Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wish Lust - Survival Hardware - Baccy Pouch

In  a departure from my usual kind of review item I wanted to show some love for one of my co-authors for Breach Bang Clear , David "Norseman" Williams. Norseman has a very popular YouTube channel that I am very fond of.  
As well as tutoring in outdoors skills, Norseman is also an accomplished smith and leatherworker. His small businesses  Survival Hardware LLC - makes Hard tools for hard times. Based in Idaho, USA.
As well as knives and sheathes, wallets and one such piece is this, the hand crafted Baccy pouch.
 Handmade from rugged pull-up type leather that will give you an appealing aged look.
The cowhide is lightweight, yet very durable, as it is chrome tanned.
The Baccy Pouch is designed as a tobacco pouch, has two generous pockets inside, one to keep your loose tobacco in and your smoking accruments in the other. 
Now, I'm not  a smoker and I'm not promoting or endorsing it , but I am an avid tea drinker and I figure this would be a good way of keeping my tea in good order, dry and in one spot. I envisage keeping bags and/or loose leaf tea in one pouch and strainers in the other.

The pouch rolls up and is secured with a leather strap.  It is hand stitched with medium weight, 
4 ply twisted and waxed polyester thread. This pouch should be very long lasting and provide a rustic, aesthetically pleasing storage for all your dried consumables.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Movie Reviews : Pandemic, Hell, Ravenous

I took the two weeks after Easter off work to be home over the school holidays. I managed to squeeze some apocalyptic movies into my allotted couch potato time when impressionable eyes were elsewhere. I promptly lost this post...   Here's what I thought:

Title:  Pandemic
Year: 2016
Director: John Suits
Origin: USA
Mood: Grim
Style: dark First Person Shooter, suspenseful
Apocalypse Type: Zombie plague
Apocalypse Level: Almost absolute. Total social breakdown.
Antagonists: Cannibalistic bite-infecting fast zombies
Protagonists: mixed military civilian Search & Rescue crew
Outcome: Grim.

CDC doctor embedded with a military refuge in LA is sent out on a Search and Rescue mission to extract the team send to a school supposedly full of survivors. Its established her family live in LA and she suspects are still alive. The 5 stages of infection are established: 1) Flu like 2)debilitating bronchitis 3)aggressive and conscious 4) death-like coma 5) fast hyper aggressive zombie. Infection is spread by exposure and bites. S&R crews equipped with biohazard suits including suit radios and helmet cams with green screen night-vision option. Teams include a medical specialist, a driver, a shotgun equipped gunner and a red-shirt navigator.

It is established that a vaccine is available to combat a Level 1 infection but is in limited supply and only available for the Dr. The crew is expendable. A “field infection test” gun is available to determine if survivors are infected. The Crew is sent out in a modified school-bus to retrieve the previous crew and any survivors from the school and along the way are attacked by swarms of Level 1-3 infected, including a honey-pot roadside trap. Combat is handled via FPS style helmet-cam vision which is a decided improvement over hand-held “found footage” handy-cam shakey-cam styles often used in the genre.

Relegated to foot travel and separated, the team struggles to make it back to the compound alive, battling the infected with improvised weapons, the crew locates the Dr’s daughter and eventually make it back to the compound in a scavenged ambulance with heavy casualties. An enjoyable if predictable zombie plague movie with some nice hooks, and not too many “close the damn door” stupid movie trope survivor errors. The medical science may have been flakey and the crew certainly wasn’t a front line unit, but they weren’t pitched as one either but it was a realistic enough “get it done” movie.

Title:  Hell
Year: 2011
Director: Tim Fehlbaum
Origin: German-Swiss
Mood: Grim, Gitty  dystopian escape and evacuation road-tip
Style: stark and bleak
Apocalypse Type: Environmental disaster. Drought, famine, scorched Earth
Apocalypse Level: Almost absolute. Total social breakdown. Near total Biosphere destruction
Antagonists: the Sun, other survivors and scavengers
Protagonists: family of survivors
Outcome: Grim.

Final Thoughts: get some effective hand weapons that you can use!

An upswing in solar activity has blasted the Earth, baking the surface, evaporating water leading to widespread drought, famine and death. In typical Mad Max style, survivors scour the wasteland for food, fuel and water in a cramped and stuffed station-wagon with bars on the windows. Goggles and dust masks are all the rage. Desperate survivors battle lone hermits for petrol station supplies and we get an idea that exposure to the sun leads to 2nd and 3rd degree burns and blindness rapidly. Some excellent post-apoc scavenging in the checking of toilet tanks and hydronic radiators for good water! Poor personal security movie-tropes made me yell at the screen.

Downed power pylon over-road made for an excellent improv road-block and ambush point, but removing it was not when I would have chosen to teach my child-survivor how to drive. Good scavenge the flipped wreck scene gave an opportunity to “split the party” as well as a chance for a piss-break to establish the adult female got her period and was not-pregnant, contraception being an issue often overlooked in survival movies.  

Raiders kidnap the child and in the ensuing pursuit the male survivor badly breaks his ankle. Taking shelter in a mountain side rail tunnel the female lead sets off alone to rescue her sister and “get help”. She encounters survivors who operate a farm and discover they are cannibals, escaping a “marry-in or get eaten” proposal, the ensuing flight through open ground sheds some of the “sun is a murder ball” tension built up earlier.

The survivors take shelter in a cave in which they find a ready source of water. Survival looks bleak but possible.

Final Thoughts: better married to a cannibal than served to one as dinner

Title:  Ravenous ( Fr. Les Affam├ęs)
Year: 2017
Director: Robin Aubert
Origin: Fernch Canadian
Mood: Suspenseful, realistic setting
Style: believable escape and evacuation road-trip
Apocalypse Type: Infectious Zombie plague
Apocalypse Level: Almost absolute. Total social breakdown. Zombie swarms
Antagonists: Cannibalistic bite-infecting fast zombies
Protagonists: family of survivors with kids
Outcome: Grim.
In the woods in rural Quebec a farmstead is holding out against the zombies by being vigilant, quiet and risk-adverse. Two adult male friends patrol in a pickup truck until lone is lost. The survivor finds a bound woman with a suspicious bite mark who claims it was a dog not zombie. He befriends her and takes her with him. They encounter   a small girl and take her in.  Returning to the farmhouse they encounter a group of zombies building towers out of trash in a peculiar ritual. They accidentally alert the swarm of their presence and their flight leads the swarm to their farmstead. Instead of barricading and bugging-in the opt to bug-out and go cross country to a cold-war bunker they are aware of.

Taking limited supplies from the dwindling larder of the farmstead the survivors make a harrowing flight through woodlands relying on bush-craft and stealth to avoid roaming zombies and other hazards. Good use of hand weapons ( machete and hatchets) to avoid the noisy pump-action shotgun. They escape detection by mimicking the zombies carrying items to the ritual piles and eventually make it to the bunker only to discover its been stripped bare of resources. A note suggesting  a direction to search for more survivors is discovered before the swam arrives and decimates the survivors. (They didn’t close the bunker either).

Final thoughts and lessons: They should have bugged-in where they could. A stocked trap-door cellar would probably have been secure against fast-but dumb zombie swarms.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Review: ITW - Tac-Toggle

Continuing on my theme of cordage, I bring you the ITW Tac-Toggle. Toggles being one of the more ancient button options available to us it'as no surprise that the sharp eyes and nimble hands behind ITW have taken it from antler-tip, bone and stick into the realms of ballistic nylon.

So, what is it? A taper ended cylinder, with moulded-in notches and two holes in a recessed channel. All up it's just 1 1/2" (40mm) long and 6mm x 8mm thick. The holes are sized to accommodate paracord, but it's a snug fit and I found that melting a cut end to taper it to facilitate feeding it through. Thinner cord feeds without any issue and can even be pinched and fed through as a loop to fit to a strung line "on the bight".

As a line ending stopper on paracord, it's just a matter of feeding the line through both holes and feeding it back into itself.  This forms a very sturdy lock and uses very little cord, less than a stopper-knot for sure. The looped cord lays in the recess and holds the toggle perpendicular to the cord. 

As a stopper, the perpendicular end-knot only makes a sturdy gripping point between the fingers held in a fist, but also as an anchor. The width of the Toggle makes it very suitable for holding items in place through PALS/MOLLE channels. Feeding it in is as simple as turning the toggle 90 degrees and slipping it down through the channels. It is snag free and quick to deploy and detach whilst simultaneously being a sturdy attachment system without needing to tie paracord into the MOLLE directly.
Another way to feed cord into the two holes not as a stopper but along its length, such that the toggle lays parallel along the line and sits in place allowing the toggle to act as a hitching point for other lengths of cord. Pulling a length of line through the holes gives you loop of cord to hang things off, a series of these would give you a daisy chain of attachment points for all manner of gear. 

Simply having a toggle at the end of a line can also enhance the pull capability of cordage, with an improved grip on a toggle between the fingers over a knot or just bare cord. good for dressing lashings, hauling loads or compressing bundles. 

So, as well as securing things to to PALS/MOLLE  and acting as a tie-off point or tensioner on  guy line, I use one of the toggles to secure my wallet. I run a length of paracord from my  Hazard 4 Loader harness and have previously just used a stopper knot to secure it through a hole in the middle of the bill-fold section. I replaced the stopper knot with a Tac-Toggle and my wallet has neither slipped loose nor become dislodged. It also means I have a spare toggle in my EDC in case I need to work some cordage. It also wouldn't look out of place

All in all for a small piece of kit I'm impressed. It brings form and function, and the simple elegance of an ancient device in a modern format it brings  a lot to the table.

Fit two and you've got anchorage for a bow drill, or grips for hauling a sled up a hill. Fit one to a line and feed through a button hole for an unobtrusive  "deep carry" for a SERE kit like the Oscar Delta SPD

Friday, August 9, 2019

Review: NiteIze - CamJam

I love cordage and carabiners, and always keep an eye out for new systems. One such was coming up in my social media feeds were the CamJam Cord Tightener from NiteIze Innovation. The device is simple enough. a High-Density plastic hook, with a sping-wire gated closure, a cord feed hole, and a built-in toothed cam for binding and locking the cord under tension.  This particular version of the Cam-Jam is suited to 1/16th' (2mm) to 3/16th" (5mm) cordage and its feed hole is sized to accommodate this.  It weighs only a slight 1.69oz (16.00g) and measures 2.70" (68.57mm) x 1.35" (34.30mm ) x 0.58" (15.34mm).  The cam is a tear-drop shaped piece of the same material as the rest of the clip. It has a hollow on the underside which friction lock onto a knob on the body of the clip. A tensioning bar at the rear of the clip fits into a ridge on the back of the cam, presses the cam into the body.

On the "back-side" of the clip where the cord feed hole (the "eye") comes out has a channel to guide the cord "downwards" away from the clip. this ensures the standing end of the cord is held in parallel with the cam. This, in turn, maintains pressure on the cam, reducing lateral slippage on the working end.  This is important as the teeth of the cam are not especially aggressive nor is the tensioning bar especially tight.

The CamJam works by having anchored cord fed through the hole and passed beside the cam where the hole is, the clip end can the be clipped onto whatever it's being fixed to. The working end of the cord can be pulled taught through the eye and "set" with the cam. 

NiteIze recommends fitting some kind of stopper-knot on the working end. and I think some kind of hitch on the bright is the best way to go, to prevent total failure, should the cam-slip. Which it does, quite a bit.
One thing I found was that the Cam Jam did assist in belaying the line in order for me to set a more secure knot in place, such as a hitch on a bight or a truckers hitch. The "eye " and feed channel feature are useful regardless of the reliability of the cam and the spring wire clip of the carabiner might be light-duty but the whole unit is. It's not climbing rated, which means you don't want to put your life on the line with it.  
Have a bundle of firewood to haul? have a tarp or tent fly to secure? This should do the job. Need to lash the escape ship to a pier? Get a heftier tool. 

The CamJam Cord Tightener features the strong plastic body of a carabiner combined with a locking cam mechanism for a knot-free way to tighten, tension, and secure light loads. The CamJam can be clipped to fixed anchor points and the cam mechanism will lock cord in place with the desired amount of tension.   There is a smaller version of the Cam Jam, the CamJam Mini is meant to be used with cord 1.8mm - 3mm. Which is to say, dummy cord, hootchie cord  and guy lines and only weighs 0.18oz | 5.00gand measuring only  a slight 1.75" (44.60mm)x 0.90" (22.63mm) x 0.37"(9.50mm) but smaller and lighter doesn't really equate to stronger and chunkier, though the smaller cam does bite quite well on the paracord.

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