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Review: OC Tactical KGB and KGB 2.0

I’ve used an OC Tactical Kickass Grocery Bag (KGB) for years now to carry just about anything. It’s a great do-all bag for everything from firewood, to gear for a range session, to groceries (which, ironically, I have never carried in it). I have come to love the simple utility of that bag so when OC Tactical rolled out a new and improved KGB 2.0, I couldn’t resist trying it out.

KGB (right) and KGB 2.0 (left)

Overview and Improvements

The KGB is kind of like those reusable grocery bags available at a lot of higher-end grocery stores… except its actually made in such a way that the handle won’t blow out on the second time you use it (or ever). The original KGB featured 1000D Cordura Nylon construction with a one-piece, seemless Vinyl Coated Polyester bottom that is completely waterproof. The handles are made from 1.5″ wide webbing and are long enough to put on your shoulder.

The new KGB 2.0 has all of that but also has some additions. It has a removable shoulder strap (the strap is included). It also has an internal lanyard clip so you can hang items like keys inside the top edge of the bag. Finally, OC Tactical added a slip pocket on one side and a zippered stash pocket on the other so you can organize smaller items.

Zippered pocket on KGB 2.0
Stash pocket on KGB 2.0
Internal swivel on KGB 2.0

Observations from Use

I have similar overbuilt grocery/carry-all style bags from other makers and the KGB and KGB 2.0 stand out among them for one big reason – the waterproof bottom. The bottom of this bag is totally waterproof (really) which means you can set it down on wet snow without fear of water soaking through. On a recent adventure with Ivan at KitBadger, I used these bags to carry firewood for a pack stove, placing the bags directly on nasty, wet snow without fear of dampening the wood inside.

The waterproof bottom also has another benefit which is probably my favorite thing about the KGB. The vinyl bottom is stiffer than the 1000D Cordura used in the rest of the bag and it gives enough structure that the bag will actually stand mostly open and mostly upright on its own. This makes loading the bag a lot easy than bags with no structure.

These bags are extremely durable and versatile. You can basically store whatever you want in them within reason. I’ve used them to store winter gear like gloves and hats, as range bags, to pick up brass on the range, to carry gear like a chest rig and belt to a carbine course, as totes inside a pulk sled, to carry firewood, to carry river rock from the creek on our property for landscaping, to hold recovery gear in the bed of my truck, to hold emergency winter layers in a winter vehicle kit, and basically anything other than carrying groceries. If it fits and you can lift it, it probably won’t hurt the bag.

This KGB keeping firewood dry in some challenging conditions.

Wrap Up

Think of these bags as a big Cordura bucket. They are as versatile as can be and just about bomb-proof. I review a lot of gear that I “like” and some that might even be my favorite pieces of gear of a certain type. The OC Tactical Kickass Grocery Bags are among my favorite pieces of gear, period, regardless of type.

Check out the KGB and KGB 2.0 here:

KGB at OC Tactical.com

KGB 2.0 at OCTactical.com

The Perfect Christmas Gift – Olight I1R 2 Eos Mini Keychain Flashlight

The perfect Christmas gift would be the kind of thing that anyone would like, whether they were into the types of things you read about on JTT or not. It would inexpensive enough to buy for someone you don’t know (like the mailman) and cool enough to give to family or a good friend. It would small enough to ship inexpensively or fit in a stocking. Most importantly, it would be available via Amazon Prime so you could shop last minute…

I found it.

Olight’s I1R Eos has always been a very cool flashlight. It’s ultra-tiny, USB rechargeable, well-built, incredibly bright for its size, affordable, and it has two useful modes that are easy to access in spite of the small size. This light is about as handy as a flashlight can be. It recently became an even better light. Olight updated it with a new version, the I1R 2 Eos, that has all the same great features of the original but with increased output – a surprising 150 lumens!

I’ve been using one of these lights on my keychain and it is easily the best keychain light I have owned. It is small enough to work in this role, bright enough to do real work, and the fact that is USB rechargeable means that buying odd batteries to keep your keychain light fed is a thing of the past. I especially like it as a sort of task light that prevents me from having to use my main EDC light. I love this light.

The Olight I1R 2 Eos ticks all the boxes mentioned about for a perfect gift. I’ve already ordered several for gifts this year and I may need to order a few more. It’s like gift giving cheat mode. Shoot, it’s cheap enough to treat yourself to one too.

Where to Buy:

Olight I1R 2 Eos on Amazon (affiliate link)

$20 Folding Saw Shootout

I consider a lightweight folding saw to be baseline gear. In my area of the world, we can see overnight temps in the low 50s Fahrenheit in the summer and with temps dipping even lower in the mountains. Those kinds of conditions are a recipe for disaster for the unprepared. A good saw and a sturdy fixed blade knife will go a long way toward making tasks like emergency fire prep and shelter building easier.

There are a lot of saws on the market but I have zeroed in on what I consider the 3 main contenders: the Bahco Laplander, Corona RazorTOOTH 7″, and the Silky F180. All three of these saws have a lot in common like a price tag around $20, similar weights and sizes, and a solid track record.

Top to bottom: Bahco Laplander, Silky F180 (Large Tooth), Corona RazorTOOTH

Which one is best for you? I’m not sure there is an easy answer to that as I can’t even really decide myself but I aim to lay out some information that might make your choice easier.

Comparison Table

F180LaplanderRazorTOOTH
Locks ClosedNoYesYes
Locks OpenYes (2 positions)YesYes
Blade Length7″7.5″7″
Length Closed8.75″8.75″8.75″
Cutting StrokePullPush and pullPull
Price$21.25$21.50$17.39
HandlePlastic w/
Rubber Accent
Plastic w/
Rubber Accent
Plastic w/
Rubber Accent
Metal ReinforcedPivot areaMinimalPivot Area
Teeth Per Inch6.576
Weight6.3 oz6.6 oz6.8 oz
SteelSK4 w/ Chrome“Swedish” w/
Coating
SK5 w/ Chrome
Made inJapanSwedenMexico

Cutting Performance

If you are going to major on cutting performance, the Silky F180 is the winner with the Corona RazorTOOTH as a close second. The Laplander is a distant third place. While the Laplander does cut on the push and pull stroke, it’s smaller 7 TPI cutters seem to clog more quickly and just do not cut as fast as the other saws. However, the Laplander is no slouch especially if you don’t have context for what a good hand saw can do.

The following image shows three cutting strokes from each saw. The kerf on the left is 1 pull stroke, 1 push stroke, and 1 pull stroke from the Bahco. It is the shallowest cut. The bark tear out makes the kerf look deeper than it is – pay attention to the square bottom of the kerf. The center kerf is 3 pull strokes from the Corona. It is the second deepest cut. The kerf on the right is the Silky. It likely could have been through the branch in 4 more strokes. It clearly outclasses the other saws.

Left to right: Bahco, Corona, Silky

Comfort and Ergonomics

The winner is not as clear here but the Silky F180 is clearly the loser. The F180 has wide finger grooves that won’t really fit anyone. It gets some points for the two-position lock that allows you to lock the blade in a position that is more appropriate for cutting on the ground but it still isn’t the best in hand. It isn’t uncomfortable to use but it isn’t as comfortable as the others.

The Bahco has a very neutral handle that is grippy and feels good in several positions. The Corona is probably the nicest to use over a long period of time thanks to the more vertical hand position provided by the pistol grip shape. I’ll give the win to the Corona.

Durability

This is going to be a fly in the ointment for some, especially the rabid Silky fanboys. In spite of the fact that the Laplander has very little metal reinforcement in the handle, it has a reputation as the most durable and I am inclined to agree. Bahco has clearly favored flexibility over hardness in the heat treatment of their steel. You would have to be the sloppiest saw user on the planet to break one of these blades as they can typically be bent to 90 degrees or more without snapping.

The Silk7 F180, on the other hand, seems to go all-in on cutting performance. The blade is hard and they have a reputation for snapping when misused. I’ve snapped one before and I know many others who have as well. There is a technique to using a pull cut saw. Avoid putting to much pressure on the saw during the push stroke, especially if you are cutting a round large enough that the tip is buried in the diameter of said round. The chrome-plated blade adds points here as these saws tend to be extremely rust-resistant.

The Corona RazorTOOTH seems to split the difference on blade durability but there have been some reports of the handle being a little more brittle. The chrome-plated blade does ad some points here but Corona’s blade are not as rust-resistant as Silky’s in my experience.

Price and Availability

The Corona wins on both price and availability. You can often find these in home improvement or farm supply stores so there is a good chance you can pick one up locally. It is usually going to be the most affordable of all three options.

If you have an arborist supply store near you, there is a chance you could find Silky saws in stock but expect to pay a premium in shops like this. I’ve never seen the Bahco Laplander in a brick and mortar store.

Overall Impression of Quality

The Silky wins here. The plastic used in the handle feels solid. The rubber over-mold is clearly the best quality. The finishing on the blade is notably better. It doesn’t flex, bind on opening/closing, or creak like the others.

The Bahco and Corona are both well-made, premium saws that are definitely in a class above big box store saws. They just don’t show the same attention to detail shown by Silky saws.

How to Choose

If you need the most efficient cutter and you can be somewhat careful with your tools, the Silky F180 is the top choice. If you need the most durable saw because you are going to throw it an emergency kit and forget about it, you are probably looking at the Bahco Laplander. If you want a saw that seems to do everything well, the Corona RazorTOOTH seems to split the difference nicely.

If you stop me on the trail, you will likely find the Corona or Silky in my pack. However, if it is really cold, you are more likely to find a larger bow saw.

Where to Buy

I have purchased all of these saws on Amazon except the Corona which I purchased at a local farm store (Amazon would have been cheaper). You might consider watching the prices on Amazon before you buy as the Silky, for instance, has been as low as $15 recently. The following URLs are all affiliate links that support JTT.

Bahco Laplander

Silky F180

Corona RazorTOOTH

The Buff – Swiss Army Knife of Headwear

What if there was one piece of gear that could serve as a scarf, a knit hat, a gaiter, a pot cozy, a handkerchief, a sleep hat and more? What if it also weighed very little and folded almost completely flat? Well, such an item exists. It’s called a Buff and it’s as amazing as it sounds.

What Is It?

It’s simple – really, really simple. A Buff is basically just a fabric tube. It is usually made from a material with some stretch like Merino Wool, polyester, and synthetic fleece. The tube shape is the key to its versatility.

Original Buff is, as far as I can tell, the originator of the Buff. The name “Buff” is a brand name but it has become somewhat of a genericized trademark that refers to similar headwraps from other manufacturers. My first experience with something similar was the Spec Ops Brand Recon Wrap about 15 years ago. Mil-Spec Monkey, OR, and others all make versions of this useful item. Now I own several including some from Original Buff which I prefer.

What’s the Big Deal?

The Buff’s versatility is off the charts and if you enjoy spending time outside, you’ll likely never stop finding uses for them. They are an incredible addition to a cold-weather EDC. I don’t leave home without one when the temperatures start dropping and I camp/hike with one year-round.

Here are some of the ways I have used mine:

  1. knit cap (great for cool summer nights above treeline)
  2. sun protection
  3. sweatband
  4. ear warmer
  5. helmet liner
  6. pot cozy/holder (great for insulating rehydrating camp meals or holding hot pot handles as long as you have a non-melting material)
  7. scarf
  8. gaiter
  9. balaclava
  10. handkerchief
  11. hand towel
  12. pillowcase (wrapped around a stuff sack that was stuffed with clothes)
  13. More ways to wear a buff

My first Buffs were all made from synthetic materials. They were fairly thin and served me well in all 4 seasons. However, last year a friend mentioned that Buff Headwear now offered 100% Merino Wool Buffs which opened up a whole new world of functionality since Merino won’t melt. I am more comfortable using the wool version handling hot pots in camp. It also seems to stave off stink longer than the polyester versions. If I could only have one, it would be one of the lightweight Merino Wool Buffs.

My Buff is usually working for me even when I am not wearing one. I typically fold one flat and tuck it into the front pocket of my Hill People Gear Kit Bag to pad items like my compass and phone. This protects my gear just a bit and keeps the Buff in an easy to access location.

Wrap Up

Buffs are as multifunctional as a Swiss Army Knife and useful in all 4 seasons. They are one of my all-time favorite pieces of gear.

You may have a source for them locally so check your local outdoor stores. I have a local source but they don’t carry the Merino Wool versions that I prefer so I have purchased mine on Amazon.

Buff Headware on Amazon.com (affiliate link)

Review: Fenix E30R

Earlier this year, I bought a Fenix E30R in the hopes that it would work well as a lightweight, bright, compact, 18650 powered flashlight, for outdoor use. I was basically buying the form-factor as the E30R is just about as small as you can make a 18650 powered light. Unfortunately, the light hasn’t quite worked out like I hoped. It works to be sure but it could be better with some seemingly simple additions.

Overview

The E30R is a compact, USB rechargable flashlight that is powered by a single 18650 or 2 CR123A batteries. It boasts 1600 lumens pushed through a TIR optic to shape the beam.

Size:
Length: 3.9” (99mm)
Body: 0.8” (21.5mm)
Head: 1.0” (25.4mm)

Weight: 1.8 oz. (51g) excluding battery

Battery: One 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery (included) or two CR123A Lithium batteries can be used in an emergency

Included: Fenix ARB-L18-3500 rechargeable Li-ion battery, magnetic charging cable, body clip, lanyard, spare O-ring

Observations from Use

I’ve owned many Fenix lights over the years. In fact, I owned one of the first Fenix lights imported via a group buy on Candlepower forums back in the day. They have always served me well and I have come to trust and even prefer them in many cases. This is the first one that has disappointed me. It looks amazing. It is extremely bright. The form-factor is amazing. The clip is excellent. The output levels are nicely spaced. Fenix got so much right but their user interface design let them down in a big way.

The light can be turned on by a half-second long press on the switch. That means that when you need light, you push the switch and wait. That is annoying. When I push the switch, I want light right then. On top of that, the light always turns on in low mode which can be a good thing unless you want most or even all of the lumens right away. You have to long press to turn the light on and then click to cycle through each of the 5 modes. For example, accessing the Turbo setting from off requires a half-second long press followed by 4 clicks. There is no way to access Turbo or High from off and no mode memory. Either or both of those options would make this light 10 times easier to live with.

I realize that I can’t hold too much of this against the light because I read about the user interface before I bought the light and it is marketed as an EDC light (which is often code for a fiddly user interface in flashlight marketing terms). Still, I was hoping it wouldn’t be as annoying as it seemed… but it is. The user interface is just not well suited to outdoor (and obviously “tactical”) use.

With all that out of the way, I can report that this light is great in other ways. It makes use of a SST40 LED behind a lens and the beam is EXCELLENT. It’s bright, white, and well balanced in terms of throw and spill. The E30R puts all that SST40 efficiency to good use with great mode spacing. In most outdoor use cases, the 350 lumen medium setting is more than enough light and it will give you over 5 hours of runtime in that setting!

In terms of appearance and other physical attributes, the light is a joy. The copper-colored accents look great. The magnetic charging and battery charge indicator are easy to use and functional. The deep carry clip is strong and well designed. The light is easy to hold and operate in spite of its small size.

Wrap Up

This light could have been great as it combines so many great features and attributes in such a small, 18650 powered package. If it just had some sort of output mode memory or a way to go directly to High or Turbo setting, it would be a far more useful light for outdoor use. As it is now, it feels like a light with a lot of unrealized potential. If you are looking for a light for something like EDC in an office, this might work.

I purchased my E30R from FenixLighting.com. It is also available elsewhere including Amazon.com.

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