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Archive | Preparedness

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.


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

MerkWares Pocket Super Shelter Updates

We first mentioned the MerkWares Pocket Super Shelter almost 2 months ago. The shelter has now moved past the crowdfunding stage and is making strides toward entering production. In fact, MerkWares just released a video update that shows a sample Pocket Super Shelter will become the production version.

The improvements include new tie downs, an improved snap system to replace the hook and loop closure, and an easier to set up ridge line configuration. The video above shows the changes in detail. Stay tuned for pricing and availability information.

Check out the rest of MerkWares offerings at EmberLit.com.

Gadsden Dynamics Triple-G

The Triple-G, or Gadsden Grab ‘n’ Go, from Gadsden Dynamics looks different than just about any other piece of gear you’ve seen. This versatile kit is part bail out bag, part bandoleer, and part chest rig. It’s compact, versatile, and exactly the kind of thing you might want to pack with your “truck gun”.

The Triple-G is basically a panel with two rifle magazine pouches. The rifle mag pouches are the same tight fitting, open top design found on most of Gadsden Dynamics’ gear. The pouches are separated by a short gap that is the key to how the Triple-G can be folded into a compact package that is barely larger than the two magazines it can hold.

It has straps that allow it to be used as a compact chest rig or a bandoleer when it is unfolded. When it is folded, the straps and magazines are completely contained inside so it presents a low profile appearance. It looks innocuous enough when folded to not draw undue attention and it is small enough to easily fit inside a bug out bag or similar bag.

On top of all that, it is made by hand in the USA and costs $40.

Check out the Triple-G at Gadsden Dynamics.

Wndsn Telemeters: Official Manual

Maybe you’ve read about Wndsn XPD’s telemeters on these pages and thought they looked cool but wondered if you would ever be able to to figure out how to use one. I suspect that is a pretty common sentiment because Wndsn just released a new manual called Wndsn Telemeters: Official Manual.

The manual includes basic instruction on using a telemeter which is actually relatively simple. It also includes instruction for a number of more advanced uses of their telemeters.

  • Extending the Scales
  • Measuring Latitude for Celestial Navigation
  • Powers of 10 and Scale Jumps
  • Measuring Angular Size
  • Measuring Size Instead of Distance
  • Resection: Triangulation, Trilateration, Triangulateration
  • Resection Error Margins
  • Small-Angle Calculations
  • Accuracy Estimations
  • Calibrating Device Resolution

Even if you don’t have a telemeter, you may want to consider a book like this. You can even use the back cover as a telemeter!

Wndsn Telemeters: Official Manual

Wndsn Acrylic Telemeter Pendant

You’ve seen Wndsn’s incredible low tech calculation tools on these pages before. They have created a variety of tools that calculate distance based on trigonometry, convert between MOA and MILs, and more… all without the need for moving parts or batteries.

Their newest tool, the Acrylic Telemeter Pendant is based on a Viking design. It allows the wearer to determine distance based on sighting objects of a known size while holding the pendant a specific distance from their eye.

This is one of Wndsn’s first acrylic tools and it has a unique feature that takes advantage of this optically clear material. There is a slot in the Telemeter Pendant that is sized to accept miniature glow sticks. The glow stick illuminates the markings on the Telemeter Pendant, allowing it to be used in low light.

Wndsn Acrylic Telemeter Pendant at Wndsn.com

Mossy Forge Tomahawks

Mossy Forge is a blacksmith that hand forges a variety of different tomahawks with some interesting shared features. Their tomahawks are often forged from reclaimed materials like 5160 leaf springs or quality vintage metal tools. Their designs also tend to have deep relief cutout behind the beard of the tomahawk (the lower part of the cutting edge) that lightens the tomahawk and allows the user to choke up for controlled cuts or carving.

They are probably best known for their Viking Axe (previously known as the Goshawk). This is a hammer poll tomahawk with a curved cutting bit. It is has a distinctive, deep beard that allows the user to grip high on the haft, behind the cutting edge. The Viking Axe features a lugged head that gives it more surface area to engage the haft. It available with a number of different haft lengths, wraps, and sheath options as are many of Mossy Forge’s tomahawks.

You can check out Mossy Forge on Etsy.

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