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Archive | EDC

GORUCK Adds New Color Options

GORUCK has a reputation for making some great gear and are especially well known for their backpacks. It used to be that you could get a GORUCK bag in any color that you wanted so long as it was black but now they have released 2 new color options: Sand (tan) and Multicam.

Check out the new color options at GORUCKGear.com.


Review: GearPods Survival Pro

When it comes to pre-assembled survival kits, the contents don’t seem to vary much from one kit to the next. Many kits use the same components from the same vendors or at least similar components. It is often the container itself that differentiates one kit from another. However, the GearPods Survival Pro is one kit that differentiates itself by its container and contents.

The GearPods container system is versatile, unique, and innovative.

The caps allow you to terminate a module, join modules to make a longer module, or join them as separate modules.


The bread and butter of GearPods is their innovative container design. The GearPods containers are translucent plastic tubes in various lengths that are capped at both ends. The caps can be end caps or couplers (open or closed style) that allow multiple tubes to be connected together. This tube form factor allows the GearPods to be carried like a water bottle and they can even function as a water bottle in a survival situation.

The Survival Pro kit is one of GearPods pre-assembled kits.  It comes with the container and several items packed inside that cover a variety of survival needs:

  • Navigation
  • Signaling
  • Fire starting
  • Water purification
  • Food gathering
  • Food preparation
  • Equipment repair

Removing the top reveals the cap on the cooking cup.

The Survival Pro kit contains two modules: the cup and the stove.

What’s Inside?

The list of items that the GearPods Survival Pro contains is extensive. There are many standard items that are survival kit mainstays and a handful of very innovative items that you won’t find anywhere else.

  • GearPods CookMug: Compact 4.0” anodized aluminum cooking mug/pot with snap-in lid
  • GearPods Stove: Solid fuel stove with windshield
  • Esbit® solid fuel tablets (2)
  • Rescue Flash™ signal mirror – 2″x3″ signal mirror with retro-reflective targeting, protective film, plastic sleeve and instructions
  • Fox40 Micro Safety™ – loud emergency whistle for signaling distress and communicating location
  • Spark-Lite™ – dependable, one-handed fire starter
  • Tinder-Quik™ (4) – weatherproof waterproof tinder that burns 1-2 minutes
  • NATO “Storm” Matches (10) – vacuum sealed, NATO-approved waterproof and windproof matches with striker
  • 20mm Liquid-filled button compass – simple navigation tool
  • Mini-LED flashlight – small keychain-type flashlight with rugged case and battery with 24+ hours of continuous use
  • Folding saw – light- to medium-use saw blade constructed of 18TPI steel for cutting wood and metal, and housed in a rugged handle
  • Folding knife – light- to medium- use knife with stainless steel razor blade and rugged handle
  • Katadyn Micropur-1 Water Tablets (6) – 1 tablet per 1 liter (33.8 fl oz) of water; effective against viruses, bacteria, guardia and cryptosporidium
  • Sterile, self-standing water bag (36 fl oz) – for pre-treatment water capture and storage
  • Heavy duty needle – for repairing clothes and gear
  • Heavy duty thread (50ft reel, 10 lbs BS) – for repairs and emergency line for fishing
  • Safety pins (2) – 2″ – for repairs, first aid or even improvised hooks for food procurement
  • Wire (8ft) – 0.02″ stainless steel wire, non-magnetic – use for repairs and snares
  • Braided nylon cord (25ft, 70lbs BS) – many uses including securing gear and building shelters
  • Fishing kit – 4 hooks, 2 split-shots and 1 snap swivel
  • Duct tape (2″x30″ 9mm) – many uses from first aid to repair
  • Weatherproof stationery – 2”x3” (4) – keeping logs, leaving messages, drawing maps
  • Pencil (with protective cap) – use with weatherproof stationery
  • Fresnel Lens (2″x3″) – redundant fire starting method
  • Waterproof and tearproof instructions – with illustrations (PDF)
  • Stuff Sac – with drawcord and fastener (2)

Cup module and contents

Stove module and contents

Observations from Use

I won’t talk about every item in depth. Much of what is contained in this kit are items that are already proven performers. GearPods has done a great job of sourcing quality components for this kit but the parts that really shine are the parts that they designed themselves.

The Survival Pro kit comes with a small cooking set that GearPods designed to fit their containers. The design of the cook set is ingenious. It consists of a small stove, a cup that nests into the stove top, and a windscreen. The stove is designed to work with fuel tablets like those from Esbit and has three legs that can be spread out to stabilize the whole unit. The cup has a heat resistant fabric ring at the top which makes it a bit easier to handle when it is hot and a concave bottom which helps catch and hold the heat from the stove.

The cook set can boil water fairly quickly, which isn’t really surprising since it is a relatively small cup. The set up and take down is very easy. The windscreen can be rolled tightly and inserted into the cup for storage but you should take some care when storing it because it will scratch and scuff the anodization on the cup. The fabric on the cup won’t make it possible to handle a cup full of boiling water but it does make it possible to handle the cup sooner than you would be able to without some protection from the heat.

The Survival Pro comes with an instruction sheet that contains valuable information like general survival tips and information about items in the kit. It is printed on a material that feels like Tyvek. That may seem like a small thing but it shows just how clever the folks at GearPods are. Tyvek is extremely difficult to tear and basically water-proof. Those are desirable attributes for something that may have to be used in adverse conditions.

Cup on stove

Many of the items in the kit allow for one handed use in the event of an injury. The Spark-Lite fire starter can be used with just one hand without much trouble. Additionally, the kit includes a rescue Flash signal mirror that has a retro-reflective aiming reticle which allows it to be used one handed (some mirrors require a second hand to aim).

The kit doesn’t include any shelter specific items but it does include items that can be used in shelter construction (cordage). An A-frame style shelter can be built without any tools or cordage if the right materials are present. You may want to consider supplementing the kit with a GearPods Shelter unit or at least carrying something like an emergency blanket/bivy, poncho, tarp, or similar item.

The kit itself is very efficiently packed. You will want to take note of how things are packed when you are using the various components or you may have some difficulty packing the contents. I played around with different configurations and there is some leeway with how you pack the kit but a little bit of care goes a long way. GearPods thoughtfully provided two small stuff sacks that hold every component of the kit except the cook set. These bags let you keep the kit components together and organized even if you are using the cookset.

Cup, stove, and wind screen

The kit contains some redundancy (the good kind). There are multiple ways of starting a fire, multiple ways of food gathering, multiple ways to purify water, and multiple repair items. Redundancy can be a very good thing in a survival kit. Take the fire starters for instance, you will likely find that the Tinder-Quik are a very easy and reliable fire-starting method. However, in situations when you have direct sunlight, you will want to use the Fresnel lens in order to conserve the Tinder-Quik tabs and matches. The redundant items allow you to conserve resources by choosing the tool for the job.

The kit itself is very easy to carry. It fits in most water bottle pouches or rides fairly unobtrusively in your pack. You can even add another small container module and it will still fit in most water bottle pouches. GearPods sent me an additional small module so I could see how the connectors work and I found that it was great for storing natural tinder that I foraged (something you may want to do immediately once you realize you are in a survival situation).

Wrap Up

The GearPods is a well-stocked kit with a good mix of innovative original components and proven standard components. Its water bottle-ish form factor is unique and functional. The cook set’s design is ingenious in how it fits the container format while still retaining a lot of functionality. Between the container and the contents, this is easily one of the most innovative survival kits on the market. Check out the Survival Pro on GearPods.com.

Disclosure: This kit was provided to me free of charge by GearPods as a “thank you” for mentioning their products on JTT.


Eberlestock Cherry Bomb and Secret Weapon

Eberlestock is well known for making backpacks that are designed to carry longarms. Their packs work very well for this task but they leave little doubt as to what the backpack is carrying. If you wanted something more discreet, you had to look elsewhere. That is no longer the case with Eberlestock’s introduction of the S25 Cherry Bomb and S34 Secret Weapon packs.

The Cherry Bomb and Secret Weapon packs are styled to look more discreet but they still offer the ability to conceal a long arm. Some so-called discreet packs really aren’t all that discreet but I think Eberlestock was quite successful at styling these packs to look like normal day packs. The colors are subdued but still manage to look innocuous.

The Cherry Bomb is the smaller of the 2 packs. It is capable of carrying a very short (7″ barrel) AR-15 with the stock collapsed. You could probably also fit a larger SBR (short barrel rifle) AR-15 if you were to separate the upper and lower receivers.

The larger Secret Weapon pack will accommodate an 11″ barreled AR-15 (or larger if broken down). It is also capable of carrying a 20″ barreled bolt action precision rifle if the user utilizes the Eberlestock M1 Stealth Chassis which folds shorter than just about any other stock like it.

Both packs also have an array of features and pockets for organization which make them very well mannered for use as a typical backpack when you don’t need the ability to carry a long arm. They are hydration compatible, have a removable waist belt, and have rain covers that stow in the bottom of the pack.

Check out the new S25 Cherry Bomb and S34 Secret Weapon packs from Eberlestock.

Garmin fenix

I own several Garmin GPS units and they are all great but the one I like best is my wrist-worn Foretrex 401. The Foretrex line is pretty compact but they are still much larger than a typical wrist watch and the only way it could be better is if it was just a bit smaller. Well, it appears that Garmin agrees because they have announced the new wrist-worn fenix GPS.

The fenix (the lack of capitalization in the name is driving me nuts) is just as fully spec’d as the Foretrex 401, in fact, it is actually a bit more feature rich. It boasts lighter weight, a basemap, more onboard storage, a larger tracklog, more routes, more waypoints, a better compass, and other features over the Foretrex 401. It has more functionality packed into a smaller body.

On paper, the fenix looks pretty amazing. Check it out at Garmin.com.

NavELite Magnetic Compass

The sad truth about the vast majority of the wrist-worn and button compasses on the market right now is that they are junk. They are typically low quality and lack the features needed to be anything but a last ditch backup. That is why I was so excited when I came across the upcoming NavELite which seems to have the potential to be a standout wrist-worn compass.

The NavELite looks a lot like a watch at first glance. It even features backlighting like many digital watches. The bezel is large and looks easy to read. It has redundant low light systems (NV friendly EL backlighting and luminous paint). The liquid filled compass module rotates so you can set an azimuth. The needle dampens quickly and rides on a jewel bearing. I am glad to see a needle because many small compasses use a platter which renders them nearly useless if even a small bubble forms. These features read more like the spec sheet for a serious hiking compass.

The NavELite is not yet on the market but, on paper, it looks like a tremendous compass and they are accepting pre-orders. Check out NavELite.com.

Review: TAREINCO SOB-Pouch

There are a lot of belt pouches available that are marketed toward EDC (every day carry) but there are very few that anyone actually wants to carry unless they like being called “Batman” by their friends. The typical EDC belt pouch has lots of buckles, zippers, flaps, and bulk which make them far too conspicuous for me.

The TAREINCO Survival Options Belt-Pouch (SOB-Pouch) is very different from most EDC belt pouches. The biggest difference is that you may actually want to use it since it can be carried fairly discreetly.


The SOB-Pouch is very simple at first glance but there are some neat features if you look closer. It is a belt mounted 3” x 5” pouch with a single zipper and no organization features. It also has a Velcro field for attaching patches or a red cross if the pouch is carrying first aid items.

The pouch portion of the SOB-Pouch is cleverly constructed from a single piece of 1000D nylon that is folded over, sewn on the ends (and bound with bias tape), and completed with the zipper. This construction technique minimizes failure points and makes the SOB-Pouch lay very flat against the belt. This low profile construction method and the quick release belt loop are what make this pouch special.

It features an ingenious belt loop system that can be mounted on belts up to 2” wide and can be released simply by pulling a short tab the protrudes below the bottom of the pouch. The belt loop is constructed from wide pieces of overlapping Velcro. When you pull the tab, you are simply separating the Velcro and allowing the pouch to release from the belt. It is a simple system and it works.


The quality of this pouch seems to be excellent. The stitching is straight and even. The quick release pull tab is box stitched to the belt loop. The belt loop is attached to the pouch via heavy double stitches. The seams in the pouch itself are kept to a minimum and are all bound so there are no cloth edges. All the materials are top notch.


Obviously, with a wide open pouch like this only the size of the pouch limits what it can carry. It is certainly a versatile pouch but I think it has some features that let it excel at certain uses.

It is designed to serve as a small survival kit pouch and it does that very well. It can carry a surprising amount of gear while still remaining quite compact. I have packed it with an EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER, water purification tablets, a small roll of duct tape, some cordage, a fishing kit, tinder, some tin foil, a small knife, saw, and more with room to spare. This one tiny pouch can cover your needs for fire (fire starters), water (purification tabs), and possibly even food (fishing kit) and shelter (cordage). A pouch like the SOB-Pouch lets you store these vital items on your body instead of in your pack where they can be more easily separated from you.

I also found that it makes a great small first aid or boo-boo kit. When you are in woods or training on the range, there are many medical issues that you can encounter that you won’t be able to treat with a blowout kit. Items like pain relievers, anti-diarrheal meds, adhesive bandages, and all the other mundane but commonly used first aid items should be carried separately from your trauma treatment supplies so you don’t have to root through your blowout kit to access them. These items are especially important when you are in a multi-day training class where you are, hopefully, more likely to suffer a scraped knee than a gunshot wound. The last thing you want is a case of the “quick steps” or killer headache to ruin your expensive training.

Observations from Use

I have already said it in this review, but I will say it again… This pouch is great in part because it has such a low profile. It disappears under an untucked shirt. Most people really won’t even notice it and if they do, it doesn’t look like you are carrying a rucksack on your belt.

The quick release belt loop system is also part of what makes this pouch work so well. Rooting around in such a small pouch would be difficult if you had to keep it on your belt. The SOB-Pouch can be easily removed from your belt. In fact, it is so easy that you can do it by feel. Just find the tab and pull. This means that you can mount it anywhere on your belt, even spots that you can’t see. It can be replaced on your belt just as easily.

I did not have any problems with the belt loop releasing unintentionally in 1 month of near daily carry.

The belt loop is constructed from raw Velcro without a backing. It seems very sturdy and has held up well so far but I wonder if it will start to fray over time. Some kind of backing sewn onto the Velcro material might prevent this if it is even an issue at all.

The belt loop is good for more than just belt carry. I found that it worked very well on a backpack strap.

The zipper is located part of the way down the front of the pouch instead of on the top. I thought that I would find that to be a pain but it actually seems to make packing easier because the items in the pouch are less likely to stick up into the zipper when you are trying to close it.

I was dubious about the Velcro field on the front of the pouch at first but it would be a great place to place a small red cross patch to indicate that it contains first aid items. TAREINCO would probably build a pouch without it if you don’t think you will need it.

Wrap Up

The SOB-Pouch is handy, versatile, and well-made with clever features that make it better for its intended purpose. It is compact and low-profile enough that, if you look like a goof when you are wearing it, it isn’t the SOB-Pouch’s fault. Check out the TAREINCO SOB-Pouch at TAREINCO.com.

Disclosure: This pouch was provided to me for review, free of charge, by TAREINCO.

Review: Battle Systems LLC Marker Panel, Individual, Lightweight

People have been cutting down the VS-17 Marker Panels to make them easier to handle and pack for years. The Marker Panel, Individual, Lightweight (MPIL) from Battle Systems LLC is an evolutionary upgrade to that concept but it has some additional features and functionality that make it more than just a downsized rehash of the VS-17.

This Multicam Mystery Ranch Crew Cab pack would all but disappear without the MPIL attached.

Here is the pack without the MPIL attached for reference.


I should note that I am reviewing the Mk1 version of the MPIL. A new Mk2 version that is 100% Berry Compliant will be released shortly. It will have some subtle changes but the functionality will be unchanged.

The MPIL is a 2 sided marker panel made from lightweight rip-stop nylon. One side is International Orange (Blaze Orange) and the other is fluorescent pink. Each side has a 2 x 2” color matched Velcro square that is intended to allow the user to attach an IR reflective patch.  There are paracord loops sewn into each corner.

The panel, with IR patch, weighs about 1 ounce. The MPIL 16 x 16” in its fully open position and it folds down to about 2.5 x 2.5” for storage. It comes with a shock-cord loop that is used to secure it when folded.

The MPIL is available on its own but Battle Systems also offers some worthwhile additions and packages that will help you get the most out of it. Battle Systems will be offering IR patches that can be purchased at the same time as your MPIL. They will also be offering National Molding Poli Bina Clips that make it easier to attach the MPIL to a variety of gear or to attach multiple MPIL together.

The National Molding Poli Bina Clips are a worthwhile addition to the MPIL.

The Poli Bina Clips can be staged on your pack (or any other MOLLE covered surface) so that you can quickly attach the MPIL when needed.

Be Found

I am unqualified speak to the military uses of the MPIL, though they are many. However, the MPIL’s uses are hardly limited to the military. It is potentially a very useful tool for the outdoorsman.

The MPIL is a compact and lightweight means of signaling in the event that something goes awry while you are in the woods. The ability to seen over large distances is paramount when you are lost or need rescue. Basically, when you need to be found, you need to be seen. I never walk into the woods without at least one means of getting someone’s attention.

It packs so small, that it can easily be carried with additional signaling methods. In fact, I have found that you can easily tuck a SAR Global Eclipse Signal System and a quality survival whistle into the folded MPIL to create a very compact, very light weight, and very versatile signaling kit. These items together are compact and light enough that even the most weight conscious packer can find room for them in their kit.

The MPIL, SAR Global Tool Eclipse Signal System, and a whistle make a compact signal kit that works across a variety of conditions.

At just 2.5 x 2.5″, there is always room for the MPIL.

Stay Found

Just as the MPIL can help you be found, it can also help you stay found. It sounds simple but, not getting lost is a great way to avoid needing to be found.

If your usual outdoor haunts have acre after acre of forest with little to no under growth, I envy you. Around here, the little bit of wooded area that we do have is all second growth forest that tends to be choked with dense underbrush. This type of forest makes it nearly impossible to use a sighting compass to identify a landmark on your azimuth to walk toward.  In places, it is thick enough that even the leapfrog technique of walking an azimuth can be difficult because you can’t see your navigation partner more than a few yards in front of you.

I’ll briefly explain the leap frog technique for those who are unfamiliar. When using a map and compass, you first determine an azimuth (the direction to your desired destination). Then you use your sighting compass to sight to a landmark that is on your azimuth so you can walk to it and repeat the process until you reach your destination. In the absence of landmarks or when your view of suitable landmarks is obstructed, you can use the leapfrog technique (I have no idea if that is what the technique is really called). Essentially, you use your partner as a moveable landmark. They walk out ahead of you only as far as they can be seen and then you, using your compass, direct them until they are right on your azimuth. They then hold their position while you walk to them and then repeat the process until you have suitable landmarks or your reach your destination.

Years ago, I found that having a brightly colored panel can greatly improve the efficacy of this technique because it makes the navigation partner easier to see and sight the compass against. It essentially allows you to send them further away from you in dense brush which increases the ground that you can cover with each “leap.” The MPIL is tremendously effective tool for this technique. In fact, the MPIL spends a lot of time in my favorite map case for just this purpose.

If you are lacking a suitable landmark on your azimuth, the MPIL and a partner can be use to make your own. It works in wide open fields or in woods that are choked with undergrowth.

In Use

The above uses really only scratch the surface of the MPIL’s usefulness to the outdoorsman (and we haven’t even touched on military uses). In addition to the above, it can also easily be used to identify yourself as something other than a deer in hunting season. It can be used to mark your camp or gear so it is visible from a distance. It could be used in a vehicle kit as a means of indicating that you need help or being more visible when you change a flat tire on the side of the road. The potential uses go on and on.

Much of the MPIL’s usefulness is derived from how simple it is to attach to various objects. The paracord loops at each corner allow you to use just about any kind of clip or lashing to secure the MPIL. It will attach to some packs without additional hardware (especially any Mystery Ranch pack with the Daypack Lid). The National Molding Poli Bina Clips make it easy to attach to just about any piece of gear whether it has MOLLE webbing available or not.

It is also very simple to attach multiple MPIL together to form a larger panel. The Poli Bina Clips make this especially easy. Battle Systems will likely be offering some form of a multipack of MPIL and Poli Binas once the Mk2 version is available that will facilitate this type of use.

The IR reflective patches that are available expand the capability of MPIL to include low and no light signaling. I would like to see Battle Systems introduce a visible light reflective patch as well since it likely has more relevance to the outdoorsman market than the IR reflective patch.

I have found a way that I like to fold the MPIL that allows me to quickly deploy it as a small square, rather than unfolding it all the way to its full size. This is useful for the above mentioned leapfrog technique where you may not actually need a huge aiming point for the compass. This method can also be used so that the IR patch can be exposed with just one fold instead of fully opening the panel. Additionally, the panel can be folded so that the IR patch is visible without unfolding. Then it can be secured to a pack or gear in this folded state for use as a sort of make shift “cat eye” or “ranger eye.”

The MPIL can be used a “cat eye” when it is hung from a backpack while still folded.

Wrap Up

I hope you are getting the idea that the MPIL is ridiculously versatile. When every ounce counts, you want the items that you are carrying to be able to be used in multiple ways. I think it is an incredibly useful part of any well rounded survival/signal kit.

Check out the Marker Panel, Individual, Lightweight on BattleSystemsLLC.com.


Killer Key

We have spoken at some length on various tools that can be used to bypass locks. At JTT, we consider this to be an important skill that any responsible person should be familiar with. I recently came across an interesting tool, the Killer Key, that does the opposite of bypassing a lock: it can actually lock it permanently. The ability to control access like this may be just as important as the ability to bypass a lock.

The Killer Key is simple to use. It is scored so that the user inserts it into a lock and bends it, a section of the key breaks off and remains lodged in the keyway. It has a large notch that allows the pins in the lock to drop which effectively locks the broken section in place, permanently disabling the lock. This locks out those on the exterior of the structure but can not lock in people on the interior.

The Killer Key is available for Schlage® or Kwikset® keyways which covers a vast majority of the key styles in the USA. This seems like it could be a valuable addition to an E&E or urban survival kit.

Check out the Killer Key on VigilantGear.com.

SAR Global Tool Tri-Sig

SAR Global Tool continues their tradition of making signaling equipment that is easy to carry, stylish, and works across a variety of conditions. Basically, they make signal systems that you have no excuse not to carry because they integrate with your life so easily. That is certainly the case with the new Tri-Sig that is being released today.

Tri-Sig is short for triple signal which gives you a clue as to the functionality of the device. It can be used to signal or be seen 3 different ways: a highly polished #16 stainless washer that acts as a signal mirror, 1″ disk of reflective SOLAS tape, and 5/8″ disk of mil-spec lume tape (glow in the dark). All three of these materials are attached to a triangular piece of textured G-10. The signal mirror is aimed via a rivet in the center of the Tri-Sig.

The Tri-Sig can be carried a number of different ways. It can be used as a zipper pull, key fob, or even a pendant around your neck. The Tri-Sig comes with a stainless steel screw gate link with a break strength of 220 pounds for attaching it to various objects like zipper pulls.

Check out the new Tri-Sig at the SAR Global Tool Blog.

The Defilade Bundle from Fight and Flight Tactical

Fight and Flight Tactical is offering a new bundle that includes a Defilade pack, one of their brand new GP Mini Pouches, and one of their brand new Tailgate Organizer Pouches. Both pouches are designed to fit perfectly on the Defilade but are also versatile enough to be useful for other purposes.

The GP Mini Pouch is a small pouch that offers internal organization and a full clam shell design. The organization is in the form of elastic loops and loop lining (Velcro). It has a very small footprint that makes it perfect for the side of the Defilade but it would also work well as a small admin/GP pouch in just about any application.

The Tailgate Organizer Pouch (TOP) is designed to fit the footprint of the Defilade’s beaver-tail storage area. It also offers internal organization in the form of elastic loops and loop lining (Velcro) with the addition of some pockets. The TOP is a fairly large pouch that offers a lot of organization potential.

All of these items combined make for a pretty impressive EDC pack. Check out the new Defilade Bundle on FightandFlight.com.

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