get to the US SHOT Show, but that's a long way off, financially ...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: HTI Water - HydroPack

I mentioned the HTI Water systems in my recent post about the Camping and Caravan Show that I attended, but I got in touch with John McClelland, who sent me a bunch of promotional material, a review by the 33 Canadian Brigade Group on their 2007 Cambrian Patrol exercise, which is an international Long Range Patrol (LRP) competition held amongst the highest mountains in the Brecon Beacon area of Wales (U.K). 

This exercise is designed to test a patrol’s ability to operate covertly behind enemy lines with little to no direct support or resupply. This seemed the perfect example of why I would want to look at these packs, and I was really excited when a sample arrived in the mail.

The HydroPack 6-pack comes with everything you'd need for six portions, with six sachets, six straws all held in a resealable plastic bag. All in an iPad sized pack. SO, what is it all about?

Pulled from HTI Water's press release
Each pouch is a wafer thin plastic-on-one-side and woven Forward Osmosis (FO) membrane material, which is a flat sheet, spiral wound, and hollow fiber membrane, that will allow water to pass through, but exclude and removes viruses, bacteria, heavy metals and cysts from the dirtiest of waters, and even brackish water.

HTI Water's HydroPack pouches are  designed to make cloudy, muddy or pollutant contaminated water (both natural and man-made) safe to drinking emergency situations.

It does this without pumping, clogging or other banes of filtration systems, by virtue of the orange crystals held within the pouch. This is electrolyte powder is what acts to drive the Forward Osmosis, pulling pure water from external sources and filling the pouch with between 355-500 ml of dilute, electrolyte and carbohydrate enriched clean water.

 The pouches themselves are thin, light and quite durable feeling, but obviously, they need to be kept away from water, or they will start working. 

The instructions state that within 10 hours, but no longer than 24 hours, the pouch will fill, so I decided to test this out in my own setting, and found a source of grotty water that I had on hand. I took my pouch, and tossed it into the rain-runoff barrel next to the front garden veggie patch. This barrel takes the runoff from our downpipe filled water-tank, was the former home to goldfish (who all died), and is really quite murky year-round, but I was fairly confident that if there were trouble, nothing more than a dose of the runs would be in store for me.

The HydroPack was in the barrel from 1400 till 0900 the following morning, at which time I fished it out, wipped off the outer crud, stabbed it with the spiked straw, and sucked down on a tasty electrolyte drink.

I called this a total success, and was really impressed with the taste and efficacy of the pouches. 

I am going to keep some in my car, and Bug-Out-Bags for sure, because being caught out in a hostile environment with a crippling bout of intestinal cramps (bogged in a riverbed in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya for one example)  is not the best of survival strategies.

These are a very cool, lightweight, super easy to use system of emergency hydration and sustainmentI will be looking into getting more of these.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Tactical Tailor - MALICE 2 pack set

Here's the third installment of reviews for KitUp!'s David Reeder, and the inestimable Casey Ingles of Tactical Tailor. I've been so pleased with the other kit that they sent me, I've been somewhat hesitant to begin on this next review, given its magnitude.

However, it's just too awe-inspiring to hold it back any further, so here we go.

I've always wanted an ALICE pack. Since childhood I remember putting it on Birthday and Giftmas lists. 

The combination of metal frame and hefty pack have been of great interest to me, from my earliest camping days.

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you the MALICE 2 kit from Tactical Tailor.

This MODIFIED All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment pack is jam packed with improvements over the standard "lowest-common denominator" issue pack, and I'll get to those points as we go along.

Probably the first thing that strikes me about this pack is that it is BIG. With a main compartment capacity of 53L (3276 cu") and a whopping total capacity of 75L (4556 cu") That is a whole lot of ruck!.

Here is what it looks like when I filled it up, and threw it on. See lower down for what I filled it with. Lets just say a LOT.

As you can see, this is some serious pack! The kit itself comes in four distinct parts; the main pack body which constitutes all the storage, the Super Straps which are the heavily padded shoulder straps, the Super Belt which is the padded hip/kidney belt and the frame These all come together to form the MALICE2 -kit-. Each are available to add to, upgrade or replace a standard ALICE pack component.

I'll be honest, in that I needed the provided instructions to put it together, as there's no shame in RTFM.

So here's what I can tell you about all the parts:

The frame is built from light weight metal tubing, just like a racing bike, which is reported to give a 30% reduction in weight compared to other  pack frames. This frame is welded, rather than riveted, like the older issue-frames,  while increasing strength and rigidity over the issue ALICE pack frame. Apparently one key issue with those frames, apart from being flimsy, were the popping of rivets, leaving metal ends flapping in the breeze, ore more accurately, finding nice solid fleshy places to jab. Yeah. No thanks! The welds are really solid, and there is NO flex, sway, or signs of weakness in this frame. Rock-solid quality, powder coated to a smooth finish.

The frame also has a crossbar, which in fact rather than just joining the uprights, bends away from the body, creating a  space between the pack and your body. This is ace for not only keeping an air-flow gap, but also keeping the bulk of the pack up and off. The spacing of the frame also lends itself to go around standard sized (10"x12") back hard armour plates, something that hadn't occurred to me, but a brilliant idea!

The Super Straps are reported to be twice as long as issue straps, a real bonus if you are already bulked up with a plate carrier, warm clothes, and allows the use of a cool item like the MysteryRanch Cinch Straps to fix it snugly over a plate carrier. They  are made with 3/4" thick foam padding for added comfort under heavy loads. They are also are contoured rather tan just straight, to fit your shoulders and feature an adjustable sternum strap which helps distribute weight and keep it loaded tight to your body.
The Super Belt is much the same, except it utilizes 1.5" padding to maximise a comfortable ride of the pack. It features a big dual-adjusting front fastex style buckle and side ALICE style webbing attachment points to allow additional modular gear to be attached directly to the belt. Mounting the belt to the pack was a snap with the two adjustable buckles which just cinched it on tightly, this apparently replaces the 'ratchet' style attachment system on the issue kidney pad, which sounds like a nightmare!

The main pack itself as I said, is HUGE. The whole thing is made of 1000d Cordura, and features extra reinforcements of all  the high stress areas of the pack. The seams and all the finishings are top-notch.  

The main compartment is 53cm  (21")  tall, 35cm (14") wide and 28cm (11") deep. That might be hard to picture, but see below, for a good indication. You'll know when. That single main compartment has drainage grommets in the base, but is essentially a big open sack. For more compartmentalization , look to the outside! 

The front of the pack features two 6" x 7" x 4" and one 8" x 12" by 4" zippered pockets and on each side there are additional 7" x 10" x 4" zippered pockets. That's five big pockets lining the top of the pack. Below them are three more deep clip-fastening lidded pockets. I was able to stuff a set of cargo pants into each of these side pockets, rolled up, to give you an idea of their capacity and my Platatac Harry 1.2 Softshell Jacket in the middle one. We're talking a whole lot of storage here... Below the top row of pockets are two twin ALICE webbing loops, to give you even more modular attachment options, like for a canteen or e-tool.

You really CAN fit a whole lot in this pack.
Inside the top of the main compartment, in addition to the standard draw-string closure, is the additional Storm Flap modification, which sits inside the main closure, and adds an sphincter-like extension around the inside of the top of the pack to help keep things secure and dry. This also features a draw-string closure and really improves the packing security, easy of access when needed, and keeps the elements off your kit.

This is in addition to the built in flap that covers the whole of the top of the pack, secured with two long fastex-style clips on long webbing straps. That cover itself features another pocket, a

zipper closing 8" x 12" x 4" Claymore pocket. There is also a heavy duty 2" Nylon webbing carry handle at the top of the pack

Tactical Baby says RUCK UP!

She also objected strenuously to me trying to get her back OUT of the pack, and wanted to go for more rides. Considering she spent several hours worth of walking at ConFest in my Light Field Pack, I shouldn't have been surprised.

This is a serious mountain of a pack. 

Lightweight on its own, a heavyweight when used to its full capacity. The additional padding on the shoulder and hip belts are with no doubt a stunning improvement over previous offerings and I shudder to think what those old frames must have been like. The construction of this setup is without reproach, and I can see it lasting a lifetime. It truly warrants the "M" for Modified in its name but could just as easily stood for "modern".  This is a modern pack with classic lines, with rock-solid modern materials and construction philosophy.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: Tactical Cache

Here's a quick on for you whilst I keep working on my next big post ...

This was a stretch goal from another Kickstarter I have previously reported on, the Tactical Whistle.

Produced by Cybernetic Research Laboratories I again opted for the anodized aluminium version (rather than steel, brass or titanium. This was a cost-saving choice rather than anything else, although I have nothing against aluminum and in this application, as with the whistle, I didn't need anything fancy. Again in the "OD" green, which I must say is a bit more forest green to my eye, it matches my Tactical whistle nicely.

With inner dimensions of 6.3cm (2.485") deep and 1.4cm (0.578") diameter, which to give you an idea, fits a AAA battery. Over all it is 6.8cm (2.7") long and 1.9cm  (0.75") in diameter and 24g (0.85oz) in weight.

A pretty cute little package, a highly engineered piece, finely finished.

The outer shell, like that of the Tactical Whistle, is covered with a stepped,  knurled surface which gives improve grip in cold, wet or icy conditions. They really do provide a very good surface, without tearing up casual contacts.

Having a very well sealing, crush proof, storage can be a lifesaver. I envisage carrying fishing line, hooks and sinkers, matches and tinder, notes and messages, cash or a number of other key "get out of trouble" items.

With it's split ring for ease of lashing, I have hooked it to the side of my Bullock Echo pack, or left it dangling off my keychain.

As Karl of OscarDelta SPD rightly states "they can't take it if they can't find it" and this little cache fits the bill nicely.

Here it is up against the Jill Lite micro lantern, Oscar Delta Deep Carry Tube and the Tactical Whistle. 

A good item to add to my EDC. Now to fill it sensibly.  
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