Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Camoflague in an Aussie setting

A while ago I had the thought to take a bunch of my camo gear out into the bush and do a compare and contrast of several different colour and pattern schemes. I also wanted to do so to show off the kinds of terrain I can expect to encounter in my local region and showcase that for you all.

In my collection I have the following,
3-Colour Desert Cam
AUSCAM DCPU hearts and bunnies
British Woodland DPM
US Woodland

All laid out, they make a pretty discordant pile ...

Read the rest of my findings on Breach Bang & Clear

Brown in the Scrub

3-Colour Desert Cam in the Scrub

Arid AUSCAM DCPU in Scrub

AUSCAM DCPU in the Scrub

Woodland DPM in the Scrub
Woodland in the Bush
Multicam in the Scrub

ATACS-AU in the Scrub

Brown in the bush

3-Colour Desert Cam in the Bush
Arid AUSCAM DCPU in the Bush
AUSCAM DCPU in the Bush
Woodland DPM in the Bush
Woodland in the Bush
ATACS-AU in the Bush
Multicam in the Bush


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wish Lust: Disgruntled Deck

Just surviving the Apocalypse isn't necessarily enough, sometimes morale is needed, and keeping spirits up can be key to that. Games make an excellent tool for doing that, and something as simple as a deck of cards have been included in packs and duffels for a long, long time for that very reason. A deck of 52 though, lacks a certain humorous element, which is where something like Cards Against Humanity comes in. However, they themselves lack a certain saltyness, which is where the Kickstarter for Disgruntled Decks excels.  
Disgruntled Decks is a card game for military service members and grizzled Veterans who enjoy getting together and laughing about their time in the service. Disgruntled Decks can be played by itself or integrated with a Cards Against Humanity deck.
The creators titled this first deck "The Army Edition" because it features some topics that would be familiar to U.S. Army Soldiers and Veterans. However, there are more than enough general military cards to make the game enjoyable for service members and Veterans from any branch of the armed forces.

The game works just like the now very popular Cards Against Humanity game.
The "Card Commander" will read aloud an OD green Mission Card and "Subordinate" players will submit their grey Course of Action (COA) cards with possible answers.
The Card Commander chooses the best COA regardless of the Subordinates' opinions, just like in the military! You win by having the most COAs chosen. It's that simple!

The deck is composed of 90 OD green Mission Cards and 310 grey Course of Action cards. For those with poor ASVAB scores, that equals 400 cards!
Here's a fun fact about the card design:
- The font is a typewriter font found on portable typewriters used during WWII. In other words, your grandpa killed Nazis and then typed out his AAR or a love letter in this font. Nice.
Another really nice thing about this project is in the backer levels, you can opt to get a set for yourself, and have another gifted to a wounded veteran, bringing some much needed dark joy to someone who could probably do with some.
Disgruntled Decks is shipping to selected non US locations, so I jumped on it, but if you don't need outside of US shipping, and are keen on adding another similar project, you could also look into War Games LLC's FUBAR, another salty and dark, military themed game, which is also cross compatible with Cards Against humanity.
Or get both, get extra fun-times for your stretch in the bunker!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: BackCountryCuisine Instant meals - Roast Chicken

As my second part in the four dehydrated meals reviews I have been doing,  I will cover the Backcountry Cuisine "Roast Chicken" meal.

The first of these reviews, on the Outdoor Gourmet Butter Chicken meal was published on Breach Bang Clear, and I had some interesting feedback on it. Go check it out here... The principle is the same, the plasticised foil retort is both the cook-pot, the serving dish and eating bowl.

The Roast Chicken meal weighs in at 175g (6.2oz) tender chicken in little squares, vegetables and stuffing smothered in gravy and then served with the mashed potato. You simply add 220mL of hot water to the mashed potato sachet and 250mL hot water to the chicken meal sachet, stir and let stand for 10 minutes. The result is a delicious hot meal wherever you may be.

About half way down the retort a second tear tab on all pouches allows you to tear the lower perforation and use the pouch as a bowl once the food has reconstituted. It's a great idea and saves getting messy hands when using your spoon or fork, but be sure to tear carefully or you can make a hot mess of the meal. It might even be an idea to cut it into a bowl, to be sure. You have a knife with you, right?

The mashed potato comes in a separate retort, stored inside the main retort, which is good in that it allows you to serve it separately and keeps it from becoming a thick sludgy mess. I found the texture of the main meal to be really appealing, with the mashed potato being fairly standard for instant mash. The flavour balance was good, and it wasn't too salty.

The waiting time wasn't too bad, especially from water brought to a fast simmer, through to eating it only took 15 minutes.
One thing that I found was important, but not required was to have a flat surface to plop them down on as they are reconstituting, but the retorts fan-out from the bottom as part of their design, but I think they did better from standing up than laying down. One good thing however, was that the zip-lock top seal allows you to squeeze-mix the contents to reconstitute your food. This made me feel like an astronaut, given food served on the ISS.

Nutritionally, the whole meal makes up 1549 kJ (370 Cal) which Back Country Cuisine state is 18% daily intake requirement, so it's not a hefty food source, but being light, you could pack a bunch of them, and if you had three a day, that's 54%, so don't leave out the snacks when you're packing.

One thing I found was that the mashed potato didn't quite reconstitute properly, and when I spooned it out, I found some dry patches, but by mixing it up when in a separate bowl, it all came good. All in all, this was a really good meal and I enjoyed it, it was tasty.

Well worth adding to your pack if you are wanting to travel light, but also want a home-cooked style meal.

Be sure to pack enough potable water, or have access to enough wherever you are going, and enough to balance out your hydration as you go.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Viking Hardware piece

Raiding season is fast approaching, and many of you are yearning for adventure, salt-spray on your faces and the chance to prove your honor and win glory such that your forefathers and old-fathers  will sing your name and your children will ask to hear the stories again in the long winter of next winter.

But where you might find yourself loading up with kevlar and lead-spitting black rifles, and hopping in and out of HUVEE or MRAP, crossing seas aboard a C-130 or C-5, I thought I might cast your minds back some 1000 years to another group of hard-handed and steely eyed warriors plying their trade, by blood, fire and steel, as well as actual tradeable goods, the Vikings. I wanted to tell you a little about their wargear, and why it worked so well for them.

Read the rest on Breach Bang & Clear ...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

First Impressions review: First Tactical - MDL

Here's a quick "first impressions" piece on one of two items that arrived in my pouch from the good folks at First Tactical. First Tactical is an exciting new business founded by Dan Costa, founder of 5.11 Tactical, to meet the needs of all kids of Public Safety professionals with new, innovative ideas and products in the tactical industry. But enough of the waffle, let's see the light.

Read more about the First Tactical - Medium Duty Light here, on Breach Bang & Clear

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: HHA ASOT-01

I've finally gotten my hands on one of the much desired Hardcore Hardware Australia ASOT-01's for my very own, as part of my Giftmas haul, and I'm finally getting around to telling you about it, now that I have had it in my grabby-hands for a little while. I had covered this blade after it came out in a Wish-Lust piece, as well as getting to pay with one again at the SSAA SHOT show.
We have a few of the HHA items in the household, with a TWI-02 Tactical Writing Implement , and two of their smaller knives, the LFK-05 and LFK-02 blades.
Putting my three most similar blades together, you can see how the ASOT-01 compares to with the ZU Bladeworx Mekanik and the very deadly Benchmade SOCP CQB.
The distinct bevelled ring design of the ASOT-01 enhances the tool's accessibility and comfort, making it exceptionally fast and easy to draw. The ring is very comfortable, and the inwards scalloping wasn't at all troublesome as I had thought it might have been. The ring, much like that of the SOCP also enables transition to a rifle or hand-gun with no disconnection between the tool and firearm.
That scalloped thumb recess at the top of the ring supports a positive grip and for the application of downward force, opening cans of whoop-ass and the like.
Unique to the ASOT-01 is its "live edge identifier" knob at three quarters along the length of the handle. This enables the user to quickly identify the position of the single-sided cutting edge by feel. Good for in the dark, or when your blade is obscured. I really liked this feature, it made for a fast steady draw as well as keeping it firmly in the right orientation.
The personalised mounting provided with the ASOT is based on the ambidextrous kydex sheath it comes with along with Tek-Lok and Molle-Lok mounting options. Customised for vertical, horizontal or angled wear the mounting is further expanded by the provision of eyelet holes along both sides of the sheath to facilitate alternative attachment to the body or gear with paracord, cable ties or the like.
With its low profile design which allows the tool to be sandwiched on or behind magazine/accessory pouches, or horizontally along the belt line to maintain optimum concealment and retention. However, the sheath adds considerable width, which limits where you can place it somewhat, but not so much as to be impossible.
Made from 6mm (0.236") D2 tool steel stock, it can withstand some substantial impact without loss of sharpness. Halfway down the sharp edge, serrations have been cut into the blade to aid in the performance for more demanding cutting tasks.
The blade is 100 mm (3.93") long, with an overall length of 198 mm (7.79") and 27 mm (1.06") wide. When its its widest, it's 40 mm (1.57") wide. The blade with it's G10 handles weighs in at 120 g (0.26 lb) which is not bad for the size it is. The D2 steel is thick, and dense, but the very narrow throat and ringed end.
In its friction locked sheath, its 205 mm (8.07") long, and 60 mm (2.36") wide and weighs in at 160 g (0.35 lb). Again, the width makes it much more like a belt knife rather than the dagger effect of the SOCP.
The ASOT-01 is a non-prohibited design, single edged but ready to grind down on the back side of the blade, something the guys at Platatac have told me that Operational Operators Operating have been known to do. As always with this kind of knife, please check your local State laws in relation to knife ownership and carry.
[EDIT - 26/2/2016]
The good folks at Hardcore Hardware Australia dropped me a line with several words of caution, and I'm only too happy to agree with them -
"Josh, we do not advocate the re-grinding of our tools; such practices void HHA’s warranty. What you are suggesting in your review in this regard also constitutes a breach of Victoria State Law; I would be inclined to re-think this approach. Thank you in advance for your co-operation. HHA"
I'd rather touch-up a paining in a gallery with a crayon than re-grind one of their blades myself, it's nerve-wracking enough to sharpen them right.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: TrueUtility - FIXR

This is a fun little tool that was sent to me by the folks at True Utility, who stock all number of nifty gadgets and gizmos. I've been keeping it in my pocket along with my pocket EDC for the last few months, finding uses here and there, and I thought I might tell you a little about it here.

It's only a little tool, and only fit for small tasks, but there are times when only a small tool is required and having something that is "just so" is all you need.

This is the20 tools in 1 FIXR by True Utility.

Constructed of a black titanium coated, 422 grade stainless steel with a silver stainless steel disc, rotating on sprung stainless steel ball bearings - The FIXR is a flat, light, strong, and definitely useful tool.

Formed around a wire-gated carabiner, it will clips to a variety of narrow loops, hooks and straps and is always ready for use, with a considerable array of tools crammed within a very small small space. The brass rotating tool plate serves to protect and keep all the tools safe when the FIXR is not in use.

It simply twists with a push of the thumb on its sprung bearings to click definitively into set positions to use the driver bits, nail cleaner, extra sockets, razor sharp cutter and wire stripper.

A full breakdown of the tools is:

1. Wire-gated carabiner
2. Bottle Opener
3. Nail Cleaner
4. Large Flat Screwdriver
5. Medium Flat Screwdriver
6. Small Flat Eyeglass Screwdriver
7. Medium Phillips Screwdriver
8. Small Phillips Screwdriver
9. 14mm Spanner/Wrench
10. 12mm Spanner/Wrench
11. 10mm Spanner/Wrench
12. 8mm Spanner/Wrench
13. 6mm Spanner/Wrench
14. Bicycle Spoke Wrench
15. Cutting Blade
16. Wire Stripper (by combining the blade with the notch of the tool disk)
17. cm Ruler
18. Box Opener
19. Pry Bar
20. File

I would have put the file along one of the thin edges so you could use it as a metal-cutting tool, but it certainly works to round off any rough edges of things you might find bothering you. Wire, glass, ceramic, fingernails or teeth, it's surprisingly bitey.

The FIXR has proven itself worth the space it takes in my pocket, and I've mended a number of things, opened packages, and pried a few stuck items with it. Smaller than a multitool but still packing a fair number of useful items in one little package, if you want a "forget about it till you need it" tool this certainly fits the bill.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Wish-Lust: Kickstarter - PACE lid

 I love modular and multi-purpose kit, and if I can get and everyday piece of equipment like a drink bottle to do double duty adds a significant thumbs-up from me.

This Kickstarter project, from GoRuck badass, and innovating outdoorsman, Chris Way.

This is the PACE lid, and it's Kickstarter is underway.

PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. When planning for events in life you have to expect that unforeseen things may happen and knowing this is empowering.

The container in the PACE lid is 300mL (10oz), it's deep enough for an ID or credit card as well as a variety of other gear.

The container is 7.6cm (3") in diameter and 5.7cm (2.25") inches deep. There's a small well around the perimeter that can secure items vertically and in place if they are bent, like cards, matches, other gear items. It's a feature Chris designed in and finds very useful in certain loading particular items in.

So far Chris and his team have tested the PACE lid and found it forms a water tight seal on wide mouth Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Hydroflask, and MSR bottles.   I have a couple of Nalgene's so their perfect for me.

The prototypes seen here are apparently 3D printed, but the production models will be tooled plastics.

As well as the lids themselves, Chris is offering a pre-filled First Aid PACE, stocked with products from MedTraining Group, who specialize in non-permissive First Response fitting and training. 

If you're super keen, high-end backers can also get training and adventure time with the PACE team, so there are all kinds of benefits to backing this project, big or small.

For me though, it's all about the lids, and stowing my gear, wherever I go.

Be sure to check it out and hopefully, we can get it over the line.

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