Monday, October 25, 2010

EDC Medical Equipment - Adventure Medical Kits First Aid Kits

Quite often, when thinking about different gear for every day carry (EDC), it is easy to get caught up in different tools and gadgets. Things such as knives, flashlights, handguns, defensive items, can be fun to think about, collect and train with. However, a most basic aspect of emergency preparation is often overlooked. A very important part of EDC that we all should think about is First Aid.
The Travel Medic is for those who require have no room to spare.

Carrying a first aid kit can be something very important, as many emergency situations involve treating wounded people, either others or yourself. A detailed first aid kit may even save someone's life.

I admit that I have not been carrying a first aid kit as part of my EDC gear until recently. They can be intimidating, since so many people are not trained in first aid. I recently found out about a great company called Adventure Medical Kits, that tries to make first aid as simple as possible.

The great thing about them is that most of their first aid kits come with detailed instruction on how to treat injuries. They also come in fabric cases, which are easily stuffed into a backpack or bag, making carrying one so much easier. Their kits are also organized by treatment, so that you know which supplies to use when the time comes.

A small and affordable option, the First Aid 1.0 kit.
This organization is a huge benefit. Let me explain. Emergency situations are usually highly stressful. They are situations where a person usually loses his/her presence of mind and resorts to his/her training. For someone not familiar with first aid, they would be fumbling around, probably throwing all of the contents of the kit on the ground, trying to find what they need. This could possibly damage and contaminate the supplies and prevent a quick emergency response.

The kits are also very detailed, meaning that they have lots of useful supplies. Depending on which kit you have, it can be used from anything to small cuts and scrapes to gunshot wounds and sutures.

The kit that I carry with me the Sportsman First Aid Kit. It is larger (more supplies), so it needs to be carried in either a bag (fanny pack, messenger bag, backpack, etc.). I found this first aid kit to be detailed enough, but yet not prohibitively large, making it a great choice for EDC. Since carrying it, though, I have had to use it on a few occasions, and not just for first aid.

I chose to carry the detailed yet not overly large Sportsman First Aid Kit.
The non-first aid situation that I was referring to was during a recent weekend adventure. I realized that one of my cargo pockets was coming undone along the bottom. I needed to use this pocket, so I took out one of the safety pins in the kit and used it to close up the hole. The fix worked for the rest of the weekend, all thanks to my first aid kit.

There were also other occasions where I had to use the kit to clean and bandage up some wounds, but none of them were very serious. This kit, however, would work for more serious injuries as well, as it includes large bandages, sponges and wrappings.

I should also go into the contents of this kit, so I will list them below:
Bandages
5 Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 1" x 3"
5 Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
3 Bandage, Butterfly Closure; 1 Bandage, Conforming Gauze, 3"
1 Bandage, Elastic, Self Adhering, 2"
 2 Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 2" x 2", Pkg./2
2 Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 4" x 4", Pkg./2
2 Dressing, Non-Adherent, Sterile, 3" x 4"
Bleeding
2 Gloves, Nitrile (Pair), Hand Wipe; 1 Instructions, Easy Care Bleeding
1 Trauma Pad, 5" x 9"
Blister/Burn
11 Moleskin, Pre-Cut & Shaped
Instrument
3 Safety Pins
1 Scissors, Bandage with Blunt Tip
1 Splinter Picker/Tick Remover Forceps
Medical Information
1 Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine
Medication
2 After Bite Wipe; 2 Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25 mg)
2 Ibuprofen (200 mg), Pkg./2
1 Instructions, Easy Care Medications
Wound Care
5 After Cuts & Scrapes Anethestic/Antiseptic Wipe
1 Cotton Tip Applicator, Pkg./2
1 Dressing, Petrolatum, 3" x 3"
1 Instructions, Easy Care Wound
1 Tape, 1/2" x 10 Yards
1 Tincture of Benzoin Topical Adhesive
3 Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Single Use

As you can see, this kit is fairly detailed, and it fits into a small package. Take a look at some of the first aid kits offered by Adventure Medical Kits. Make one part of your EDC and be prepared for medical emergencies as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Gerber Artifact Keychain Multi-Tool

People usually put trinkets or knick-knacks on their keychains for sentimental value. Personally, I do not understand that. I mean, if you are going to carry something around with you everywhere, why not carry something useful? All those trinkets add up and can end up being pretty heavy. I've seen people's keychains be so big and bulky that it becomes hard to carry them.

For a person with a preparedness mindset, the objects carried on one's person should be carefully chosen, since we, as human beings, can only comfortably carry a limited weight. We ought to make the most of the weight that we choose to carry.

Today, I'd like to review a tool that would actually be useful hanging off of your keychain. It's multi-tool but unlike most multi-tools, it's very small and light.

The Gerber Artifact is seven tools in one.
I'll be reviewing the Gerber Artifact. Somehow, Gerber was able to fit seven different tools into one small tool that can be easily carried on a keychain.

With the Artifact on your keychain, you have a:
- Liner Locking EAB #11 Hobby Blade
- Philips Driver
- Small Flat Driver
- Medium Flat Driver
- Bottle Opener
- Wire Stripper
- Pry Bar

The Artifact weighs in at 1.4 oz, is 3.5" long and only 1/4" thick. To me, that's just amazing.

While I personally have only handled the Artifact, I can say that it's a very solid feeling tool, and would not take up much space on a keychain. I've seen a pry bar keychain tool take up almost as much room. For near the same weight as a small pry bar, which in itself is a very useful item, you get a lot more with the Artifact.

The Gerber Artifact comes with a liner-locking blade.
It's also amazing that the blade on the Artifact is liner-locking. I wasn't expect that when I first saw the Artifact. This would make cutting much safer. I should also mention that the Artifact comes with three, razor-sharp replacement blades in case the main blade breaks or becomes too dull to use.

So for any of you looking for a small, keychain tool that would increase your capabilities, the Gerber Artifact might be something to consider.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Carry or Not To Carry? - Part 2

Today, we'll get back to where we left off in the story from yesterday. If you are finding this post randomly among others, here is your one chance to not spoil the story.
Click here to be redirected to the beginning of the story: To Carry or Not to Carry?
Otherwise, things won't make much sense and you won't get the full effect.

To recap where we left off, here are the last two paragraphs from the previous post.

You quickly take your kids out of the cart and cover their mouths again. You crouch behind an aisle, catching a glimpse of a man walking towards you and your children. He has a crazed look in his eye, and is holding what looks like a large rifle. He pumps the action, and a large red casing falls to the floor... you instantly recall your grandpa's old shotgun. "He must have a 12 gauge", you think to yourself.

The figure stops as he notices you. You freeze, petrified with fear. He points the gun at you and...*click* He's out of shells. He quickly puts his hand into his pocket, with a frustrated look in his eyes. He pulls his hand out, you see a red shell in it.

You realize that he has to reload... You only have a few seconds to act.

Now here is the question, what is the one thing that you wish you had with you right now?

I'll let you think about this one for a moment. It is good to always think about your options, when faced with a difficult situation, and this situation is about as difficult as they come. Here are a few of your options, along with the specific scenarios surrounding them.

Scenario #1:
You have your kids crouch behind you as you peek halfway into the aisle. Realizing that you have to act, you consider your options. The only items you have on you are your wallet, keys and cell phone. You can try and run, and it might work, if only you were by yourself. But your children are with you, and your obligation as a parent is to protect them, first and foremost. The only remaining option that you can think of is to charge the attacker and attempt to wrestle the gun out of his hands.

You decide to charge him, closing the 10 yard gap at what seemed to take half a minute. With about 2 yards left, you leap towards him, trying to take him down. The attacker, however, saw your move. He braced himself, using his shotgun as a shield, and deflected your body with a sidestep, causing you to fall to the ground. You are now looking up at him. He looks down at you with a sinister grin and quickly inserts the shell into the chamber. Racking the action forward, he chambers the shell. "Boom!"

After the shot, the last sound you hear is that of your crying children. You say goodbye to this world, wishing you could have done more.

Scenario #2:
You have your kids crouch behind you as you peek halfway into the aisle. Realizing that you have to act, you thank God that you had the sense of mind to grab your CZ P-01 handgun on the way out of the house. You consider your options. You can try and run, but having two young children to defend rules that out. The only option that remains is to shoot the attacker.

Using the precious seconds that you have left, you quickly draw the handgun from its holster concealed under your shirt, while he tries to reload. It's a race to the death. Luckily your firearm is already loaded...

CZ P-01 - The handgun that you chose to take - Review Coming!
As you grab the gun and bring it up to fire, you remember your training. "Front sight, front sight, front sight", you repeat to yourself. As soon as you see his blurry form covered by the front sight of the pistol, you squeeze the trigger, taking a shot. "Bang!" 

Your kids begin to scream and cry, but you don't even hear them. All of your concentration is on the front sight. Nothing else matters at this moment.

The attacker is shot in the left arm. He stumbles back, shocked that you have a gun. Seemingly undeterred, he continues trying to load his shotgun.

Seeing this, you take another three shots. "Bang! Bang! Bang!" Two of the shots hit him in the chest, and one flies just past his right shoulder, getting lodged in a case of water bottles on the shelf behind him. The second round of shots has a heavier impact upon him than the first, and he stumbles back, falling to the ground. It doesn't look like he can fight any longer.

Realizing that the threat has probably been diminished, you slowly back up, while having your handgun still aimed at the attacker's body.

Not turning your back to him, you move your kids to the next aisle with your offhand, still maintaining a firm grip on the handgun. You grab your kids and rush toward the front of the store, leaving the milk, which is now the last thing on your mind. You move to check on the body of the attacker. He's still laying there, motionless. You then holster your handgun and leave the store, finding a safe location to call the police.

The whole ordeal only lasts about two minutes, but those were the longest two minutes of your life.

As the police arrive five minutes later, you count your blessings. You will never go anywhere without legally carrying a firearm again.

So, which do you choose? The obvious choice is Scenario #2. In that scenario, there really was only one option for you in that situation if you wanted to survive. Actually, in this situation the only tool that could have saved you was a firearm. Through previous training, awareness, concentration, and action, you were able to save your life and the lives of your children.

As I continue to write about self defense in this blog, remember that self defense is not about taking lives, it is about protecting the innocent. It is about protecting your life and the lives that you are responsible for. It is a sacred right and one that should never be taken away, or given away freely.

Self defense can only be truly actualized through the use of effective tools. Today, the most effective defensive tool is a firearm. Just like computers and the media are critical to the right to free speech, the right to own firearms is critical to the right to self defense. Without them, you are at a severe disadvantage against someone who has one.

The right to self defense follows very closely after the right to life.

Never forget that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

To Carry or Not To Carry?

Today, I wanted to write about different kinds of concealed carry pistols, but before I write about that, I should backtrack a little bit and ask you this:
"To carry or not to carry?"

Taurus TCP - Great Carry Choice - Review Coming Soon!
It's a very important question to ask oneself, whether you are a die-hard self-defense supporter, or a person on the other end of the spectrum. Hopefully, reading this post will get you thinking.

Now close your eyes and imagine this situation, because similar situations have happened.

You are in a grocery store, with your two young children, Johnny aged 5, and Suzy aged 2. You really didn't feel like coming into the store at 9:30 pm, especially after a long day at work, but little Johnny really wanted some milk and, after checking the fridge, you saw that there was none left. Your spouse is out with some friends, leaving you with the kids.

 As usual, the milk is in the very back of the store, forcing you to go all the way to the back with your two fidgety kids. Luckily, the store has those two-seater carts, so your kids are sitting. Still, with every colorful object that they see on the shelf, they try and jump out. You are really losing your patience.

 You finally find the milk, and put two gallons into your cart. "Alright, time to check out," you say to yourself, heading towards the front of the store.

 Then you hear it. At first, you don't really know what's going on. Wow, that was loud. You hear another gunshot. "Bang!" Followed by screaming. Then another "Bang! Bang!" Then silence...

 Your kids begin to cry, but you quickly cover their mouths, panicking. Something serious is happening. "This can't be happening to me...", you say to yourself.

You release your hands from your children's mouth to try to see what is going on. As they being to whimper again, you catch a glimpse down an aisle towards the front of the store. The cashier and a shopper are laying down motionless. Surrounding them is a pool of blood, slowly getting larger. Presumably, they have been killed. You think to yourself, "Maybe, if I stay here and keep quiet, then whoever did this will just take the money behind the register and leave."

He doesn't leave. He doesn't want to leave. He is there for one purpose only:
To Kill Everyone In The Store

12 Gauge Shotgun Shells - 00 Buckshot
You quickly take your kids out of the cart and cover their mouths again. You crouch behind an aisle, catching a glimpse of a man walking towards you and your children. He has a crazed look in his eye, and is holding what looks like a large rifle. He pumps the action, and a large red casing falls to the floor... you instantly recall your grandpa's old shotgun. "He must have a 12 gauge", you think to yourself.


The figure stops as he notices you. You freeze, petrified with fear. He points the gun at you and...*click* He's out of shells. He quickly puts his hand into his pocket, with a frustrated look in his eyes. He pulls his hand out, you see a red shell in it.

You realize that he has to reload... You only have a few seconds to act.

Now here is the question, what is the one thing that you wish you had with you right now?

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing an EDC Knife

Today, I'm going to be writing about an important and relevant topic, the topic being Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC).

An EDC knife should be light, easy to carry and functional for the broadest possible kinds of situations that you may encounter throughout the day. Let's list some of the possible situations that you may encounter; situations that would benefit from the use of a knife.

Some things you may use an EDC knife for: 
A larger EDC knife, such as this CRKT M16 SFG has a lot of capabilities.
- Cutting/Opening Packages
  and Envelopes
- Cutting Rope
- Food Preparation
- Cutting soft plant material
- Chopping through wood
- Picking out splinters/
  Emergency Medical Use
- Self-Defense

One type of knife could not possible be the best in all of these jobs. One knife may be perfect at one kind of job but be horrible at another. Again, like with all EDC gear, the proper balance has to be considered. The item must be practical, useful and of appropriate size and weight.

Recommended EDC knife Qualities: 

After years of carrying a knife daily, I will give you my recommendations for an EDC knife. Take this information as my opinion, since the best knife for me might not be the best knife for you. Hopefully, you can use my suggestions to form a system that will work the best for you.

An EDC knife should be a folding knife with a solid lockup.
A knife that is meant to be carried should be as small as possible for the length and capabilities of the blade that you are getting. The best designs that I have found to be as size/weight efficient as possible have been folding knife designs.

A solid lockup when opened is a very important safety feature on a knife. It prevents the blade from accidentally closing during use, making it similar to a fixed blade in functionality. I advise against carrying a blade that does not come equipped with a lock (slip joints). Those might have worked well for grandpa, but there are better designs out there and they should be utilized. The lockup on a good folding knife should be solid, with no side to side or foward/back movement. Popular lock designs are liner/frame locks and lock backs, although there are others. The designs vary in strength and in cost. I do not really have a favorite lock design, as they all can be good and strong enough for daily cutting tasks.


The Cold Steel Super Edge is a good EDC fixed blade choice.
Now, you can tell that I like folding knives for EDC. There are reasons to carry a fixed blade, however. Fixed blades are intrinsically stronger than folding knives due to them usually being made out of a solid piece of steel. There is no pivot point, which is normally the weakest point on a folding knife. While the sort of strength that would require a fixed blade isn't usually necessary for an EDC knife, I am sure that, for some, it is.

An EDC knife should be around 2 - 4 ounces in weight.
Lets face it, steel is heavy while other materials such as plastics, are light. The more steel you have on your knife, the stronger it will be, but it will also weigh more. A strong knife has a steel blade, a steel locking mechanism, steel liners or handles and a steel pocket clip. The balance of not too little and not too much steel, from my experience, falls somewhere between 2 to 4 ounces. This should give you adequate strength while not weighing you down too much.

An EDC knife should have a  2.5 - 4 inch blade with a sharp tip.
Granted some blade lengths are not legal to carry in certain areas of the world, a nice, useful blade length for an EDC knife falls somewhere between 2.5 - 4 inches, with a preference toward longer-bladed knives. This length enables the knife to be most easily used for the greatest variety of tasks, from cutting open packages and envelopes, to cutting food, to defending your life. A tiny knife is impractical for some of these tasks, while a larger knife is harder to carry.

The importance of a sharp tip should also not be forgotten. A sharp tip is extremely useful for certain tasks which require precise cutting. One example would be the removal of a wooden splinter from your hand. A sharp tip makes this task possible, whereas a blunt tipped knife wouldn't get the job done, and you would be stuck with a splinter still in your hand.

An EDC knife should have handles that allow for a firm, comfortable grip.
The handles on the Kershaw Blitz / Nerve are excellent.
The handle is the contact between you and the knife. It is an important feature of your knife that should not be overlooked. An uncomfortable handle, or a handle that slides around in your hand can be dangerous and inhibit your ability to use the knife to its fullest potential. A handle should be contoured to fit the hand. It should be textured but not overly so. It should match the length of the blade that you are using. For example, you wouldn't want a knife with a tiny blade and a huge handle, or a huge blade and a small handle. Most knife designs have adequate handles, but it is still a feature that should be analyzed before settling upon and EDC knife choice.

An EDC knife should have a pocket clip which enables tip up carry and rides low in the pocket.
Now this recommendation mainly has to do with personal preference and it is not a deal breaker if the knife does not have this ability. From personal experience and experimentation, I have found that carrying a knife tip up enables the fastest possible draw, from the time you decide to pull out your knife, to the time that it's deployed.

Let me explain why. Imagine a folded knife with the tip facing down. When you draw it out of your pocket, with your hand facing down, you have to rotate the knife so that the tip faces up to deploy it. When the knife has the tip facing up in the pocket, this rotation is not necessary, which makes the deployment faster.

The pocket clip should enable the knife to ride low in the pocket so that it has less of a tendency to fall out, is less likely to bump into and scratch things and draws less attention to itself.

Note that this is just what works best for me. What works best for you may be different.

An EDC knife should cost no less than $20.
I was trying to see how I could incorporate a quality component into my EDC knife requirements. While it isn't an end-all requirement, from my experience, an EDC knife should cost at least $20. Knowing that quality comes at a cost, you usually get what you pay for. Of course, you can always find things on sale, so take this suggestion with a grain or two of salt. Stay clear of those "bargain knives" from Chinese knockoff or no-name companies that cost $1-$10. The steel and edge geometry is usually inferior. In the end, if you buy a Chinese knockoff, you will most likely end up throwing it away, and then buying a higher quality knife. You actually save money by buying a slightly more expensive EDC knife.

What are my recommendations?
Now, there are many great EDC knife choices available; too many to list. I'll list only a few of my favorites.

Smaller Size:
Don't be fooled by the price. The CRKT Drifter rocks!
For a knife with a 2.5-3" blade, I recommend the excellent CRKT Drifter. It is a less expensive knife due to being produced overseas, but do not let this fool you. The reputable knife manufacturer, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), has good quality control on their products. This is shown on the Drifter. There are two versions, G-10 and Stainless. Both are good and have all of the qualities that I look for in an EDC knife, except for being tip down carry only. This can be overlooked because of the excellent price and quality.

Larger Size:
Elegant and functional describe the Buck Vantage.
For a knife with a 3-4" blade, I recommend something like the Buck Vantage Select or the Kershaw Blitz/Nerve. These knives are larger, but provide more utility than that smaller knives. They both have solid lockups on their blades, have comfortable grips, are of high quality and do not cost very much.

Summary:

An EDC knife is a knife of compromises. You want a knife that is not too large, not too small, not too heavy while still being strong. You want it to be useful in the broadest amount of jobs that you might use a knife for. Choosing an EDC knife might be a daunting tasks, but don't forget, that your choice is not eternal. As you learn, and new knife designs come out, your EDC choice will no doubt change and become more specialized to the tasks that you come across. Do not be afraid to experiment.

Well, I've written a pretty long post on the topic of Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC). However, this is still only scratching the surface when it comes to the topic of knives and their utility. As I continue using knives and learning more about them, my views will undoubtedly change. If any of you have any criticisms or differences in opinion, feel free to share a comment below.

Remember, we are here to help and learn from each other.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Importance of a Flashlight

A flashlight is an important piece of every day carry (EDC) gear that many people often overlook. According to some people, a flashlight is only useful at night while camping or going somewhere without electricity. I remember a time when I thought that way too.

A flashlight, to me, the younger me, was something big and clunky. If you wanted a bright flashlight, you had to purchase one with one of those HUGE 9V brick-type batteries, or at least 3 or 4 D cells. Don't forget, that it has to weigh at least 5 pounds or it can't possibly be bright. You guys remember those Maglites that you could use to pound tent stakes into the ground with? Well, that's what I thought a decent flashlight was, and 15 years ago, that was the best technology, as far as I knew.

Fast forward to today. If you still think that Mag-Lites are good for anything other than for use as a mallet, welcome to the 21st century. Today, we have flashlight companies such as Surefire, Streamlight, Fenix, 4Sevens, just to name a few, that offer much brighter lights than any Maglite in a much smaller size. It really is amazing.

For example, take the Preon 1 by 4Sevens. It's a flashlight that you literally can forget about when it's on your person. Weighing in at 0.9 oz with a battery, and outputting a maximum of 70 lumens, this is one of the smallest and brightest flashlights that I have come across.

Ok, you've shown me that bright flashlights can be small, but why is a flashlight so useful?

The Preon 1 by 4Sevens packs 70 lumens into 0.9 oz (w/ battery)!
Now, I'm all sure that we've experienced situations where we drop something in a dark movie theater, or are looking for something behind a cabinet that's against the wall. In those situations, we use our cell phones or just try and make due with what we have, not realizing that there is a better option out there. You really don't notice how useful a flashlight can be until you make it part of your EDC gear. With a flashlight, you no longer have to fumble around the floor for something that you dropped, or look for a light when you're trying to plug cables into the back of your computer. There are countless situations where having a flashlight, even during the day, can be very beneficial.

Flashlight for Self-Defense

Now, I'd like to mention a very important topic, one that we all should consider when choosing items for our EDC. I'll start by saying that, when we choose our EDC gear, it is always a good idea to choose items that have multiple uses. For example, some cell phones can be used as a music player, a stopwatch, a camera, etc. along with making phone calls. We must realize that some items that we carry with us can also be used defensively without being carried exclusively for self-defense. Items like firearms and pepper spray, are very appropriate and functional for defensive situations, but are mainly carried exclusively for defense and practically fulfill no other role. Items that can be used for daily tasks along with defensive tasks are, but are not limited to, knives and flashlights. While I plan on discussing defensive knife uses in the future, in this post, I will stick to flashlights.

How can a flashlight be used for Self-Defense?

One way that a flashlight can be used for self-defense is as an impact device. The flashlight doesn't even have to be functional for this method to work. Heck, Maglite's were great for that. There is another method that a flashlight can be used for defense and it doesn't involve getting down and dirty with the attacker. Just flash it in their eyes. Granted it has to be dark, but this method can be very useful for getting out of a dangerous situation.

Imagine a Maelstrom G5 shining 350 lumens of light into your eyes.
If you've ever been flashed in the eyes at night, you'll know what I'm referring to. Imagine walking at night and being blasted by 350 lumens from a Maelstrom G5. The person getting lit up would be blinded for a couple of seconds, enough time for you to quickly run away. This works especially well if the person getting flashed isn't expecting it. If you need to, you can always finish it off with a bonk to the cranium, but you might not have to in order to get away.

Now, I personally have not had to do this but I have heard of stories from people who have. While a flashlight does not beat a firearm or other tool specifically designed for self-defense, it can get you out of harms way without hurting anyone. It is also is legal to carry everywhere that I know of and you won't have people freaking out if they happen to see one on your person.

So take that all into consideration when choosing your EDC gear. A flashlight is something that you might want to incorporate into your system. Analyze the benefits/drawbacks and, most importantly, choose a system that works best for you!