Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review - Cold Steel Urban Pal

Cold Steel, as many of you know, is an excellent knife company. Along with making great folding knives and fixed blades, they make a variety of unique knives, knives from different countries, cultures and for uses other than utility work. They're one of the few mainstream knife companies that unapologetically advertise their knives for self defense, which is actually something that I respect.

No different is the defensive series of fixed-blade keychain knives that Cold Steel makes. This series consists of the Mini Pal, the Urban Pal and the Super Edge. Although they can be used for utility work, the main reason for having these knives is to have a small but effective defensive tool with you whenever you have your keys with you, which is pretty much any time that you leave the house.

The Cold Steel Urban Pal is a great EDC defensive fixed blade.
In an assault, especially sexual assaults targeted at women, an attacker would usually grab a hold of the victim. In such a situation, a sharp jab from one of these knives will probably surprise the attacker enough to let go of the victim. Depending on the situation, this may give the victim enough time to escape and make the attacker think twice about going after the victim again.

The small size of these knives makes them great for concealing and also good for those who want a defensive knife, but not one large enough to kill a person with. With the small size of these knives, unless a major artery is cut, they will only cause superficial damage which is enough to inflict major pain but not to kill.

While I may review the others in the future, today I wanted to specifically look at the Urban Pal.

As the name suggest, this knife can be considered a "pal" in a difficult social situation;,situations that are far too often present in urban settings.

The Secure-Ex sheath holds the Urban Pal, well, securely.
The weight of the Urban Pal is only 0.6 oz and with the sheath, only weighs 1 oz. It's overall length is 3.2", with a 1.4" blade. Designed to maximize control over the blade in a minimum overall size, this knife has a T-shaped handle. Known as a push dagger by many, this handle shape allows for the blade to be held securely in the hand. The blade to handle ratio in the Urban Pal is so good that the blade (1.4") is actually longer than the handle (1.1")!

Made out of AUS 8A stainless steel, the blade holds an edge well. To maximize the effectiveness of the blade and to effectively increase the cutting area, the blade is fully serrated. Only a small portion of the tip is left unserrated, for fine detail work should this knife be put to utility use.

A knife is only as good as it's sheath and the sheath on the Urban Pal is fitting to the quality of the blade. The sheath is made out of Secure-Ex Polymer and holds the blade securely. The sheath has 6 grommet holes, which allow the blade to be attached and carried in many ways, not only as a keychain knife. However, it also includes a split keyring, making the knife ready to be carried from the keys right when you get it.

If you're in the market for a defensive blade but either don't want to carry a full-sized folding knife, or just want more options in the blades that you carry, the Urban Pal may be the blade for you. It would also make a great gift for a female friend or family member and would really show that you care about their safety.

With small but effective knives like these on the market, there really is no reason to be without at least one knife on your person anytime you leave the home.


The Cold Steel Urban Pal can be seen in action here in Cold Steel's video.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Disse Outdoor Gear - Everyday Carry Packs

This is a preliminary review for a new company that I just was introduced to. The company is called Disse Outdoor Gear and they make a whole variety of everyday carry (EDC) packs.

The Captus 1hb is one of Disse's more functional packs.
Now I know that the whole concept of EDC is to have the greatest amount of versatility in the tools that you carry, all in the smallest possible package, to allow you to carry these tools with you at all times. Now this mainly consists of a folding knife, wallet, watch, cell phone, flashlight, and pistol. If you want more capabilities than this, you'll either have to load up your cargo pockets or carry a bag/pouch with you.

Personally, I feel like the more comfortable option would be to go with a bag rather than load up your pockets to a point where walking becomes uncomfortable.

Now, the next problem would be to find a bag that is functional, yet looks good. I mean, we don't want to be labeled as carrying a purse, do we? It's not a purse, it's a "tactical carry-all" aka an EDC Pack.

The Celo 2ed in Olive Tan is the pack that I'm planning on carrying.
Anyways, ever since looking into Disse's product line, I have been impressed with what they offer. Currently, their EDC packs are all of the single-strap variety, with two of them (Quadrula-X, Receptrix) having the ability to be carried by a carry handle if the strap is removed. They all remind me of messenger bags, although having many more pockets, and attachment points.

Along with having great packs, Disse has detailed videos of all of their products.

Having even one of their smaller bags such as the Quadrula-X greatly increases your ability to carry useful gear. Now, along with your most basic tools, you can have things such as a first-aid kit, camera, pens/pencils, paper, eating utensils, more specialized tools, cordage, fire starting material, poncho, etc.



Your possibilities are greatly enhanced without much difficulty, by carrying an EDC pack. Having such a pack opens up your options so much that I'm actually going to start carrying one very soon. Expect an in-depth review once I carry it for a few weeks. In the meantime, check out some of these Disse EDC packs for yourself!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

EDC Update - Importance of an EDC Flashlight - 4Sevens Quark 123² Turbo

Hey, so I figured I'd write up my experiences of carrying an everyday carry (EDC) flashlight during the past few months.

The 4Sevens Quark 123² Turbo is the
light I chose as my EDC flashlight.
Before starting this blog, I always carried a folding knife, but rarely had a flashlight on my person. I guess you can call it laziness, but I never got around to actually purchasing a flashlight designed to be carried daily. I had two requirements for a light, well 3 really. I needed the flashlight to be compact, have a pocket clip and, last but not least, to be bright.

After being turned on to 4Sevens, and seeing the value of their flashlights, I ended up purchasing a 4Sevens Quark 123² Turbo and haven't looked back since. There are many other great flashlights on the market, by many great companies, but the things that the Quark 123² Turbo offered, I felt, was better suited for me.

Without turning this into a full-scale review, I'll just go over some of the key features of the light. The flashlight has a good size, being 4.9" long and weighing 3.9 oz with the batteries installed. The flashlight outputs 230 lumens on max mode, which is very bright. It is turned on and off by a clicky switch on the tailcap and has 8 programmable modes: Moonlight, Low, Medium, High, Max, SOS, Strobe and Beacon. Two of the eight modes can be saved onto the light for quick access either by tightening or loosening the head of the flashlight.

This flashlight is a thrower, meaning that it is meant to shine far away. It has a bright, concentrated center spot, which is great for shining at far objects. It isn't as good is you're looking for a smooth, even beam for up-close lighting. However, having the ability to illuminate things far away is worth having a brighter center spot when shining up close.

The smooth, deep reflector makes this light a thrower.
Since it's a thrower, the light has a deep, smooth reflector, making the head of the light longer and thicker in diameter than other, similar flashlights. Surprisingly, this thicker head doesn't bother me when I carry the light in a pocket. I don't notice it. I really like the light, and after carrying it for about 7 months, it would still be my #1 choice for a flashlight.

So, like I said, I've been carrying the light for some time. While not being as useful as a knife, having the flashlight on me has helped with everyday tasks. Usually it's to find something that I dropped under a sofa or behind a piece of furniture. It's also been useful in navigating in the dark.

After getting used to carrying a light with me daily, I won't go back to not having one. Think of it this way. What is your most useful sense? It's your vision. When it's dark somewhere, your vision is diminished. You are basically blind. Having a flashlight on your person lets you keep your vision whenever and wherever you go. It's a great idea to have one, whether it is a light as bright as a Quark 123² Turbo or as small as a Preon 1. Either one can help you in a pinch. In some cases, it may even save your life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review - PowerPax Battery Caddies

Every once in a while, you see a product that just makes you think, "Huh, what a great idea. I wish I had thought of that." Well, PowerPax Battery Caddies are such a product. I'm actually really surprised that they're not more popular than they already are.

The PowerPax Original Caddy holds AA, AAA, C and 9V batteries.
We've all carried loose batteries at one point or another. Whether for a digital camera, a flashlight, or other various electronic devices. Carrying spare batteries is crucial if you're intending on using the device for any longer length of time. With carrying spare batteries comes the difficulty of keeping them organized. For the longest time, I would keep my spare batteries in a ziploc bag. That worked, but it never kept them together too well; sometimes the bag would rip. It just wasn't very convenient.

Then, I saw PowerPax and, right away, I knew that this is an item that I could use. PowerPax Battery Caddies are simple holders for your most popular battery types. They come in various sizes, each carrying a different amount of batteries. With all of the PowerPax models out there, you can find a caddy for your specific need, whether it's only a few batteries for a short trip, or a caddy that can store many different types of batteries. Heck, they also make a PowerPax Caddy for the popular CR123A battery (often used in flashlights).

The SlimLine AA is one of the most useful caddies.
PowerPax also come in many neat colors, of them being Bright Orange, Yellow, Military Green, Black and even a Glow-in-the-Dark model. They are made out of a very high quality polymer that is both lightweight and strong. While they may seem a bit pricey at first, these Battery Caddies will last for many years of good use.

I have used PowerPax for a few months now and have found them to be very useful. I keep a few in my camera bag so that I never run out of batteries for my electronics. If you're a person that uses batteries while on the go, which most people are, definitely check PowerPax out. You'll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

550 Paracord for EDC

Cordage is incredibly useful on outdoor adventures, but it is something that is often overlooked in one's everyday carry loadout. Granted it's not as useful as a knife, or even a flashlight, it can, every once in a while, come in handy, particularly if in a location where finding a suitable alternative isn't possible or easy to do.

550 Paracord has 7 strands and comes in many cool colors.
One of the most versatile types of cordage is 500 parachute cord (AKA paracord or 550 cord). It is a very useful cordage, with uses beyond what you might think at first glance. Looking at 550 cord, it looks very much like a shoelace. You wouldn't think that it has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. Although it is not meant as climbing rope, I have held my body weight with a single strand of 550 cord. I should also add that when bouncing on it, it has snapped. Again, it is not meant for climbing, but it is strong.

Standard 550 paracord also has 7 white inner strands, which can be used for smaller tasks: sewing, fishing, even flossing. With 550 cord, you effectively have 8 times the length of cord: 7 inner strands + the outer sheath.

Here is the tensile strength breakdown of 550 Paracord:
Outside Sheath - 305 lbs
Inner Strand - 35 lbs each x 7 strands
---------------------------------
Total Strength - 550 lbs

Paracord Fun

Paracord also comes in many great colors. It comes in practically any color that you can think of. Whether you want high-visibility orange, or olive drab, it's all there.

Paracord Bracelets are fun to wear and are gaining in popularity.
Going along with the popularity of paracord, there is a growing trend of people wearing paracord bracelets. Although not really having a practical purpose other than fashion, these bracelets can be made in any color and look really nice. I often wear one myself. 550 paracord lanyards are also gaining popularity.

If you haven't seen 550 paracord by now, you are missing out. It's got a lot of great utility as well as being fun to play with. It's definitely worth buying a hank of cord and seeing what uses you can come up with.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review - FOURSEVENS Preon P1

A excellent EDC choice for someone who wants a little more style in their flashlight, the Preon P1 is small, bright durable and really cool looking. Coming in 4 bright colors, and even a titanium version, there really is a Preon P1 for everyone.

The Preon P1 is powered by one AAA battery, giving you 60 lumens out of the front of the light. This isn't an extreme brightness, but considering the size of the Preon P1, it is very good. The current model of the Preon P1 is powered by a CREE XP-G S2 LED, which is CREE's most efficient XP-G LED.

The Preon P1 has 7 lighting modes. They are listed below.

The Preon P1 by FOURSEVENS
comes in many different colors.
The modes are:
Low(1.8 lumens, 23 hours)
Medium(8.5 lumens, 6 hours)
High(70 lumens, 0.8 hours)
Strobe(1.6 hours)
Beacon (High)(8 hours)
Beacon (Low)(40 hours)
S.O.S.(2.4 hours)

Operating the Preon P1 is fairly straightforward. The light is turned on by tightening the head. Likewise, the light is turned off by loosening the flashlight head.

The Preon 1 has a textured reflector, giving a soft, diffuse beam.
To select a different level of constant output, turn the Preon P1 off and then on again within 1 second. This will select the next level of constant output in the following sequence:

Low » Medium » High

If the light is turned off for 2 seconds or longer, it will revert back to Low.

The Preon P1 has 4 special output modes: Strobe, S.O.S., Beacon (High), and Beacon (Low). To access these modes, quickly switch through two full "cycles" of the regular outputs, starting with Low. These two full cycles must be completed within 3 seconds:

Low » Medium » High » Low » Medium » High » Special Outputs

You can continue to cycle through the special outputs in the following sequence:

Strobe » S.O.S. » Beacon (High) » Beacon (Low)

The Preon P1 comes with a AAA battery,
spare o-rings and a keychain/lanyard ring.
After Beacon (Low) mode, the output reverts back to Regular Low. Both Beacon modes will first flash 5 times and then once every 10 seconds.

The Preon P1 is constructed out of aircraft grade aluminum (except for the titanium version, obviously). The colors are hard-anodized onto the aluminum, giving a very even and elegant finish. The flashlight weighs 0.9 oz with the included AAA battery. It is 3.0" long and 0.55" in diameter. It really is a very small and lightweight flashlight.

Carrying the Preon P1 is very simple as well. It can either be done with the included pocket clip, or the pocket clip can be swapped out for a keychain/lanyard ring. If you wish, you can take just throw it in a pocket or pouch and carry it like that. With the small size of the Preon 1, there really are a number of carry options available.

I should also say, that like all FOURSEVENS flashlights, the Preon P1 is waterproof. It has a o-ring seals on all openings. This particular flashlight is waterproof to 10 meters for 30 minutes, as rated by FOURSEVENS.

What do I think about it? Well, I love the flashlight. Bright flashlights don't have to look bland anymore. The bright colors offered by the Preon P1 are very attractive. For those who want a colorful but no less functional flashlight, definitely consider the Preon P1.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review - 4Sevens Quark Turbo Series

The Quark Turbo series of flashlights
are a great EDC choice.
There are basically two types of flashlights. Flashlights that are commonly called "throwers" (far shining) and flashlights called "flooders" (close shining). 4Sevens makes a series of fairly small throwers, only marginally bigger than their Quark series of EDC flashlights. If you're looking for an small, inexpensive thrower, than look no further than the Quark Turbo series of flashlights.

The Quark Turbo comes in two flavors: One that uses two CR123A batteries and one that uses two AA batteries. They are both similar in brightness, varying mainly in size and in weight. The Quark 123² Turbo (CR123A batteries) is lighter and smaller, while the Quark AA² Turbo is longer and heavier.

I'll list the specifics behind each light below, then I'll go into the review for the flashlight in general. Both flashlights are excellent, so the difference is mainly between the types of batteries that you wish to use.

Quark AA² Turbo:
Weight with Batteries 5.4 oz
Weight without Batteries 3.7 oz
Length 6.2 in
Head Diameter 1.2 in
Body Diameter 0.87 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G S2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 0.9V - 4.2V
Battery AA
Battery Amount 2
Max/Min Output 190 lumens/0.6 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 1065 hours (Moonlight)/47 minutes (Max)

Quark 123² Turbo:
Weight with Batteries 3.9 oz
Weight without Batteries 2.8 oz
Length 4.9 in
Head Diameter 1.2 in
Body Diameter 0.87 in
Bulb/Emmiter CREE XP-G S2 LED
Operating Voltage Range 3.0V - 9.0V
Battery CR123A
Battery Amount 2
Max/Min Output 200 lumens/0.7 lumens
Max/Min Runtime 800 hours (Moonlight)/2 hours 30 minutes (Max)

The deep, smooth reflector lets the Quark Turbo shine far.
As you can see, the differences in the two types of flashlights mainly lies in their dimensions and weight. Since AA batteries are longer and heavier than CR123A batteries, the flashlight that uses them is also longer and heaver. However, there is a benefit to the AA battery. It is more commonly available, which can be very important. If you can't resupply batteries for your flashlights, it's just a fancy paperweight.

The Quark Turbo series, like the Quark series, is made out of type III anodized aircraft grade aluminum. It has ample knurling on the whole body. It is very easy to hold. It has a larger head than the Quark flashlights, due to its deeper, smoother reflector. This reflector is the secret behind the further shining beam. Flashlights with deep, smooth reflectors have a more concentrated beam, which translates to a beam that can illuminate objects that are far away.

You can clearly see the bright spot in the middle of the beam.
Looking at the beam pattern, it has a bright spot in the middle, and then dims out around the edges. This is great for far-away illumination, but not as good for close-up work. If you are mainly going to be illuminating objects at a distance of 25 yards or less, I would suggest choosing a different light, since it will give you a more diffuse beam pattern. However, if you see yourself needing a further, shining beam, or don't mind a bright spot in the middle, then the Quark Turbo is something you may want. Continue reading...

The Quark Turbo can be carried easily due to it's removeable/reversable pocket clip. I have had a lot of experience using the Quark 123² Turbo and I must say that it's pretty comfortable to carry. I cannot speak for the Quark AA² Turbo, since it is 1.3" longer. I would guess that, for some, it might be too long to carry comfortably.

Programming & Use

The flashlight is turned on via a clicky tailcap switch. You can also press the tailcap lightly (you don't have to "click" it on) to activate the light momentarily. This is known as the "momentary-on" feature. This feature is useful for quick flashes of light. It's a lot more convenient to be able to tap the button to shine the beam, and then let it go when you no longer want to use the light, than to have to depress the tailcap fully to turn the light on.
The protruding tailcap is easily depressed.
The programming of the Quark Turbo is identical to that of the Quark Tactical. The Quark Turbo can memorize any two modes of output, from its eight total modes, to be instantly available. These two memorized modes are accessed by either tightening or loosening the head (for example, tight can be Max, and loose can be Low).

To have your Quark Turbo memorize a different mode, turn it on and loosen the head by a half-turn. Then, tighten the head at least four times rapidly (twisting it tight, then loose, then tight, etc., four times). After the fourth time, leave the head tight or loose depending which position you want to program.

After three seconds, the light will flash, signaling it is ready to be programmed. Cycle through the eight available modes by clicking the tailcap off and on. The mode sequence is as follows:
The Quark Turbo comes with a many accessories.
Moonlight » Low » Medium » High » Max » SOS » Strobe » Beacon

Once you find your desired mode, leave that mode on for ten seconds and the light will flash again, confirming that the mode has been memorized. To cancel programming before it flashes, turn the flashlight off for three seconds.

Waterproof

The Quark Turbo, like all 4Sevens flashlights, is waterproof. It can go 10 meters underwater for 30 minutes, which is very impressive. I actually went to a swimming pool with the Quark 123² Turbo in my pocket. After 3 hours of swimming, the flashlight still functioned perfectly. No water got inside.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for pocket-sized thrower, the 4Sevens Turbo series may be what you are looking for. I was thoroughly impressed by the light, so impressed that it is currently my everyday carry (EDC) light. For a while now, it has served me flawlessly. I highly recommend taking a look at this light.

Monday, January 10, 2011

EDC - More Than the Tools You Carry

I know that practically all of you are familiar with the concept of EDC (Everyday Carry) and carry a number of tools on your person to prepare you for daily chores. While tools are necessary for EDC, the concept of EDC is so much more than that.

What would happen if you no longer had the tools that you normally carry every day? Would you be totally unable to deal with the jobs that await you?

A simple folding knife like the Kershaw Chill can do a lot.
If you truly are an advocate of EDC, then you shouldn't be unprepared, even if you have no tools. The reason being, EDC comprises primarily of a mindset to be prepared. It is also a mindset to be creative with what you have.

Let me explain. Most of us carry a pocket knife, but we can use that knife for more than just cutting. We can use that knife to pry, scrape, drive flathead screws, hammer (when closed), etc. Having that knife allows you to practice improvising with it. It allows you to think outside of the box to improvise in other situations.

These improvisation skills lead to a mindset of perseverance when faced with a difficulty. Likewise, if you were in a situation without any tools, and you do have an EDC mindset, you should not give up, and try to make the most with what you have to get the job done.

You don't have to improvise much when you have a CRKT Zill-Tool Jr.
EDC also requires a mindset to acknowledge reality, otherwise you would not know what to prepare for, or you would fail to acknowledge the reality that it helps to be prepared. Many people are ignorant of reality. They just do not have a desire to be prepared, to make the most out of one's situation. People who EDC should not fall into this category.


If you lack any of these mindsets, and you do not carry tools for everyday preparedness, then I would suggest you begin. Learning to think like a EDC'er is a process that comes with time and with experience. Don't waste another day. Start taking things into your own hands. If there's a problem that you repeatedly come across, carry the tools necessary to overcome it. You will be a better person because of it.