Saturday, June 14, 2014

INFORMATIVE: The Best of the Best - CumQuaT's Picks

So I often get asked about my gear, and the question that I get asked most often is this:

"What are the best, most useful pieces of equipment that you carry?"

This can turn into a loaded question amongst various preppers, but I figured I'd do up a short article which outlines the pieces of kit which I simply couldn't live without, have really been impressed with and would be the first things I'd pick up again if I had to start over.

I'll also try and get Burt to write one of these up, as I'm sure his loadout differs from mine, but here is what I've got for you:

Hazard4 Evac Plan B Sling


Barely a day goes by I don't carry my Evac Plan B with me. It's hands-down the best bag I've ever owned. Not big enough for a full on ranged mission, but for a one-day bag? Or a day-to-day carry bag? It's flawless. Its construction is rugged to the point of overkill, it can hold a surprisingly large amount for such a compact unit, and can easily be expanded via the use of its strapping system and the fact it's covered in molle webbing. Add in a pouch organization system inside and you've got one of the best bags ever constructed.

http://hazard4.com/products/packs/evac-slings/plan-b




Headsox


Headsox are one of my favourite inventions ever. When it comes down to it, the Headsox is a cylindrical tube of breathable, UV-proof, slightly elastic fabric which you can wear on your head in a variety of different ways: as a beanie, a neck warmer, a balaclava, a sweatband, a hairnet, etc. They are so simple and so versatile that you'd be crazy not to pick one up, especially given how cheap they are. Be warned: there are cheap imitations out there, which I have tried, and they are NOT the same - in fact they're useless and uncomfortable. Buy brand name on this one.

http://www.headsox.com.au/



Zippo


Everyone knows about the venerable Zippo, and there is much debate over carrying one of them over a simple Bic lighter. Personally, I carry both, as a Zippo does have the unfortunate fact of fuel evaporation. However, you can literally refill your zippo by lowering it on a bit of string into a car or truck's fuel tank. It will burn on virtually any combustible liquid and the cotton wadding on the inside can be used as a last ditch tinder. The sturdy brass construction also makes it EXTREMELY tough, and will survive being sat on, stepped on or even being run over by a truck. Try and have a Bic do that!

http://www.zippo.com/



SOG PowerAssist


I've used many different multi-tools in the past, but this one takes the cake. They're a little hard to get a hold of, but if you can get one, it's worth it. The bolt cutters alone on this thing are insanely powerful. It has a geared grip system which multiplies your grip force several times over, allowing you to cut through almost anything. The range of tools on it is impressive, despite its useless saw which comes standard, but for a few dollars you can buy a new saw and easily install it yourself, turning this into the perfect multi-tool. It's also virtually indestructible, so you can put it through Hell and it'll come out the other side in one piece.

http://www.sogknives.com/powerassist-satin.html



KABAR TDI Law Enforcement



Knives are a real point of contention for many preppers, but for me it comes down to practicality. KABAR make great knives, everyone knows that, but they're not all that easy to carry around most of the time. That's where the TDI is different. It is so unobtrusive on your person that you don't even realise it's there, but by the same token, the moment you need it, it slips into the palm of your hand like it was moulded to it. Very short blade, but it'll hold a RAZOR edge after only a little bit of work on the whetstone. A truly reliable knife all-around.

http://www.kabar.com/knives/detail/76



Jetboil Flash

Butane cooking systems are not the #1 choice for many survivalists, but when I go out on a trek, I always take my Jetboil Flash. It can boil half a litre (17 ounces) of water in well under a minute. Given that it's an all-in-one cooking system which can fit its own fuel source inside it, this thing is the Rolls Royce of cooking systems in my mind.

http://www.jetboil.com/Products/Flash-Cooking-System-Carbon/



Spool Tool


A fantastic bit of British Ingenuity, the Spool Tool will hold 100ft of Paracord and a mini Bic lighter neatly in one unit, but also provide a safe cutting blade and crimping moulds for neatening up the ends of the cordage and prevent fraying. How cool is that? It's also incredibly sturdy and designed to easily slip into a pack without taking up much room.

http://www.spooltool.us/



Hazard4 Poncho Villa 



This thing is a truly hydrophobic, full-size tactical poncho which converts into a one-man tent. I have taken it out in a tropical cyclone before and remained bone dry. It folds into its own front pocket, which is, itself, waterproof and can easily be adjusted to allow you to use one or both arms with relative ease. The only downside to this product is that unlike other Hazard4 products, it is made in Taiwan, and has a couple of shoddy features, such as the pop rivet buttons and the drawstring locks. Other than that, the rest of the materials are top-notch and I still highly recommend it.

http://hazard4.com/products/apparel/ponchovilla



5.11 ATAC Storm Boots


I've worn many different boots over the years, but these ones take the cake. They act like jungle boots, allowing no water ingress to your foot. They are hugging, comfortable and very warm, yet still manage to breathe quite well. They also air quickly once you take them off and have a soft leather pocket on either side and extremely rugged steel caps. The soles are incredibly durable and my own pair have shown NO signs of wearing yet, despite having been worn for two years, through cyclones, rainforests, bushland and rock climbing. Extremely durable, reliable boots.

http://www.511tactical.com/atac-storm-boot.html



Shemagh


One of the most useful bits of kit in a prepper's arsenal. Be sure to get a hand-woven, pure cotton one and you'll be able to use it to keep cool in summer, warm in winter, filter water, cover your face, protect your gear, shade you, disguise a drop and many other uses.

http://www.extac.com.au/Pro_Force_Shemagh_Sand_Black_p/pf61035.htm



Fenix E-21 Torch


There are many other, brighter, more feature rich torches on the market than the Fenix E-21, but the simplicity of its design is what I like about it. 2xAA batteries and you're good to go. It's waterproof, shatterproof, drop-proof and can really take a solid battering. The light on it - while not incredible - is still super bright, and it fits nicely in your hand. A fantastic and reliable torch.

http://www.fenixlight.com/ProductMore.aspx?id=47&tid=11&cid=1



Maxpedition RollyPolly 


I think these devices are so damn clever. Essentially a cleverly designed dump-pouch, it sits on your belt, taking up next to no space, but in an instant it can unhook and leave you with a large, durable pocket on your belt which you can carry extra gear in. It sort of acts like a belt-riding haversack. Really cool design, and comes in multiple sizes for different wearers/uses.

http://www.maxpedition.com/store/pc/ROLLYPOLY-MM-Folding-Dump-Pouch-p228.htm



There's a heap more gear that I love, but when it comes to the items I've particularly loved more than anything else, where I can't imagine myself using an alternative, It'd be these. I hope that this helps some people out who might be looking for one of the items in one of these categories!

And remember... Be prepared, not scared!

- CumQuaT