Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Events: 600 posts! 836,000 hits!

I clicked over a couple of big milestones recently. I cracked 800,000 page views earlier in the month, and looks like I've having even more success as well there, but also just published my 600th post.

Between my regular Reviews, Home-Front pieces, Wish-Lust pieces and Event reports. I've covered a lot of Kickstarter projects as part of my reviews, which have been great to.

I also have written a bunch of posts for Breach Bang and Clear and cross posted here too.

 It's been really great to see some high levels of interest in the things I've covered, as well as a bunch of LIKES and comments as well.

I'd be delighted to take requests of gear, events or topics to cover, so if you have a hankering to see me review something, try something, go or do something, to help your understanding of what I think it takes to be Apocalypse Equipped, do drop me a comment and let me know!

Ready For Anything. Are You?

Review: Street Kitchen spice set

This is one of the spice mix packs that my parentals-in-law sent me for Giftmas last year that I am finally getting around to covering. They know I have a love of exciting kit foods, cooking, camping and the like, so it's ace that they think to send me tasty treats to try. This is one of them. You might ask yourself, what is the point of putting spices and spice-kits into a blog about Apocalypse Equippedness?

I know it's not the same as me covering the MRE-style Mainstay Survival rations, or the just-add-water dehydrated meals from Back Country Cuisine or Outdoor Gourmet but there are some good reasons. One is morale. Food fatigue is something we can all avoid day-to-day, but in a disaster situation, where resources are limited, having something to spice up an otherwise boring meal is a much needed booster. The other aspects of having a pre-packed spice kit like this are that they can be used to improve otherwise unpalatable foods. I certainly don't advocate eating contaminated or tainted food, and the dangers of eating spoiled foods are well documented.
However, it is commonly held that heavily spicing meals can mask and even possibly improve the spoilage rates of food by killing microorganisms responsible for food going off. These studies however don't suggest anything more than heavily spicing food -may- assist, and that for the most part, the effect is to improve the taste. Be safe. Don't come crying to me if you give your self Bali-Belly, Tutankhamen's Curse or Masai Malaise.

So with that in mind, I'd like to tell you about one such spicing kit, the Street Kitchen "North Indian Butter Chicken" kit, which comes in three sealed plastic retorts, one for a dry-spice mix, one for the ginger and garlic marinade and the third is the tikka simmer-sauce.

These are all contained in a very easily packing flat pack with instructions.

You marinade 600g your meat (chicken, donkey or rat, what-ever) in the garlic and ginger, till it is well infused, softens, or as long as you can manage.

The spice pack gets flash fried in hot oil, to release its aromatics, and then the meat goes in the heat as well. Once browned, the simmer sauce goes in over the top and cooks down for even further softening. The recipe states this is a 3-4 serving kit, which will cook in 20 minutes, but you could stretch that if you're luck enough to have more main-protein than that. You could also substitute meat for beans, potato, rice or other dry-storable staple that comes in long-term survival bunker stores.

I used chicken, and fed the family of four adults and one Tactical baby happily with several chicken fillets and rice.

It was delicious and really easy to use. At 225g (8oz) it was a really lightweight way to significantly improve a meal that would otherwise could have been "grilled/boiled chicken" and white rice.

You can imagine the difference this would make after having to contend with basic rations for a while, and perhaps aging and degrading flavours in stored supplies, or at the worst, less than ideal meats, be they from unpalatable sources, or not as fresh as you might otherwise be used to.

People in hot climates have been spicing their foods for millennia. People have been fighting against microbial spoilage of supplies for even longer. With these long shelf-life spice kits, you can make use of those advances on the go and make an enjoyable meal!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: SparrowsLockPicks - HALO points

As well as all manner of other pointy things that I like, I also enjoy archery, though I have not done much for some time. My first bow was a bushman bow we picked up living in Gabon, west Africa, with gut string, bamboo arrows and iron arrow tips. Much later on I bought my first proper bow, after many sticks and twine attempts, in a 30-35lb pull composite recurve, which I got primarily for LARP purposes, but also some target shooting at home.

I also have a Japanese yumi longbow, which to my shame I have never put to proper use (I need to get myself some of the correct sized arrows, it takes much longer lengths than Western arrows tend to come in).

Read the rest here on Breach, Bang & Clear.

The HALO points

I especially enjoyed working with these pieces, and whilst small in the hand, they have a sincerity to them that comes from good design.

Available in Singles or as a Full Set from Sparrows Lock Picks, the HALO points are well worth adding to a bug-out bag, SERE kit or just have handy when you need a little blade.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: Food bar comparison CLIF bar & Blue Dinosaur bar

Following on from my Bounce food nugget post a while back, We lashed out and got me some other energy foods to trail and I wanted to give you my comparison assessment.

I got a box each of the Bounce Peanut Protein Blast, the CLIF Bar Crunchy Peanut Butter and the Blue Dinosaur Ginger Nut bars. Of all the listed flavours these appealed the most, and I wanted to select flavours that were close, and that I would enjoy. No point picking identical ones that I wouldn't like, after all.

All foil wrapped, with nitrogen filling, to reduce and avoid any oxidative spoilage, the three bars weighed in at 45g for the Blue Dinosaur, 68g for the CLIF Bar and the Bounce Ball at 49g.

I covered the Bounce nuggets previously, so I wont go into them much, read them up here.

The Crunchy Peanut Butter CLIF Bar is an energy bar that was purposely designed from rolled oats, dried fruits, nuts and seeds. As such it provides energy from multiple carbohydrate sources and a blend of protein, fat and fiber blended to slow the rate of digestion to deliver sustained energy. CLIF Bars also contain a blend of vitamins and minerals reported to be important for energy and physical recovery. They give 1088kJ (260Cal) which is quite a lot, compared to the 8368Kj (2000Cal) recommended daily average for an adult male.

The CLIF bars were light in the hand, and moderately hard, but the puffed protein crisps throughout added to the lightness of the bar. It also made for easy eating, which his important to note, because jaw-fatigue is a real thing, and something I found came up with the Bounce nuggets. It was also delicious. Not too tacky, not too sweet, but favoursome and sufficiently complex to make me want to eat a couple a day. Certainly good for road-trips, hikes, or endurance events like Tough Mudder.

The Blue Dinosaur Ginger Nut Paleo Bars are a baked snack made from only 5 ingredients. With a taste similar to that of an ANZAC biscuit, with a hint of ginger to enhance its sweet, nutty flavour. With plenty of protein and good fats, the ginger nut bar will give you plenty of energy, at 865kJ (207Cal) per bar, to keep you going.

Baked at 75oC, they have very little water in them, so they are very stable, and the oils from the nuts, coconut and coconut oil prevent any bacteria from growing, these were a very soft bar which I didn't find nearly as appealing as the CLIF or the Bounce bars, but they were tasty and certainly seemed simple and appealing in a very wholesome way. I'd say these are less a survival staple and more of a road-trip and day-hike snack. They were tasty, for sure, but something about them seemed less durable and suited more to day to day snacking than disaster preparation.

So in summary, I liked all three of the bars, and each have their place, uses and desirability. I think I will preferentially re-stock up on the CLIF bars, because of the solid-but-light nature of the bar.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: GoST Paleo Barefoots CAYMARO Paws

This is a much delayed post, and I owe  Jörg Peitzker of GoST Paleo Barefoots a big apology for not getting it out sooner.

That said, this is my fourth pair of GoST Barefoots that I have trialled, and the second set of Barefoots with their imbedded "PAWS" traction pads. These are the CAYMARO design, with the GoST new and improved PAWS2.0 style, as my first set was really a prototype version.

 I contacted Jörg after I found that the PAWS on my Anterra's had worn off or worse worn down, to such an extend that some of the chain links had been trapped from the inside and not rotated freely as I ran.

I found that they had then worn unevenly, and had actually damaged the rings! Not impossible, but unusual, so when I told Jörg he informed me that it was indeed an issue they had seen with the early versions and he sent me out not only replacements, but a new model as the replacement too!
Check out the previous models here:

The original Paleo-Barefoots-PRONATIV Classic sole

The more advanced Paleo-Barefoots-ANTERRAClassic sole

and the Paleo-Barefoots ANTERRA PAWS sole

Made of the same "4 in 1" welded 0.55 mm gauge "1.4404" stainless steel  with a 4mm external diameter chain and an internal diameter of 2.9 mm as the PRONATIV's, and the ANTERRA's. The CAYMARO's have a slightly different lacing and tongue pattern, and I really liked it.

Rather than a 1/3 sized lacing bracket, the CAYMARO's laving runs almost 2/3 down the length of the shoes, which means you have a lot more play to adjust the fit and feel of the shoes, which given they essentially become a second skin, it allows a far greater range of customisation. I found that over extended runs (I've done several Tough Mudder events, and hundreds of km's on the track and trail, having a good fit is key to the freeing feel of the Barefoots. These are the best fitting models yet, though getting them to fit right takes a couple of moments longer than the ANTERRA or PRONATIV's it is time well spent.

The new and improved PAWS are thicker, broader, firmer and more deeply embedded in the rings, this changes the feel of the ground underfoot, mostly because of the harder beads and the more coverage, but when running on hard rocky surfaces, gravel or the like, that can actually be an advantage. They certainly still feel good on man-made surfaces like polished wood or concrete. No more slippery shopping centres!

The improvements are spot on the money, and I had expected no less from the GoST team. Keep your eyes out for their new "less like socks, more like runners" versions, the Urbans ... coming soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Review: Fishbones - Carry-all hook

Here is an interesting piece of kit that came from the same minds as the Gravity Hook, and Fishbones, Piranhas gear ties. It's the kind of thing that I would probably make for myself if I had a metalwork workshop myself, where Brent & Eldrick Garcia of Out-Tek, LLC saw a need, and made something to fit the need.  This is the Carry-All.

Basically, Brent didn’t want to see his guitar constantly getting knocked over. So he made this thing. It’s basically a stainless steel hanger that can be fitted with either a length of nylon webbing or paracord.

Massively over-engineered, it is way stronger than it needs be, and that opens it up to my favourite kind of gear. Rugged, multifunctional and simple.

The body of the Carry-All is cut from a single piece of 3/16" stainless steel, the main hook opening is based around a 4cm (1.6") radius opening, much like a regular coat-hanger hook, and certainly wide enough to loop over all manner of pipes, racks, ledges and branches.

There is a finger grip section much like on a trench knife, with has a 2.5cm (1.0") radius opening, which is plenty of room for even a gloved finger, and there is enough room for two fingers, and along with the back side thumb-riser "guard" allows for a very secure grip which in turns allows for a quite comfortable hold-point for using the Carry-All as a carry-handle.

It isn't climbing rated, and Brent only mentions holding up to 45kg (100lbs) but I suspect you could carry more than would be comfortable before it breaks.

Designed to primarily take 1" webbing, the Carry-All has two sets of twin webbing slots, one narrower, one wider. These enable you to friction lick the webbing easily, as well as doubling the feed over to ensure a really secure lock. Looping both ends of the webbing through the eyes forms a webbing loop that can then be used for the Carry-All's primary purpose, to grab and hang awkward, unusually shaped and odd pieces of kit, be they the neck's of guitars, a pole to form hangers, or any other sort of webbing strapable item, which could do wit ha hook to attach it to a suspension point.

So hang your awkward stuff up to 100 pounds. I would like you to have one too.

With an overall length 12.5cm (5") and 7cm (2.8") wide, the 3/16" stainless steel is hefty and as sturdy as you could want, whilst still being essentially pocket-sized. The 18" 1" webbing supplied could be swapped out with any other 1" webbing, but as well as this, there are three paracod sized holes drilled into the base of the hook to facilitate stringing it with paracord instead.

It seems a odd piece of gear, it served a particular role, but also with a whole bunch of new options available for hanging, strapping and suspending, especially if traveling and you want to keep a bag of wet ground, for example. The balance points are well placed, and the stonewashed finish is easy on webbing and paracord alike.

I also envisage using these for picking up cast-iron pots from firepits, carrying twine-bundled loads of kindling, and stringing guy-lines for tarps.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: First Tatical - Medium Duty Light

I did a "quickie-review" of the First Tactical - Medium Duty Light, which arrived in the mail a few moths ago, and was seen on Breach-Bang-Clear then, but I wanted to give it a bit more thorough a review, because it's come to be a reliable go-to light here in the bunker.

This is the aptly-named Medium Duty Light by First Tactical.

I usually use flashlights that are rechargeable directly, like my now defunct  HEXBright.

Sometime though, you just want some stock-standard batteries pulled out of old TV remotes, drumming bunnies or personal upper-thigh massagers. AA's are everywhere, and the MDL takes them.

Read the rest here on Breach Bang & Clear ...


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Review: Back Country Cuisine - Cooked Breakfast

Here is the fourth and final chapter in my "instant meals" pieces that I've been covering. The first was the Outdoor Gourmet Butter Chicken, which was delicious, the Back Country Cuisine Roast Chicken which was passable, the Outdoor Gourmet Tandoori Chicken, which was also delicious and now the last entry of the four I had collected to sample, the Back Country Cuisine Cooked Breakfast.

Billed as a "satisfying beef bacon, scrambled egg in a hash brown potato mix served with baked beans" I wanted to have non-dinner one to try, to give a range of meal options in my mix, so it seemed like a simple enough addition.

As with the other three meals, the Cooked Breakfast consisted of a full meal, freeze-dried to preserve them, and make for a light-weight, portable and stable foodstuff. In the freeze drying process, crystals of frozen ice in the food are sublimed (evaporated) to water vapour in a vacuum chamber.

This produces a completely dry food that allows water to quickly get into the pores left by the ice crystals to give a juicy, tender food product when reconstituted. After packing, the Back Country Cuisine meals are heat-sealed in their foil pouches from which all the air has been removed and replaced with nitrogen. This keeps the food safe and "fresh" for at least three years without the need for preservatives.

The Cooked Breakfast meal weighs 90g dry, and requires 250mL of hot water, and comes with a second retort within the main pouch, which contains the haricot baked beans component of the meal. Once cooked, this is a 340g (12oz) meal, and again, it is quite possible to eat the whole meal in the bottom half of the retort, which comes with a "tear-here" notch for ease of use, to change it from a cook-pot into a bowl. Splitting the boiling water between the main component, and the beans, re-sealing and waiting for 10 minutes to reconstitute produces the meal.

Nutritionally, the meal provides 1702kJ (408Cal) as a unit, which breaks down to 501kJ (120Cal) per 100g, and equates to 20% or the recommended daily allowance.

However. This is probably the worst instant meal I have ever tasted. The egg was simultaneously stiff and spongy, and tasteless like foam. The bacon beef was not even TVP standard, the hashbrown mix was mush and the beans. The beans. The tasteless, white, sauceless beans didn't rehydrate, and were still hard and dry in the retort, and didn't further reconstitute with additional water.

This is one of my rare negative reviews. This was terrible. Not only that, but I became very ill shortly after eating it, and I had to go home from work following eating it early in the afternoon. I was sick for a couple of days. It wasn't even tasty. Sure, it might not have been the BCC Cooked Breakfast, but I'll not be having another one. So, 2:2, the OGC meals were 2/2 delicious, the BCC meals were one passable, one awful and sick-making. Certainly not what I would have wanted if I had been out bush, or living in the Bunker.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: SpifyLab - Sparky

FIRE FIRE FIRE. I do so like fire starters and other goodies, and I was intrigued when an electric firestarter came past my way. This was the next in the line from SpiffyLab, who were the minds behind the Tactical Sharpie Marker I covered a while back. This is certainly a design from the same lineage, and the two tools could certainly sit side by side and look like a set.

The Sparky by SpiffyLab is an electric firestarter, designed to ignite steel wool, and nothing else. The principle has been known for some time, with a small battery, anything from a AAA up to a D cell, or a 9V, and fine grade steel-wool, you can ignite the steel wool by running the charge through it, and the resistance to power ratio heats the wire up.

The Sparky uses two (2) AAA batteries to ignite steel wool. The 'Sparky' produces about 3.0-3.5 volts which is more than enough voltage to ignite steel wool or even a foil gum wrapper. It is designed with a twist cap, clip, knurled grips, and O-Rings to resist dirt and moisture in several spots. It is built with a tough, lightweight aluminium body, and a copper conductor tip.
It features a solid copper conductor tip, for optimal conductivity as next to silver, copper, is the most conductive metal. The aluminium body Sparky weighs in at just under 90g (3.1oz), with battery and the overall length is about 16cm (6.5") long and is 1.6cm (0.625") in diameter.

Interestingly, the Sparky is safe to touch and is vented. Even when exposed, the conductor tip and body can be touched without any harm coming to the user, due to the low power of the batteries, and the nature of skin conductivity. Just replace the cap when not in use to reduce accidental discharge.
So you might be continuing to ask "How can Sparky ignite steel?"

By touching the positive and negative "terminals" on the Sparky (the copper conductive tip, and the threaded aluminium body) to steel wool sends a current through the wool, and it heats up the fine "wires" because of resistance. The heated temperature causes the iron to react with the oxygen (O2) in the air and creates iron oxide (FeO2).

This reaction releases heat, heating up the next bit of iron and so on, causing a cascading reaction through the steel wool. It runs visibly through
the bundle of steel wool like a fuse, and as it burns through, you have your chance to use it to ignite your kindling, as you would with other firestarting methods.

As the makers point out, the science of this is pretty cool, even if a bit gimmicky. I managed to get the Sparkey to work easily enough, but getting it to catch on tinder was a little trickier, due to the nesting way the steel wool burns, keeping the burning steel away from tinder. However, it did work, after some fiddling. I expect it would work to ignite iron filings too, and probably work well to set thermite off as well (I didn't have any one hand to test ...).

Needing a very specific fuel to initiate the ignition, this is a pretty niche product, but, if you happened to want a low physical-effort firestarter, and have the capacity to store appropriately fine steel wool, this is an effective tool, especially if you had a surplus of AAA batteries not useful for anything else.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...