Tag: gear

Everything you need to know about flashlights

A high-quality, reliable flashlight is one of the core bits of gear you must have on you at all times. You already know this, right?

Here’s the problem: when you go to Amazon and look at flashlights, there are 123,529 different choices ranging from $149 to $3.99. How do you know what to buy?

I’m not an expert on this topic, so instead of prattling at you I’ll share with you the best guide to flashlights I’ve ever read. The Outdoor Nerd does a GREAT job of breaking the whole subject down.

Stay tuned for my personal favorite flashlights…

Kershaw Leek vs. Kershaw Blur

The Kershaw Leek and the Kershaw Blur are two of my absolute favorite folding knives. I’ve owned and carried both for years. A lot of my pals have asked me which I prefer.

Well, it’s complicated.

So, instead of giving my explainer talk over and over, I decided to write this post to help my friends (and total strangers — welcome!) choose between these two outstanding folding knives.

tl;dr version

The Kershaw Leek is better for most people most of the time. However, the Blur is more robust.

The Kershaw Leek (1660) in detail

Specifications

Steel: Sandvik 14C28N

Blade: modified drop-point

Lock: frame lock

Opening: SpeedSafe ambidextrous assisted w/thumb stud and flipper

Pocket clip: reversible (left/right and up/down)

Blade length: 3″ (7.6 cm)

Closed length: 4″ (10.3 cm)

Open length: 7″ (17.9 cm)

Weight: 3 oz. (85 g)

Official website | Amazon

Review

The Kershaw Leek was the bestseller in Amazon’s camping folding knives category for a couple years. In many ways, it’s the ideal gentleman folder.

Pros

CRAZY wicked sharp out of the box. If you haven’t handled a modern folding knife recently, be careful or you’ll have a new set of scars to show your grandkids.

VERY slim and light. Excluding pocket clip, the knife’s thickness is about 3/16″ and you won’t even notice it once it’s in your pocket.

SUPER fine point suitable for VERY detailed work.

Blade is sturdy enough for light and medium duty.

Excellent steel.

Frame lock is quite sturdy, as locks go.

Lifetime warranty and free factory sharpening forever.

SpeedSafe opening is so fast and easy that a lot of people will think you have a West Side Story-style switchblade. Legally, these are NOT switchblades because they require you to push on the blade (either the stud or the flipper, the little nub under the blade) to initiate opening. HOWEVER you might theoretically find yourself in the position of trying to explain the fine points of knife opening methods laying on your face on the sidewalk with a policeman’s knee digging into the small of your back… So please be aware of your local knife laws and the law enforcement culture of your area.

Cons

The super fine point is fragile, and if you aren’t careful it will snap off. (You won’t lose much metal, but that needle-sharp tip will be gone.)

There’s no texture on the handle which means if your hands are wet, or if you sweat a lot, you’ll need a firm grip. Other models of the Leek incorporate more texture and different materials in the grip.

The bottom line

If you aren’t sure what to buy, get a Leek. You won’t regret it.

Kershaw Blur (S30V) in detail

Specifications

SteelS30V

Blade: recurved

Lock: frame lock

Opening: SpeedSafe ambidextrous assisted w/thumb stud and flipper

Pocket clip: reversible (left/right and up/down)

Blade length: 3.4″ (8.6 cm)

Closed length: 4.5″ (11.4 cm)

Open length: 7.9″ (20 cm)

Weight: 4 oz. (113.4 g)

Official website | Amazon

Review

The Kershaw Blur is larger, burlier, and beefier in every way than the Leek. There’s nothing delicate about this knife. Even the point (the Leek’s weakness) is more robust. The Blur is the knife I recommend for folks who are going to use their blade for a lot of medium-duty or a few heavy-duty tasks.

Pros

TOTALLY bulletproof construction. Robust and heavy blade VERY unlikely to fail. Good quality steel.

Trac-Tec grip-tape inserts give the handle a ton of texture and make it VERY easy to keep hold of. The texture isn’t abrasive, just grippy.

Cons

Blade length over 3″ (which makes it illegal some places… KNOW YOUR LAWS).

Cosmetically, this knife looks scary. Whereas the Leek is a Southern gentleman in a white linen suit reading the newspaper in a rocking chair, the Blur is a well-dressed bodybuilder with sleeve tattoos and a vaguely angry look on his face. Your Blur will get noticed, for good or for bad.

The bottom line

An absolutely solid knife, strongly recommended for heavier use, or more difficult duties the Leek might not be up for. Because of the optics, NOT recommended for everyone.

What do you think?

Do you prefer the Blur over the Leek? Or think I’m a jerk for even mentioning these two knives instead of your absolute favorite _____ ? Take a minute and let me know in the comments below.

Silly as a $70 carabiner

Regular readers know about my love/hate relationship with EverydayCarry. Today, I’m leaning more toward the dark side

Today’s featured product, the Ti2 HALO super-carabiner, is a Kickstarter project aiming to add functionality to, well, something that’s already pretty damned functional.

Looks sweet, doesn’t it? And who can argue with packing a little more utility into an item you’re going to have with you every day?

Well, color me skeptical. The emphasis on steampunk-inspired design, titanium construction, and especially the $69 pricepoint tell me how important style is to the creators.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t hate beautiful things. There’s no way I’m going to shell out that kind of cash for a carabiner, though, no matter how nicely it matches my vintage cowhide-and-brass EDC porn.

Ti2 — the masterful metalworkers out of Hawaii — have shown that there’s utility to be squeezed out of something as simple as a metal hook. Their latest product is the HALO, a collaboration between Ti2s Mike Bond and knifemaker Jesper Voxnaes. On the surface, its a collection of colorful carabiners, but a closer look reveals a capable tool worthy of your carry.The HALO series doesn’t use cheap, flimsy metals. The carabiners are made from grade 5 titanium for fantastic strength-to-weight ratio, Tellerium copper for that timeless patina, high-strength 614 alloy bronze, and the rare zirconium with its unique and desirable finish. These materials let the HALO become a prized addition to even the most exotic EDCs. It’s titanium gate comes anodized to match its body’s material, and can be ambidextrously opened for ease of attachment. The HALOs full-sized outer frame comes with generous jimping for an improved grip. This is especially helpful when using its bottom pry edge, which comes hollow-milled for strength in cutting, chiseling, and similar tasks. It also has two keychain attachment points to accommodate all your carry configurations. A carabiner is just a carabiner, right? Wrong, as the HALO shows — it can also be the most useful and stylish thing to hook onto your belt loop. Pick one up in your choice of material at the Kickstarter link below.

Source: HALO Carabiner | Everyday Carry

What Gear Should I Carry in My Car at All Times? | Outside Online

I really enjoy Outside magazine, even though I’m inherently suspicious of their REI-fuelled obsession with really expensive gear. (I mean, who pays $100 for a pair of pants?)

All that aside, I find quite a bit of interesting information in Outside. Refreshingly, it isn’t obsessed with apocalyptic end-times the way a lot of prep/survival resources are. They have much more of a hedonistic, upper-middle-class, adventure-in-comfort vibe.

Here are their recommendations for a car-based emergency kit. Personally I wouldn’t waste time with the GSI Javapress (Starbucks Via instant coffee does the job and tastes better than just about any coffee I’ve ever brewed, anyway)

Everything you need for adventures, or mishaps, on the road

Source: What Gear Should I Carry in My Car at All Times? | Outside Online

CountyComm: the strangest stuff

CountyComm is one of the strangest websites I’ve ever stumbled across in my prepping research. It’s an ecommerce site and looks like it was built at 3am by someone’s nephew in Netscape Navigator Editor 3.0 circa 1995. I really don’t hold that against them… much.

CountyComm manufacturers specialty products for government agencies and only sells overruns on this website. Based on its design, the site probably makes <1% of the company’s total sales.

What makes CountyComm different? They have a constantly changing selection of strange stuff. Including, last time I checked:

  • Combination reflective/glow-in-the-dark tape
  • Solid brass tactical pens that don’t look tactical
  • Clutch beads for paracord zipper pulls
  • Compact trauma shears

and so on.

What’s the unifying theme? Well, really nothing except that these are exceptionally useful items (okay, the utility of the clutch beads is debatable). The assortment is exactly what you’d expect from a company that’s only offering accidental production overruns for sale to the public.

They do stock high-quality items. And they do sell stuff you wont find anywhere else.

Unfortunately, you cant count on CountyComm to have what you want, when you want it. So you’ll want to check in pretty often (better yet, set up a Google Alert and get notified when they update the website).

If you see something you want, order immediately. Don’t hesitate.

Form Card: Gear Repairs On-the-fly

Some time ago, I stumbled across an IndieGoGo campaign for a product that interested me quite a bit. Form Card is a reusable thermoplastic delivered in a credit-card-sized quantity. Activate it in hot water, mold it to your application, and let it cool. When hot, the thermoplastic adheres to other plastics for a more durable patch or repair. The demo video demonstrates a couple of other interesting applications:

  • creating an impromptu wrench by molding the plastic around a hex nut
  • making a quick screwdriver by molding the plastic around a Phillips bit

The best part is, it’s totally reusable (unlike Sugru, my other favorite “moldable glue”). Each Form Card also contains a much larger amount of product than the tiny Sugru packets I have tucked away in my micro-EDC bag.

These next-generation glues really fascinate me. I love their universal applications even more than I love being able to repair or improvise important items on-the-go.

The only drawback I see to Form Card is its activation requirement: you need to heat it up (probably with hot water, as demonstrated in the video) to activate it. Hot water’s pretty much unversally available in our daily lives, and not particularly difficult to get even in an emergency situation… However, I’d recommend having, at a minimum, duct tape handy, as well as a couple of packets of Sugru, on the off chance you don’t have time or fuel to improvise hot water.

The prepper mindset encourages us to be ready to improvise — to carry the minimum toolset for maximum effectiveness. Gear with a small form-factor and a vast array of applications belong in our EDC kits as well as our bug-out bags. We prefer general-application gear that performs a wide variety of tasks adequately over specific-application gear that only does one or two things well (with a couple of notable exceptions).

So, check out Form Card for yourself. Think about how many ways you could use it in an emergency situation — from improvising gear to repairing or improving your existing gear. Think of an awesome use? Let me know in the comments.