Showing posts with label Survival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Survival. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Make Some Sparks

Every once and a while a blind hog finds an acorn, so they say… 
Tortoise Gear has one product and frankly while it’s useful, but not a world beater. But I think they just found an acorn.

Currently they make several size collapsible water containers from a clear polymer.  It appears the backside is reflective which improves the performance.  It’s a survival tool.  Fill the container with clear water from a lake or stream and exposed it to lots of sunlight.  Between the UV, visible and IR components of sunlight, 6 hours of exposure on a 50% cloudy day is enough to pasteurize the water and make it safe to drink.  (That’s their claim.)

I heard about this several years ago, people in the Mideast and parts of Africa were using coke bottles in a similar way:  Fill ‘em with water and leave ‘em lay on the roof for 2 days and you get biologically safe water to drink.


The acorn Tortoise Gear found is the realization that just about every Swiss Army knife has room from a fire starting ferro stick.  Just decide if you need the tweezers or the toothpick more.  The replacement part slips into the vacated compartment.  Of course the knife has plenty of edges to scrape the stick to generate sparks.

They’re in fund raising and have met their goal.  Hell, I even threw a little money at them.  I’s rather have a fire steel than a toothpick. 

If I have a blade I can made a toothpick.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The Ka-Bar TDI self defense knife made a big splash when it arrived on the scene.  Designed by John Benner to help LEOs cut themselves free should they or their gun be grabbed, it was a big hit with the civilian population as well. 

TDI Knife
The original plain edge TDI self -defense knife  quite a little chamer!

It was designed to be held with the wrist in the neutral position to provide strong, powerful stabbing as well as strong, supported slashing.

The downside, such as it is, the small 2.5 inch blade.  While the TDI knife can be used for opening letters and shaving tinder and fir sticks, but the angled shape prevents it from functioning as an effective pry bar.  Admit it.  Prying things apart is the most common non-cutting function we subject a knife to.

Ka-bars TDI Hinderance
Nice lines, deep finger grooves for grip and a great friction surface for your thumb

Rick Hinderer brings his experience as a fire fighter and EMT to this collaboration with John Benner.  The 3.5 inch blade is described as a modified tanto, but I consider it a wharncliffe blade.  Lets go head-to-head.

Benner TDI
1095 Cro-Van
Blade length
2.25 inches
3.5 inches
Overall length
5.5 inches
7.25 inches
Blade Type
Plain or full serrated
Blade thickness
0.12 inch
0.19 inch

I don’t like giving prices.  You can always find someone selling it for less.

Note the thumb release in upper right edge of sheath

The Hinderance is a heaver, thicker knife with lower Rockwell hardness as suits a pry bar application.  The 1095 Cro-Van steel appears to an upgraded 1095 steel.  A little chromium and vanadium is added to improve strength and edge cutting power.  I’d still wipe it down with oil every once in a while.  I can’t tell you about cutting, as the Hinderance isn’t mine, but it’s made by Ka-Bar so I’m sure it cuts just fine.

The original TDI knife could be drawn from the sheath as either saber or reverse grip because the knife was locked into its sheath by the shape of the knife.  The Hinderance (clever use of Rick’s name) requires a latch to be depressed.  This requires a saber or hammer grip.

Ka-Bar's TDI Hinderance
TDI's logo on one side and Ricks's on the other
I really like the neutral wrist position of the Benner TDI.  Despite the slight curve of the Hinderance I have to cock my wrist to bring the blade parallel to the ground for stabbing.

The Hinderance is well designed and I like the massive thumb friction ridge just ahead of the handle, but despite the smaller size I think the Benner TDI has advantages over the Hinderance.
That doesn’t mean I won’t end up with a Hinderance.  I find its shape exciting and the blade lines attractive.

Columbia River Knife and Tool turned 20 this year.  They have produced interesting knives that tend to be over-engineered.  Frankly that’s a good thing as it makes for a more durable knife.  Their M16 folders have been copied by many companies as well as a target for knock-offs.  While not every design is a home run, they are batting better than .600. 

In addition to knives they make axes, backpacking spoons, multi-tools, sharpening systems and survival tools.  I recently bought from them a paracord survival bracelet charm. 

Compass and firestarter
the little nubben on the bottom of the plastic housing pulls out and gives you a firestarter
The theory is most paracord bracelets give you at least 6 feet of paracord containing 7 strands.  So why not add a compass and mini-light or fire starter to that?

I am not convinced.  I remember wristband compasses that would become de-magnetized or attracted to the metal case of some watches.  Still I’m a sucker for these gadgets so I bought the compass/firestarter combination for my paracord bracelet. 

The housing slips over the bracelet and is locked in place with a little plastic screw.  This didn’t work too well for me, but as long as I have the bracelet on, it’s not going anywhere.  The fire starter has a 1 inch ferrocium rod and two little metal surfaces you can use to make a spark.  I’m not impressed, I had trouble getting nice fat sparks, but I’m not Bear Grylls either.  I need to practice.

The compass seems to be holding up and I’ll give it a trial next month out in the woods.  I’m also going to put a small stretch of duct tape around the ferrocium rod to make sure it doesn’t fall out.

Survival kits are popular.  Catalogs sell them and claim their kit is what the US Foreign Corp issues to overseas personnel or carried by the SEALs.  I don’t think that one I need in Africa or Central America is the one I need going to work.  My best survival kit could well be a credit card and 50 bucks in fives and tens. 

But I will say, if you’re going carry one I think you should design it for your applications. Breachbangclear is running a series on survival kits.  Ignore Redhead Fridays and Cheekweld Wednesdays if you want , but read the series.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Fist Full of Cord

fist full of paracord survival bracelets
Can one of these spell the difference between coming home after an unplanned outdoor activity or being found a year later by someone's dog?

It’s hard to think of survival gear and not think of a knife.  No matter if we are thinking of late night in a dead-end-alley survival or where-the-hell-are-we lost, one of the tools we would like is a knife.

Certainly there are other items we might want.  It's way too easy to compile a most wanted list: handgun, compass, matches/flint, ‘space’ blanket, button light, cell phone, warm clothes, water, food.  The list seems endless.  Even intrepid TV survival experts would not survive for long in most environments without some equipment.

It is with some curiosity I see paracord survival bracelets 
being hawked at gun shows, websites and worn about town.  In agreement with my policy on true transparency I’ve got to say, I make ‘em, too.  I wear them as well.  It’s sort of a fashion statement that the wearer is committed to staying alive and has the rope to prove it.

Let’s take a look at this.

I put long brightly colored lanyards on tools like Leatherman, axes and some fixed blade knives.  To me that makes a certain amount of sense.  

Orange and green paracord lanyard on pocket tool
Yeah, the tool is purple, because the diamond file only came in purple handles.  Still, put your thumb over the tool and see if you can find it.  I bet you can.

I drop something in the snow, mud, leaves or just put it down next to me and the cord helps me locate it.  In a water environment I could undo the cord and re-use it to tie the tool to my belt.  Any survival tool you lose when you use it has limited value.

A lanyard loop assures the knife will hang from my wrist when I need my fingers and will give me that little bit of extra security when I’m holding something by the very end to get a little more leverage out of it.

Lanyards, like the bracelets, also contain useable cord just in case.  In case of what you should ask?

My bracelets use about 6 feet of cord.  Much of it isn’t the classic 550paracord  containing 7 small lines with a breaking strength of 78 pounds each. (The kermantal adds to the strength too.)  Frankly, I think that breaking strength is urban legend.  Much of it looks like paracord but is filled with a one irregular, fluffy mass of fibers.  There’s no reason not to use this material if you just want to look cool or need a clothesline.  Just know what you have.

With 6 feet you could make a snare.  With your knife you could use a foot here and a foot there to secure the ends of an impromptu shelter.  Of course you could use it to tie someone’s hands and feet if you had to, but they better be unconscious while you unweave your bracelet. 

You could cut off about 3 feet and pull the inner core strings.  With 550 cord you would have 7 three foot long strings to tie into fishing line or to sew with if you have a stout needle or sharp thorn.  I’m not sure what you could use the kermantal for.  If you went with 750 cord, you’d have 11 strands! 

Using the entire cord you could tie several large branches together to make personal floatation aid or you could make a fire bow.  That’s a good tool to warm yourself twice with the same wood, once starting the fire and the second time burning the wood.

Still six feet isn’t a lot of cord.  So if you were to make/buy a belt 40 inches long you might have 24ft.  You’re not going to climb down much of anything with that unless you leave it behind.  A big log raft would still be out of the question, but you could make several personal rafts with more buoyancy.

What you need to remember is all knots degrade the strength of rope as does exposure to sun, moisture, dirt, and salt.  And what is a paracord bracelet, but knotted rope exposed to salty perspiration, water, sun, soap, dirt and other chemicals?  Maybe a survival bracelet isn’t the answer.

If you’re heading off the pavement pack a coil of 50
feet of 550 paracord

50 feet of paracord
The bright metal strip is a 6 inch ruler in front of 50 odd feet.  You can rebundle 50 feet of cord in any shape you want.  Long to fit in your game or forager pocket, a ball to fill that empty spot in your day pack.  You could even run it back and forth like a yoke to fit in your jacket.
along with your knife, compass, handgun, and other accoutrements. The right tool for the job is always easier than makin’ do.

And take your survival bracelet.  I once used half of mine to replace a broken shoe lace.