Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: EcoFuture - ChillShot

I had a funny delivery in the mail recently, and thought I might share it with you all. 

This is a stress relief supplement that was sent to me by the good folks at OurEcoFuture, who you may recall also produce the Aqua Prove water treatment, an organic hand sanitizer spray and a BioDefence foot protection treatment.

This is the Chill Shot, which is purported to promote a feeling of tranquility, reduced stress, less anxiety and inspires a greater sense of self confidence and lessening social inhibitions". That's quite a sell, in any-ones book. I gave it a shot.

With an ingredient list that reads much like a multivitamin tablet, mixed with the key "secret ingredient" Zembrin®, a Sceletium Tortuosum extract, with the more mundane but standard vitamins A, D, B6, B12, C, E, Biotin, iodine, zinc, Phosphatidylserine (a memory/cognition booster) , calcium, folate, Pantothenic Acid (another vitamin, B5) and copper, its a content rich supplement in a 60mL package.
I've been a test subject for a nutritional biochemist before, so am no stranger to the taste these kinds of things can have, but for the unprepared, this might have been a shock. Think about chewing multivitamin tablets, and ashing it down with grapefruit juice. You know its working, but isn't necessarily what you'd want to base a cocktail on. 

At slightly higher volume of consumption, the effects are reported to  become more pronounced and produce feelings of euphoria, increased tactile sensitivity, as well as amplified libidinal desires, not to use if pregnant, nursing or operating machinery. and that hit is not intended for use by persons under the age of 12.

I found it to be a very gentle buzz, not unlike the Musashi energy drinks I used to have, quite different from the Red Bull/V type go-juice drinks. Think of it as a multivitamin shot, with a rounded calming effect, and you'd have the right idea. 

High stress survival situation, on limited nutritional value rations? This might be the ticket to help keep your head (and brains) when you don't have time to look after yourself or get enough rack-time. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sneak Peek: Ti2 - Sentinel X containers

Just arrived in the mail, following shipping misadventures... I'm really excited about these ... Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Boker 343 scalpel folder

A while back I added a couple of new folders to my collection of pointies. Folding knives are easy to carry, easy to pack and easy to deploy. I've had little folders, from Swiss Army knives, to a more traditional liner lock pocket knife my cousin gave me and I lost in the deserts of the Arabian peninsula.

This delicate and swan-necked blade is the Boker 343, as far as I can tell, a little hard to tell for sure as it seems to be a discontinued line, although it is very similar to the current  Boker Urban Survival knife

This full gray titanium coated, 440C stainless steel blade features ambidextrous thumb bolts for ease of opening. The 5.6cm edge is straight and scalpel shaped, and only 1.9cm at its widest. The long straight edge makes for easy resharpening, although I haven't found I've needed to do much to keep it keen.  This is a paring knife, not a machete, that's for sure.

Featuring a pocket clip on one side, the textured aluminium alloy scales are well formed and fitted, sitting nicely in the hand.

The liner lock has a smooth finish, with little to no wobble to the blade when extended, or when sitting folded. The bolts holding the piece together are very neatly set, and tie the whole look together very nicely.

I liked the feel of the blade in the hand, and the scalpel like wield it offered. Again, this is a precision cutting tool, not a hacker, or slasher.

Slightly too big to fit easily in PALLS/MOLLE webbing, this blade does however sit very unobtrusively and nicely in the pen-slot of admin pockets. The biggest problem I have with it is the slightly awkward opening and closing arc the swan-neck affords when you engage the liner-lock.

For what it is, this is an elegant knife, and sits without drawing attention to itself in my day-bag, waiting for a time when I might need a cutting tool more suitable than the knife in my multitool.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Silva - Luminous Wrist compass

I picked up  couple of these little compasses from Platatac, when my step daughter asked for a compass to put in her bag "so I don't get lost". How could I refuse a request like that?

I have a little button compass as a part of my ITS Urban SERE kit, and there is a magnometer built into my phone, for times when my GPS wont give me a location and bearing. However, compass navigation is something that is really important for everyone, and it pays to have backups as well as a primary.
This is the Silva Luminous Wrist Compass.  It is a button sized luminous compass that is designed to fit directly on your watchband. This compass has 8 graduations for the cardinal and cross-quarter points (800 mils). North is marked out with a good solid red triangle. The other cardinal points are clearly marked, in orientation so that they are readable forwards regardless what your bearing is.

The compass fits directly onto your watch band with the built in flattened loop band, but only if your watch band is narrow enough. The band I put onto my Pebble is too wide, and though a baracord bracelet would be a perfect place to add it.

With its luminous face, the compass is visible in dark environments with only a brief exposure to light, say the residual charge from a days outdoor activity.

I have attached mine to the ITW Grimloc carabiner I have on my Hazard4 Loader RG holster harness.

In prime position for me to glance down and take a bearing.

Being a little compass, it is not super accurate, given that it only has eight points, and had a bit of variance when I compared it to my other compasses, but as an EDC, holdout compass, it is all but weightless and takes up no space.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Home Front: log, it's log!

A couple of weeks ago I came home to this rather large pile of timber in my front yard. Apparently the local arborists know that I have a wood fire and after propositioning them to take the least tree they cut down, they've taken it on themselves to not have to mulch any logs they fell, and after asking my eldest who was getting home from school, they tossed a tree into my front yard.
At least this time I didn't have a veggie patch for them to crush.

Welcome Mt Birchmore, altitude 1.2m.
I'm pretty sure it was birch, although there was no foliage for me to confirm with.
One thing I know, there was a whole tree's worth.

Obviously this would need to be seasoned before burning it, but as we've just come into spring here, and summer brings "total fire bans" for weeks at a time, I will be able to comfortably sit through the six months of drying time that is recommended for green wood. Given Melbourne's zany weather, probably just for the best, anyway.

I was lucky that the arborist crew chainsawed most of the logs into pretty uniform lengths, and even the larger blocks of wood into manageable chunks.
I spent a number of hours hauling all this around to the back of our house and stacking it up.
Before stacking my new haul, however, I needed to clear out my vine, leaf litter and as it turns out, bush rat nest filled old log pile.
This pile of mixed logs, including redgum and a variety of other woods that I have salvaged from around my neighbourhood and on my drives to and from Triceratops Girl on the weekends. It's become part of out urban-scavenging mindset to always be on the lookout for logs piled up out the front of houses. When we can, we stop and load up the back of the RAV4 and restock our supply.
After cleaning out my log store spot, a paved area beside the trampoline and fenced off chicken run in what used to be a bare patch of grass, I stacked up my timber booty in three layers, on one side, and a single stack behind the wall my smoker sits on, with a good mix of large logs and thinner ones so that I have a selection when it comes time to burn it. I covered the main body of the stack to attempt to keep the spring rains from setting it to rot. Triceratops Girl was even keen to get involved with the hauling and stacking she has a slow-combustion stove at her mothers place, so knows all about having nice wood fires.

Wood fires may not be the most ecologically friendly, often producing a lot of particulate waste, especially in open fires, or when using green wood, but when it comes to survival and self-reliance, having a supply of firewood, and the means to both cook and heat with it can make the difference between comfort and squalor. In snow-bound areas, it can mean the difference to life itself.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Strike Plate Lock

In a very cool piece of happenstance, I came across a Kickstarter project that was a direct upgrade to another item that I covered not too long ago. The Zazz QuickLock portable door lock which lets you convert a regular latch to a physically blocked lock, but was a pretty flimsy piece of security.

This hefty piece is somewhat less portable, but offers a significant security upgrade to any strike-plate equipped regular door with a knob, and attaches in minutes. This is the Strike Plate Lock.

The principle of the lock is to replace the existing strike plate with a hinged plate, attached to a heavy-duty chain and a ring, which loops over the door-knob, providing a frame-mounted, door-knob fixed physical restraint to your door.

The metal is 16 gauge 300 series stainless steel and 0.050" thick the ring is 2.5" inside round and 1/4" thick. It affixes to the frame using the existing strike plate screw-holes, and two long screws came along with it.

I used my multitool, undid the old screws and removed the old plate, and attached the new one in less than two minutes, and immediately bolstered the effectiveness of my front door.

I wondered how much the latch and facing would be exposed and whilst you can see both strike-plate, latch plate and the chain are visible, the door is only open a crack, and there is no easy bolt-cutter access to the chain, just a nice balistraria for me to fend off invading triffids and zombies.

The creator, Robert Dieguez, gave it a very thorough workout, in the video I pulled from his site, below:

I didn't want to put my (rental) houses' front door through this kind of test, so I'm glad that Robert did so with his testing-frame. I was pleased to note that the whole rig seemed to slide itself out of the way either due to good design, or just how my screws alignment shifted the center of balance, but when not in use, it folds out of the way, and when in-use, I have a very secure additional feature to home security.It was a fast, easy and unobtrusive addition, and appears to be outperforming other chains and door-bolts.

Go check out his Kickstarter,  the webpage and Facebook .

[EDIT] prototype proof video

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Power Practical - Practical Meter

Here's a very cool gadget that I backed via Kickstarter, and have added to my mobile power ensemble. I've previously covered power generating thermo-electric systems such as Tellurex tPod1
and the bioLite power generating campstove as well as some options for going solar.

I've also covered a couple of power units, such as the Snow Lizard SLXtreme-5 iPhone case and the Power Travellers Power Gorilla.

This is the Practical Meter which is a clever little in-line USB unit, which gives you a visual means of determining the power usage and output. The LED's built in give an indication of the number of Watts (0-10W, 0-2A) that is being drawn to a given device. This display is in two stages, blue LED's lighting up for 1-5W, and then with the flashing red LED indicating 6-10W.

This level of resolution enables the user to customise the output, either by adjusting cables for better USB version, or the power source. For example, with solar collectors, it would be possible to adjust the angle of the panel to catch the maximum solar output. The same would stand for a thermo-electric generator, or any USB source combination.

Having an adjustable and monitoriable source of power means that a survivor can tailor their resources to best serve their needs in the event of being cut off from reliable mains power. Whether it is solar, fire or from a variety of battery sources, with an item like the Practical Meter, you can at least see what you are getting. It's not a robust piece of tech, so needs to be treated with more care than a ruggedised piece of bug-out kit, but at 12g (0.4oz) it's a great value piece of tech to add to your "power-pack pack".
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