web analytics

Archive | Preparedness

How to Add Retention to Your Mora Sheath

Mora knives are great. I think we all know that by now. Most of them cost between $9 and $15 but they offer performance and quality well beyond their price point. I like them… a lot. I like them enough that, while I own several expensive knives (even customs of my own design), I carry and use Mora knives most of the time. They are so lightweight, so inexpensive, and so capable that it is hard to justify the pack weight of other knives.

But… There is always a catch. The sheaths that come with Mora knives are actually mostly functional but don’t always offer enough retention for use during very vigorous activity or for carrying lose in your pack. This problem can result in a lost knife, ruined gear from a loose knife flopping around in your pack, or even injury. I highly recommend addressing the issue somehow, especially if you are going to carry a knife in your pack. Fortunately, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively.

In my experience, there are two easy ways to fix the retention issue. One is VERY inexpensive and one generally costs more than the Mora itself but still offers a good value. I’ll start with the more expensive way.

The Expensive Way – Replace the Sheath

There are a ton of kydex benders out there who would be more than happy to fold a sheath for you. The benefits of buying a kydex sheath are numerous. The most important benefit is that, if the sheath maker is worth their salt, the retention should be improved enough that you can carry the Mora without fear that it will come out of the sheath on its own. Additionally, you can choose your own belt attachment method (or no belt hardware at all), features, and color.

If you can, consider supporting a kydex bender that is local to you. If not…

You can spend a lot on a sheath but you don’t have to. Armory Plastics makes a great sheath for the Mora Companion (one of my favorite and most common Moras in the line right now) for around $20. It is made in the USA – the great state of Idaho to be specific. It comes with a very stout rotating belt clip that I like a lot, offers great retention, drains well thanks to a molded drain hole, and is available in orange or black (mine is orange): Armory Plastics Mora Companion Sheath on Amazon (affiliate link).

The Cheap Way – Ranger Bands

If you don’t want to drop the coin on an aftermarket sheath, you’re in luck. Most Mora sheaths can be rigged with a ranger band in order to retain the knife. The sheaths with a drop hook belt attachment can generally except a thin band near the top of the belt hook to create a retention strap (see image below). This includes models like the Pro (C, S, Robust), Craftline, and Companion series. You simply pull the band up and over the butt of the knife to release it and the band stays attached to the sheath.

I like to use Gearward Ranger Bands for this because they are the perfect size for this task and are very robust. You can make your own too.

The sheaths with more of a bucket-like design, like the venerable 510, require a wider band. Simply cut a band that is around 1.5 – 2″ wide and fit it around the top of the sheath so that it extends above the top of the opening. It will grip the Mora’s handle and add just a bit more retention. You will eventually cut it when inserting the knife back into the sheath, but it should continue gripping the knife even when cut.

As a bonus, ranger bands make a great firestarter in a pinch. They can be lit with a lighter and will burn long enough to buy you some time to ignite less than ideal tinder. You can probably cut a 2″ wide band into 4 smaller fire starters or just use the whole band to light especially poor tinder.

Hill People Gear V2 Original Kit Bag SAR Version

Search and Rescue professionals have been using chest harnesses and Hill People Gear Kit Bags to keep their vital gear close at hand for years. Now they can rely on a new SAR specific version of the Kit Bag – the V2 Original Kit Bag SAR Version.

The SAR Kit Bag was designed with input from instructors at Randall’s Adventure and Training. It features 500D nylon construction in the internationally recognized red. It is based on the V2 Original Kit Bag and retains all of the features. It also adds a loop field on the front for patches, ID, or organizing small gear and a diagonal PALS webbing field (2 rows, 3 columns) for mounting knives, radios, or other tools.

HillPeopleGear.com

Note: The new V2 Original Kit Bag SAR Version is sold out at Hill People Gear but it is currently in stock at 5col Survival Supply.

SEREPICK OSS Tool Set

If you are a lock bypass nerd like me, you likely remember the SEREPICK OSS Tool Set that we previewed here on the pages of JTT. I have good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news… The initial run of 100 OSS Tool Sets sold out almost immediately. Poof. Gone.

The good news is two-fold. You can see images and specs of the kit at SEREPICK.com now and SEREPICK tells me that they will offer subsequent runs of the OSS Tool Sets based on demand. I would think that selling 100 units in the blink of an eye shows sufficient demand for another run.

The OSS Tool Kit includes several items. The tool itself has two different rakes (Bogota and City Rake), a long reach hook, and stainless saw blade. The tension wrench is included and the entire kit nests inside a rubber carrier that can be easily concealed.

The best way to get one of these hot ticket items is to keep your eyes on SEREPICK’s Instagram feed. They often announce the availability of limited runs there first.

SEREPICK.com

Review: Speedbox Endurance-40

Speedbox is known for their “modular container systems for palletized cargo” which is a fancy way of saying they make rugged cases that stack together easily and are sized perfectly for various pallets in use by the military and other groups. The palletization features are very cool and very useful for some people… but not me. I have no military background and no need to palletize gear but a rugged, water resistant box that I can roll pretty much anywhere? Well, that I can use.

Speedbox Endurance-40 in FDE

Overview

The Speedbox Endurance-40 is the second similar product from Speedbox (the first being the larger Voyager-70). It is a 40 gallon capacity container (33.40”L x 19.95”W x 26.00”D) with a footprint that is sized to maximize the capacity of the ISU 90 and 463-L pallets. It has features that allow it to be locked together with adjacent Endurance-40s and to be stacked on other Endurance-40s.

It features durable rotomolded polymer construction with steel and aluminum parts. The interior of the case is sprayed with a textured liner used in marine applications. It has both a drain plug and breather vent to help equalize the interior atmosphere with the exterior.

The lid is secured with rubber cam locks that serve to compress a large gasket that keeps the Endurance-40 water-tight. The hinge for the lid is beefy and pivots on a solid rod.

The Endurance-40 rolls on large, no-flat tires that are mounted on a 5/8″ thick through axle. It can be rolled on those wheels with it’s “Never-Fail Handle System” that is constructed with solid aluminum square stock with steel reinforcement plates.

Who Might Want One

I am not the original military market for the Endurance-40 but it is versatile enough and unique enough to have broad crossover appeal to anyone who spends time outdoors. Gear and the outdoors go hand in hand so having a way to haul that gear is handy.

I have used the Endurance-40 to cart my family’s gear down to our favorite swimming hole. That involves a quarter mile hike on the trails on our property to get to a creek that is dominated by glacial granite boulders of various sizes. It takes everything we need in one trip and rolls over everything along the way.

I’ve used it to access shooting spots on public land where there are no sidewalks. It can hold multiple Defense Targets RSTs (think B-C sized silhouettes), short 2×4 target uprights, my shooting bag, lunch, and still have room to spare. Best of all, I can throw my rifle bag over my shoulder and get everything from my truck to the shooting line in one trip. Once I arrive, it makes a decent shooting table.

Ivan at KitBadger.com shared with me that his gear often had to be palletized when he was serving as a security contractor. He thought something like this would offer a lot of peace of mind for someone who’s gear was sitting out on a hot or rainy tarmac for hours at a time.

It could provide rolling, semi-secure storage for a hunting camp. It could store extra gear at a camp site or vacation spot. It could be used to pack for a carbine course. A firearm instructor could keep all their course supplies packed and ready to roll. You can even use it as a cooler in a pinch!

If you need to carry a lot of gear into a rugged place, you can probably put something like this to use.

Observations from Use

Is it possible to fall in love with tires? Because, I think I am in love with these tires. There are other wheeled boxes out in the marketplace but they are usually geared more toward photography equipment or tools and their wheels range from tiny rollerblade wheels to hard plastic wheels that look like they came off of push-mower. The Endurance-40’s wheels are one of the keys to its usefulness and what sets it apart. This thing is purpose-built to go to rough places. I have rolled the Endurance-40 on interior surfaces, gravel driveways, sidewalks, hiking trails, glacial granite rock, and grassy fields. It rolls over all them with varying degrees of effort. I am not talking about dragging the case. It actually rolls.

40 gallons of internal capacity can hold a lot of stuff! I fit 3 steel targets including their uprights and stands along with a large range bag, a lunch bag, 2 water bottles, a belt rig, and still had room left! I can fit my full overnight hiking pack into it with about 2/3rds of the interior space to spare.

A word to those who plan to carry this in a pickup truck. It is a BIG case and it may not fit under a bed cover upright. I just lay mine on its side in my F-150.

Shown: Handle, Valve, and Plug

I appreciate the build quality of this Endurance-40. When you look at it, you initially see a lot of polymer. When you really start paying attention, there are some absolutely over-built design details. The wheels ride on a 5/8″ solid axle and the area between the wheels has been angled so that when you lift the front to roll the case, additional ground-clearance is created. The handle is built extremely well from solid aluminum square stock and reinforced with steel plates so that there is never metal bearing on polymer under load.

Steel Reinforced Handle Interface

The handle is not only solid but comfortable to use. The handle itself is large enough to grip comfortably and spins freely so that you never have to reposition your hand as the angle of the Endurance-40 changes when lifting or rolling over uneven terrain. I do wish there was some way of securing the handle when it wasn’t in use like a friction lock or something along those lines. It hangs freely and can stick out when the Speedbox is tilted.

I think Speedbox may have also missed some opportunities for internal organization with the Endurance-40. If there were something like like molded in ledges that could hold a tray used to organize cargo or maybe molded slots that accepted partitions, that could be useful. The military market might not have need for an internal trays or partitions but the guy who buys this for personal use might and he would likely pay extra for the parts!

The Endurance-40’s gasket is huge.

Testing

I tried to come up with some tests that would simulate the kinds of rough treatment a box like this might experience in regular use. I wanted to see if the Speedbox was up to transporting and protecting gear in a variety of conditions.

The most important test in my estimation was loading it heavily and rolling it on very uneven surfaces. The best test of this was likely my shooting loadout. It was well over 150 pounds with 3 steel targets (nearly 40 pounds each), loaded magazines, spare ammo, and everything else I need on the range. It was rolled over completely unimproved footpaths, dirt road, and rocky hillside with no signs of damage to the axle or where the axle interfaces with polymer body. It has also been rolled for more than a mile hiking trails and small glacial boulder fields (golf ball up to basketball size round stone) on its way too and from our creek with zero detectable change in the wheels or axle.

The Enurance-40 lodged on the rocks during testing.

Speaking of the creek… The most fun testing that we completed was the float test. I sealed the empty Endurance-40 and let it roll down the same 50 yard section of the creek twice. At the end of the second float, it lodged on some rocks were it stuck with the full force of the creek behind it. This isn’t a dive case and getting stuck on the rocks with the pressure of a creek behind it is probably beyond what Speedbox intended but the gasket did its job. There was no water in the case though a few drops did force their way just under the gasket.

Finally, I pushed the Endurance-40 off the tailgate of my truck (which has a 3″ lift) 4 times. I did it twice empty and twice with a load of firewood in it. The LZ was my gravel driveway. Ouch! The box took some gouging, especially when full, but the lid remained sealed, the cam buckles didn’t break, the hinge is fine, and its integrity is completely intact.

I am impressed.

Price

I rarely comment on price in reviews, preferring instead to let you make your own judgement on value. I am going to comment on price here because these boxes are not cheap but I believe the price should not be a surprise.

I’ll draw a few comparison to illustrate what I mean. Any and all high-end rugged, water-proof, rolling, polymer gear cases (usually geared toward firearm transport or camera equipment) are relatively expensive. You can also price similarly sized rotomolded items like high end coolers as a benchmark. The Endurance-40 is sort an amalgamation of both of those with other features thrown in like large rubber tires and an over-built handle. The Endurance-40 also happens to be larger than most high end cases.

Rocky hills? No problem.

Wrap Up

If you have seen Speedbox’s offerings online before and passed right by thinking they weren’t for you because you don’t need to palletize gear, you are missing out. I like to think I put the Endurance-40 through some realistic testing (maybe even some testing beyond realistic) and it proved to be extremely durable. It has a combination of features that make it useful in lot of situations.

I don’t know of another storage container that do what Speedbox does and, more importantly for me, go where Speedbox goes.

Speedbox.us


Disclosure: The Endurance-40 was sent to me by Speedbox free of charge for the purposes of writing a review.

TOPS Knives Backpacker’s Bowie

TOPS Knives has released their new Backpacker’s Bowie and it scores some major nostalgia points with me. When I was a teen, a good friend of mine had a Jet Pilot Survival Knife that I thought must have been the coolest knife in the world. The blade shape and grind of the new Backpacker’s Bowie bears a strong resemblance to that iconic knife.

When I am backpacking, I want a knife that is stout but not dead weight. The Backpacker’s Bowie weighs in at just over 7 ounces. It is stout enough to help with emergency tasks like wood processing and shelter building. It is also useful in camp with its built in pot lifter notch so you won’t have to wait for an emergency to use it.

From TOPS Knives:

Bowie knives have long been popular among knife enthusiasts. They are versatile in a wide range of uses. Most Bowies are larger knives, however. TOPS set out to make a shorter version that even a backpacker would carry (every ounce counts). The result is a 4” blade that could be the most important piece of kit that goes on the backpacking trip. Aside from the normal uses a knife affords, the notch on the spine is for breaking wire or pulling a pot out of the fire and the swedge can be sharpened upon request. The Backpacker’s Bowie, because you should always carry a knife.

Pick up the Backpacker’s Bowie from a TOPS authorized dealer or directly from TOPS at www.topsknives.com/backpacker-s-bowie

Specs:

Overall Length: 8.25”

Blade Length: 4.5”

Cutting Edge: 4.13”

Blade Thickness: 0.16”

Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58

Blade Finish: Tumble

Handle Material: Green Canvas Micarta

Knife Weight: 7.2oz

Sheath Material: Black Kydex

Sheath Clip: Rotating Spring Steel

Sneak Peek: SerePick OSS Mini Pick Set

Do you wish you had an original WWII issued OSS Lock Picking Knife? Of course you do, those things are awesome but they are expensive, hard to find, and the state of the art has passed them by. Fortunately, SerePick is working on a modern incarnation of the original that benefits from everything SerePick know about bypassing locks and building tools to do it effectively.

The images included with this post show a prototype. Some production features are not shown like an included nesting tension wrench. However, you can see the included rakes, reach hook, and stainless saw blade.

Stay tuned for images and information on the production version.

SerePick.com

Sneak Peek: Exotac ripSPOOL

Exotac’s newest item, the ripSPOOL, will make its debut in the May Battlbox and find its way to store shelves soon. The ripSPOOL is a sort of gear repair multitool with applications for survival and first aid as well.

The spool comes pre-loaded with 60′ of 30lb test braided line, 50″ of heavy duty repair tape, #16 sail needle, and a FireCord lanyard. There is also room for other items (not included) like #1 safety pins (2), #8 fishing hooks (5) and 3/0 split shot sinkers (2) turning the ripSPOOL into a emergency fishing kit.

Stay tuned to Exotac.com for pricing and release information.

 

Ruelas537 Omni Sheaths

There is great interest in defensive weapons that are readily available even in far flung locations and that offer some plausible deniability – think Ed Calderon’s (Ed’s Manifesto) fruit knife concept. These concepts are especially interesting to people who travel to locations that may not allow the freedoms to carry more traditional weapons.

Ruelas537 is a maker already known for crafting some sneaky defensive tools. Their newest product, the Omni Sheath, allows the user to carry something like a screwdriver (sharpened or unsharpened) close to their center-line on a static cord. The Omni Sheath protects the wearer from any sharp edges, presents the handle in a way that can be easily grasped and deployed, and releases from the screwdriver (or other object) “automatically” when the end of the static cord is reached.

Contact Ruelas537 directly via Instagram or Facebook for pricing and to order. Check out Delta2AlphaDesign’s Instagram feed for plenty of ideas on how to put these to use.

THYRM PyroVault Lighter Armor

THYRM, maker of clever water-proof containers like the CellVault, has turned their attention to everyone’s favorite lighter. Their new PyroVault is a replacement shell for Zippo (and compatible inserts) that takes the beloved flint and striker butane lighters to the next level.

The polymer PyroVault is o-ring sealed. This keeps water out and butane in. Zippo lighters tend to let all their butane evaporate in about 1-2 weeks but the PyroVault should slow the process of evaporation, making the lighter more likely to be ready when you need it. The cap is spring loaded so it immediately gets out of the way at the push of a button. THYRM also added texture to make the PyroVault easier to strike in nasty conditions and a MOLLE/PALS clip that allows you to keep your lighter handy.

If you like the reliability of the venerable, USA made, flint and striker Zippo insert but hate how it loses fluid, this could be the lighter armor you have been waiting for. Check out the PyroVault at THYRM.com.

Review: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles

You may think trekking poles don’t really fit in with the usual subject matter on JTT but I beg to differ. Trekking poles don’t just improve stability and endurance on the trail. They make great improvised shooting sticks and can help pack out heavy loads for hunters. I’ve been using them for almost 3 years now and, at this point, I can’t imagine hiking without them.

I have tried a few different types of trekking poles over the years and have developed a good sense for what I like and don’t like. I like some kind of lever/quick lock over twist locks. I like lightweight within reason. I like a cork grip that allows for multiple hand positions, especially when climbing. Finally, in my area, I find that good rock baskets are basically essential, especially if you go off trail. I also know that I don’t care for anti-shock poles.

So, when I was looking for a cheap pair of poles to use as loaners, I found that the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles from Cascade Mountain Tech had everything I wanted. They also received rave reviews and cost significantly less than even middle of the road poles from some of the better known manufacturers. I bought a set last year and have used them for more than 200 miles on mixed hikes and near daily walks on our trails in the spring, summer, and fall. I have been using them myself far more often than I loan them out!

What I Like:

Price – I paid about $40 from Amazon. They are also available at Costco and may cost even less there. That is about 1/3rd the price of my other poles. These still have all the features I like and have held up exceedingly well.

Weight – The weight on these poles will vary depending on whether or not you use baskets and straps. They are just over 1 pound (total for both poles) in the configuration that I use with straps and baskets. I have a general mistrust of carbon fiber outdoor gear but I can’t complain about the weight and the way these have held up.

Grips – The grips are very good. The cork section is comfortable though it doesn’t transition as smoothly to the plastic and foam parts of grip as other more expensive poles. I can feel the transitions but it has never lead to hotspots or blisters. I really appreciate how the grip extends down the pole low enough that I can just shift my hands lower on the pole rather than stopping to shorten them for steep climbs.

Tips – The carbide tips seem to have decent bite and have held up well to our local granite. The tips also seem to be able to deflect a bit without breaking which is very nice considering how rocky it can be here.

Baskets – These poles come with both snow and mud baskets. I use the mud baskets full time because they do a great job of ensuring that the poles don’t drop down into rock cracks or gaps too deeply. This makes it less likely to snap a pole on the trail (or off it).

Adjustment – I am 6′ 1″ and these poles provide plenty adjustment. Speaking of adjustment, the Quick Locks make changing the length a snap.

What I Don’t Like:

Hardware – I am a little suspect of the clear plastic nuts that are used to adjust the tension on the Quick Locks. Mine are starting to discolor a bit and I suspect that they will start cracking over time. I will likely replace them with a metal nut soon.

Straps – The straps are just decent. I use the straps to lock into the poles, like a sort of tendon that ties me into them. I don’t need a lot of padding but a little more would be nice. These straps work and they do have some wicking material sewn to them which is nice.

Wrap Up

The bottom line is I bought these poles a loaners but I like them enough that they have basically become my main poles. I wasn’t expecting that. These are really, really nice trekking poles at an incredible price.

Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles are available at Costco very inexpensively. I didn’t have access to a Costco so I paid a bit more and bought mine on Amazon. The are available in a number of configurations including foam or cork grips, twist or quick locks, and aluminum or carbon fiber construction. I prefer cork grips with quick locks but the pole material doesn’t matter as much to me. If you want aluminum, they are EXTREMELY affordable (around $20).

Check out Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles at Amazon (affiliate links):

Carbon Fiber, Cork Grip, Quick Lock (subject of this review)

All Models

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

%d bloggers like this: