Sunday, November 20, 2016

Home Front: Stabbing Lcpl Schmuckatelli

Here's a bit of fun I had a weekend or so ago. I have used polyethylene cutting boards as faux armour inserts for some time for my roleplaying and MilSim purposes. They're about the right sized and shape, are cheep, durable and stiff enough to add some realism without being either heavy, difficult to come by, or plain illegal for a Regular Aussie Bloke to have in their possession, unlike folks in other Western World nations with newly elected governments.

I've used polyethylene boards in the kitchen for a long while now, and have often marveled how they hold up to cuts, hacks and stabs. I have even on occasion, slipped one under a jumper when I've been "expecting some trouble" and helping out a friend in a possibly stabby situation, Ned Kelly style.

So to test this, I loaded up my very under-inspiring Zombie Outbreak Grunt plate carrier with one of the boards I typically use, a Legitim from Ikea, which at 500g, (1lbs2oz) and 8mm (1/4") thick, has always served me well in the kitchen.

Up against it, I pitched an assortment of blades.
  1. Schrade US Army knife
  2. KA-BAR Famine Tanto
  3. American Kami Super Colubris
  4. Boker Tomahook (front and back)
  5. United Cutlery M48 Tomahawk (front and back) 
  6. Ontario Black Wind sword
  7. United Cutlery M48 spear 
 I loaded the cutting board into the front of the plate carrier, which I had loaded up with 10 2L bottles of water, giving it a mass of 20kg (45lbs) and suspended it on a Tough Hook, with side-supports, in the hope of mimicking a free standing human target. Hitting a board laying on a block of wood or even free standing wouldn't be a very good simulation of being stabbed, but I hoped that this set-up would, as well as giving me a penetration "bleed" effect, if anything managed to make it through the board.

Here is the video we made of the testing.

I gave each stab or thrust a "I want to do you harm" amount of effort. Taking from my 16 years of kendo I have a fairly good idea of what these impacts would have on an armored target, as well as stabbing a bunch of things over the years for the hells of it. I was pretty happy with my strikes.

Here is the board once we removed it and married it up to the footage.

The two main "bleeder" shots were the back of the M48 tomahawk, the American Kami Super Colubris and the maybe M48 spear (if it actually punched that hole of its own accord).

So, in conclusion, unless someone is coming at you with a spear, or the pointy breaching end of an axe, you will probably be able to shrug off some stabs, and certainly all the slashes that land on a cutting board under your shirt. The good thing about polyethylene is that it is heat-labile, meaning you could mold it to be more chest-shaped.

Obviously there are commercially available, professionally made and certified stab proof inserts and garments you could use, if they were legally available to you, but for my purposes, they sem to fit exactly what I need from them. Won't stop a bullet, sure, but will turn a blade wielded by someone as strong as me.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: LimeFuel - Limeade Blast 18000mAh charger

I was asked "what piece of gear do you think you'd be pissed, if you went out and left behind?" and I had a hard time coming up with a single item, as I have a lot of redundancy in my EDC. However, one thing that I have found that I really don't like realising I have left behind, or lent out, is my external power source. My personal go-to power-pack is an item I originally backed as a Kickstarter, and have now moved into full commercial production, the LimeAde.

This is the Limeade BLAST L180X, their 18000mAh high-capacity option at the time of the Kickstarter campaign. It has been with me since July 2013 and faithfully charging my devices every other week or so.

Read the rest of the article on Breach Bang & Clear, here.

I've had very good service out of my Limeade Blast, and when I go on adventures, or even just have solid days away from my desk off-site or in meetings, it's an invaluable addition to my loadout, and one that is appreciated by anyone else who wants to sponge Amps off me.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Wish Lust: Nubé Stratos Kickstarter

I had to get this out to you all. The makes of the camping hammock tent system, that I love, the Nube, from designers Sierra Madre Research, have a Kickstarter going with a new and improved design, and it looks great. I've been in touch with them and gotten some press-release details, which I really wanted to share with my readers, to see if I could get more of you hanging above ground! New word: Hangers, those who hammock-camp.

The Nubé Stratos is a modular, lightweight, hammock shelter that offers 360° elevated protection from rain, wind, and insects for one or two hammocks, and up to 45 kg (100lbs) of gear (such as hiking packs, or a LOT of booze) that store neatly protected suspended below in the Gear Stash. The Nubé Stratos is comprised of two independent layers that can be set up as two independent shelters, or connected together with a color-coded quick connect system. The external layer is the StratosFly and the base layer is the StratoShield.

Hangers are offered the option to setup each layer in tandem for optimal protection, or as two separate shelters for efficient coverage and maximized viewing capabilities.

This versatility allows the outdoor explorer to “create their own adventure” by choosing which layer to utilize according to the needs of the ever changing environment.

External Layer: The StratosFly.
The StratosFly is much more advanced than any typical tarp or rain fly. It’s patented aerodynamic design, asymmetric shape, unique lightweight materials and factory-seam taping, work together to deflect rain and wind like a water shedding force field. Most tarps or flys leave your hammock ends completely exposed to the rain. SMr’s Patented Closure Sleeves synch down around the hammock suspension lines creating a watertight seal. This feature existed on the original Nubé and I really liked it. No damp feet or heads!

Base Layer: The StratoShield.
SMr put their master craftsmanship into the engineering of the StratoShield and created the first ever, Air Gap design. This beautiful design, is a 3 dimensional barrier that completely separates from the insect world and offers the most spacious interior imaginable, unlike the claustrophobic design of most bug nets on the market today. One of the most useful and praised integrations of the StratoShield is the Gear Stash. Rather than leaving your extra gear or pack in the mud, everything you brought becomes easily accessible, fully protected, and suspended inside right below you. The no seeum mesh is a unique blend that is extremely tightly
woven and quad layered lock-stitch making it soft to the touch, impenetrable by insects, and virtually invisible. The S-Curve dual sided doors for a sleek entrance zip is the main difference I noted, with a "S" shape rather than "U" shape, should make for much easier opening and closing from within the hammock.

There are many more intricate and ingenious SMr inventions layered throughout the system. Such as T-Locks (to fit a hiking pole from underneath to elevate the lip), opening up a wide viewing window to the beautiful world outside. Pocket Locks and Line locks built into the corners add to the existing designs options for neat, no tangle storage of  guy-out lines.
 The addition of interior Sky Hooks to hook a ridge line for hanging personal items, clothing to dry or interior lighting. is a brilliant complement to the pockets previously added.

Here are the vital statistics of the components and the system as a whole:

Nubé Stratos Hammock System
(Composed of StratosFly and StratoShield as a System)
Intended use: Hammock Camping/Backpacking
Seasons: 3
Recommended Capacity: 1-2 person (for those who don't realise, the Sierra Madre Research hammock systmes are designed to STACK. Bunk hammocks!)

Hammock Compatibility: Most Camping Hammocks (I would certainly recommend their Pares hammocks, awesome ... )
Packed weight: 1.02 kg (2lbs 4oz)
Packed Dimensions:    28cm x 15.2cm x 15.2cm (11" x 6" x 6")

Protects From: Rain, Wind, Sun
Packed weight:   0.50 kg (1lb 2oz)
Packed Dimensions:    18cm x 13cm x 13cm (7" x 5" x 5")
Material Exterior: 15D Nylon Ripstop Silicone impregnated Exterior
Interior: 1,200mm PU
Covered Area: 48sqft
Setup Dimensions: Width: 160cm x 254cm (63" x Length: 100")
Diagonal Coverage: 218cm (86")

Protects From: Insects, Muddy Gear
Packed weight:    0.50kg (1lb 2oz)
Packed Dimensions:    13cm x 14cm x 10cm (9" x 5.5" x 4")
Number of doors: 2
Material: 15D Quad-Layered Lockstitch Nano-see-um Mesh
Gear Stash Weight Capacity:    45kg 100lbs)
Design: Symmetric
Setup Dimensions: Width:    96.5cm (38") x Height: 137cm (54")

There's no doubt in my mind that these are going to be awesome. If you love hammocks, and camping, and hammock-camping then you should totally look into the Stratos system to cover your existing hammock, and if you are just getting into it, check out their hammocks as well.

I expect good things to come from Sierra Madre Research, they've not let me down this far.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wish Lust: Green Traveler

Here is a neat container that is being Kickstarted that I was quite keen on.

I have a number of survival caches, but they are all pretty small, such as the neat aluminium Sentinel-X by Ti2 and of course, the PathoPak "Dead People Jars" but having a purpose built food-storage, especially with rugged and dependable construction. Having enough storage components to make a whole meal or meals worth of food travel with you, up and down mountains, and along the trail. Something like the Green Traveler from My Green Traveler is in order.

It is only in its pre-production state currently, and I haven't had one in hand as yet, but here is what they say about it, and what I think about that. Made from injection molding out of ABS, and is made from 8 pieces. Two flat bottomed tray sections, each with a sealing lid, and two cup end pieces, with screw caps.

The tray sections, called Nooks, each hold 355 ml (12oz), and the cups hold 237 ml (8oz) for a total of 1.3 L (44 fl.oz) with overall dimensions of 34.5 x 9 cm (13” x 3.5”) and weighs 500g (1.1lbs) on its own. Solid. Heavy is good, if doesn't work, can hit them with it.

When sealed up, the Green Traveler has four isolated compartments, is reliably liquid tight, so won’t come apart inside a bag. It has two sets of clips on the top side of the nooks, to allow it to be clipped to be the outside of any bag, strap, sling or belt loop and fits in the beverage net on the side of most backpacks. It can keep items inside dry as well as hold liquids in.
It is designed for everyday uses such as around a city during your daily life to carry food, while traveling on airplanes, or driving to the park and is rugged enough for hiking, skiing, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, climbing and other adventure sports.

I suspect it wont like a rapid altitude change, such as on an airplane of a sea to summit trip, so be sure to burp it, if that's you plan, but the combination of screw clips on the cups, latch clips on the nook lids suggests

•Pack a lunch for a day trip
•Take food to-go or meal leftovers
•Pack a lunch for your kids
•Fill with pre-made food at a hot bar or food truck (this sounds excellent)
•First aid or other supplies to keep dry while boating
• Prevent soggy food from melted ice in a Esky

The Green Traveler looks like it will be a good sturdy food container, not to mention other supplies that can be stowed in it: medical supplies, fire starting kit, or electronics might well work in it, for kayaking trips or the like. ABS is a great plastic for this kind of build, and I think it will hold up well. I have LEGO that's almost 35 years old and still kicking around and going strong. I'll be curious to see how well the seals hold up, but as a one-piece set of food carriage gear, I'm impressed.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Home Front: Home defence and preparedness.

The folks atSimpliSafe home security, have done a lot to help everyone understand the importance of protection. This month, they're having everyone think about the subject and hear how we'd survive if we found ourselves in one of our favorite scary movies or shows. I wanted to give you all my take on what items would you utilize to protect yourself and your home in the case of a zombie apocalypse or lawless nation?"

The idea being how it's hard to find accurate survival movies, and we can all agree there is nothing worse than an incompetent character trying to survive in a film. Being such an avid survivalist myself, or at least a vocal one, I wanted to give my take on protecting my home from the most terrifying of scenarios. Bug-in-style.

So first up, lets talk scenario:
Without going too supernatural, in which a lot of options are right out, I'd like to go for a grounded, realistic and scary situation, the top of my list would sit at the 28 Days later or Dawn of the Dead style zombie apocalypse: mass casualties, civil disarray, utilities slowly winding down as infrastructure collapses, total lawlessness, and fast, savage, infectious and hungry semi-living foes.

Not a lot of lead up, maybe a couple of days at most as the situation escalated from "this just in..." news on the TV to "martial law" and then "....static ..." of the fall of civilisation. Sure it would be possible to talk about "how to best make a fort, but I've covered that kind of thing before. This situation is "hey, the world just ended, how do you make your house safer?"

Aside from providing a secure wireless security system, the folks at SimpliSafe had this cool Layered Defense presentation that made a lot of sense, in a regular world security perspective, and I thought I'd build on that:

  1.  The Safe Room: safe, flashlight, mobile phone.
  2.  Inside the house: TV & lamp timers, hidden valuables, obstruction under windows, heavy drapes, wireless alarm systems.
  3.  Walls, Doors & Windows: Garage with multiple locks, solid reinforced doors, waring signs, security film, keyed window locks.
  4.  The Grounds: security lights, gravel, outdoor lighting, prickly plants, dog.
  5.  Locked gates: low level fencing, more warning signs.
  6.  The neighbourhood: Know your neighbours, street lighting, neighbourhood watch.

So that's a lot of good points. Do we have a "safe room" well, given the layout of the house, the best option is probably Tactical baby's room, which has a single window facing the side of the house next to us, and no access to it elsewhere. Protection through obscurity.

More on the neighbours houses later ...
Inside the house we have a lot of things covered, blinds and locks, including sliding windows blocked with rods dropped into the rails to prevent unwanted sliding, even if unlocked. In this situation, you wouldn't want timers switching lights ON at night, but rather, OFF, to obscure your presence, even if there were still mains power.

Our grounds could do with some serious work, but the solid wall of houses on one side acting as a double protection, the biggest concerns are the bay-window facing the street.

My plan would be to barricade this inside and out, using futon-bed slats as a basis to bar it and layers of cladding to seal it up. Higher windows aren't as much of a concern, except for noise and light discipline.  Our backyard fence is a bit rickety, but can be reinforced from the inside, and materials salvaged from our shed could also assist in reinforcing it, and barricading. In the worst case, we could just fall back, and barricade the back of the house, abandoning the back-yard. If I could rig up hurricane fencing, even on the inside of the wooden slat fence, I'd be a lot happier. as its a rental, the chances of getting the fence replaced is pretty slim.

Our front yard, with its white picket fence, and big windows presents its own problems. Not high enough or strong enough to obscure the home, or repel hordes, it does offer a buffer, and allows you some visibility as to what's going on. By reinforcing and barricading the windows, again, with shed walls, and bed-slats, you could quickly rig up a hurricane and zombie resistant house-front.

We recently replaced the aging fly-wire and aluminium frame screen door, with a steel mesh and framed security door, complete with new wooden beams to fit it to, giving us a much more secure front entrance. Coupled with our Strike Plate lock, the front door is more secure now.

Here's where my plans get devious. Given the scenario laid out, our home isn't great, defensively, but my neighbors house is. Walled in by our house, and their other side neighbors, and again at the back. Walled garden at the back. Solar power, rain tanks. Roof access between their and ours (the gap is only about 1.5m).

If the world came to a horrid, zombie infested end? We'd secure our place as best we could, and make plans to move one house over. Know your neighbors. Know your neighborhood. Be well respected, appreciated and valued. Look out for each other and be ready to help when called, and you'll be welcomed in times of adversity, AND know where the best bolt-holes are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Home Front: shipping containers

I've briefly covered the use of shipping containers as houses, but I wanted to go into them in a little bit more depth. About 80% of the world's containers are either 6.1m, twenty foot or 12.2m, forty foot standard length boxes of the dry freight design. These typical containers are rectangular, closed box models, with doors fitted at one end, and made of corrugated weathering steel (commonly known as CorTen).
Weathering steel refers to the chemical composition of these steels, allowing the steel to rust in order to form the protective coating.

The containers are typically lined with a plywood floor, but bare walled and ceilinged. Corrugating the sheet metal used for the sides and roof contributes significantly to the container's rigidity and stacking strength, just like in corrugated iron or in cardboard boxes.

Standard containers are 2.44 m (8') wide by 2.59 m 8'6" high, although the taller "High Cube" or "hi-cube" units measuring 2.90 m (9'6") have become very common in recent years.
By the end of 2013, high-cube 40 ft containers represented almost 50% of the world's maritime container fleet, according to Drewry's Container Census report.

ISO containers have castings with openings for twistlock fasteners at each of the eight corners, to allow gripping the box from above, below, or the side, and they can be stacked up to ten units high. Regional intermodal containers, such as European and U.S. domestic units however, are mainly transported by road and rail, and can frequently only be stacked up to three laden units high. Although the two ends are quite rigid, containers flex somewhat during transport.
Their standardised design, high strength and durability materials, makes the use of shipping containers for domestic repurposing quite appealing. They can be stacked, staggered and arranged. The corrugated steel can be welded, cut and shaped, and the heavy beams at each corner and the solid base give you the ability to completely cut away the sides to give a open-plan effect.

The rest of the stats of the containers give you an idea of their workability, as far as architectural use goes: A 40' container weighs 3,800 kg and has a capacity of 67.5 m³, and are typically rated to have a net load of 26,200 kg. That's a lot of capacity. The internal dimensions are 12.03m x 2.35m x 2.38m, and externally 12.2m x 2.44m x 2.59m.

Converting them into homes isn't anything new, and there are loads of resources to review plans and different configurations are widely available.
There is also some good advice about what NOT to do with your shipping container, namely burying them, because they are not designed to take loads on the sides or middles of the panels, rather than on their stacking corner posts.
There are also the issues with the containers "floating" if buried, let alone at sea, if they fall off the back of a ship, which apparently happens more often than anyone wants, but other than that, they are very versatile, and readily available, rapidly pre-fabricated units.

They are, however, not designed to be bulletproof, and the folks from Civil Advantage put them to the test in the following video.
However, if you really need that kind of thing going on, there are of course, options. However, all told, it looks like they are robust, resilient and readily available home construction alternative. I think I would really like to do this at some stage, at least a two storied construction, and in my minds eye, a horse-shoe style two-story building, which can be buttoned up securely at the ground level.
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: BladeTech TEK-LOK Belt Clamping Unit

When it comes to keeping extra gear on my person, and I am not wearing one of my PALS equipped belts, like the subtle SICC belt or the more hooah Condor GEN1 battle belt there are times when you still want to have a well mounted piece of gear, with a more regular belt, even if its the dual-purpose PM Leather hobble Belt ...

When you want to mount carry something with any really weight on a belt, there are really two things that you need to take into account, the strength and stiffness of the belt, and the weight, and method of use  of the item to be carried.

A stable platform, such as that produced by Bladetech in the TEK-LOK belt clamping unit. This is a high density polymer belt clip that allows the user to fasten virtually any kind of load to a regular belt.

The principle is simple. A clam shell hinged design allows the user to quickly and easily slip the mounting over a belt in place, and closes at the bottom, with first a pair of pinch-to-open horns and then a latch that folds up and around, locking the horns from pinching open, both of which are held against the body when worn, keeping them protected from any conceivable accidental release. Inside the clip there are a run of holes cut into the back face, into which two rubberised spacers which can be placed at a variety of spots in order to give the best hold on the belt, as well as eliminating slippage or wobble.

The business side of the clip however is the the flat faced plate which is dotted with a 3 x 3 grid of holes, through which rivets, screws and bolts can be threaded and fitted to the eyelets fitted to many of the  holsters, magazine carriers, phone holsters, knife sheaths and many other types of accessories that you will want to fit to belts and carry around with you. The inside face is recessed so your boltheads don't interfere with the belt, and ensure a safe and secure connection.

With bolts, and rubber spacers you can affix in many different combinations to allow you to set up whatever you are carrying to suit your needs, space and usage you had in mind.

The inner face of the TEK-LOK is slightly curved to marry with the body contours, the width of the top edge of the clip means it offers a stable platform, which as the load increases, becomes more and more important. I set mine up with my HHA ASOT-01 knife as an example and it ran really nicely.

One thing you'll find though is that you are at the mercy of the holster, sheath and carrier manufacturers, as the holes in the item to be mounted will determine how and where you can use the TEK-LOK, so bear that in mind, and if possible, try before you buy to ensure you get a good fit!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Grey Ghost Gear - 6x8 Utility Pouch

I took a bunch of Grey Ghost Gear pouches out for a hike up the easy daytrip, but possibly haunted Hanging Rock State Park, with my family, I wore pouches which I fitted out with a variety of hiking goods, in order to carry whatever needfulls I might have needed on the trip.

The pouches were filled with a variety of hiking goods, whatever I might have needed on the trip. One pouch I used was the 6×8 Utility Pouch .

The 6x8 Utility Pouch is designed to hold a variety of items, from medical supplies, a 1 quart GI canteen, Nalgene bottle, or other miscellaneous items. I put a 1L Nalgene in mine, as I wanted to stay hydrated on my hike up and down, as well as any clambering I'd be doing.  Up and down rockfaces, into ravines and meandering through the alpine bush.

Read the rest of the review here on Breach Bang & Clear: 

The pouch held up pretty well on my trip, and since, although I found that the 1L Nalgene bottle was a snug fit, and made for a tight zippering, which meant that a couple of times if I didn't zip it up tight it came loose, but I caught it before I lost my bottle. A 1 quart canteen fit easily enough, but I wanted more capacity than that.

Thanks to Anthony for the photography! You'll be seeing more of his work in this series...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: Pace lid

Here's an item that I had covered as a wish-lust item back in January when I backed the Kickstarter for the PACE lid.

PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. It is a cache that replaces the lid of a wide-mouthed bottle such as a Nalgene. I've got several, both Nalgene and Kathmandu and the idea of them doing double duty was just too good. 

When planning for events in life you have to expect that unforeseen things may happen and knowing this and being able to prepare is empowering. Also, keeping your gear handy and secure is a good thing.

The PACE lid container has a capacity of 300mL (10oz), it's deep enough for an ID or credit card as well as a variety of other gear, with a recessed lip to fit a bent ID or credit card. 

The container is 7.6cm (3") in diameter and 5.7cm (2.25") inches deep. There's a small recessed lip around the perimeter that can secure items vertically and in place if they are bent, like cards, matches, other gear items.

I found that I could load at least 8m of paracord, along with my favorite gear tie, the Fishbone Piranha.

I found that I could stash a variety of items, from a roll of tape, keys, pocket-tools and a watch, as well as my ID. The idea I had was that I would have a waterproof and unobtrusive cache that I could leave on the beach, or toss into a daypack. 

The one downside is, that it is a pretty bulky addition to a Nalgene. 

You can see that it adds a fair length to the bottle, and that won't go un-noticed. Something to bear in mind.

The seal on the Nalgene bottle was solid, and the threading was well machined, so I didn't have any problems with leaks. 

One thing that occurred to me that I could store in it was a powdered sports drink, so I could keep my electrolytes up on the trot, my thought was that I could fill it up the 10oz capacity, enough to make several liters.
To give you another idea of how much capacity the PACE lid offers, I filled it with 70 Mentos. You could of course fill it with your own snacks or confection of choice, enough fishing line, lures and hooks to have a fishing trip set and ready to go. 

Survival Kit:The folks behind the PACE lids also offer a fully kitted out survival option, developed to fit specifically into a PACE lid.

Their kit includes:
(1) Adventurer Button Compass (NATO/U.S. Military Issue)
(10) All Weather Survival Matches (NATO/U.S. Military Issue)
(1) Derma Safe Razor Knife (U.S. Military Approved)
(1) Sewing Kit w/6 Safety Pins (Assembled in USA)
(6) MP1 Water Purification Tablets (U.S. Military Issue)
(1) Adventurer Survival Whistle (SOLAS/NATO Approved)
(1) Mini Survival Fishing Kit (Assembled in USA)
(1) Type 1A Utility Cord (U.S. Military Approved)
(1) Brass Snare Wire (Trapping and Equipment Repair)
(1) Emergency Signal Mirror (Daytime Emergency Signaling)
(1) Compact Flint Fire Starter w/Striker
(6) Adventurer Tinder Quik Fire Tabs
(1) Adventurer Fresnel Lens Fire Starter
(1) Water Bag 
(1) Compact First Aid Kit
--Sting Relief (2 packets)
--Butterfly Bandages (2)
--Band Aids (6)
--Moleskin (3" x 4")
--Triple Antibiotic Ointment (2)
--Zip Lock Bag
(2 packets) Hand Sanitizer
(2) Deet Bug Repellent Wipes 
(1) Silica Gel Desiccant (Moisture Absorbent)

The PACElid adds storage capacity to a wide mouth water bottles, compatible with Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Kathmandu and Hydroflask bottles. I'm going to keep trying out new loads to carry around with me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...