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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: Boker Gnome [EDC Fixed Blade Knife]

The Gnome has a good following, and it's a model that's intrigued me for some time. There's a few different variations on the Gnome, so it took me a while to decide on the wood handled version / leather sheath combination, which I ultimately purchased.

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product Link
Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product Link

Product Description


The Gnome is a small, EDC type fixed blade knife with a wharncliffe style blade. It's made from 440C steel which is a departure from the previous version, which was made with a better quality Sandvik steel. My review sample has an Olive wood handle (including red fiber liners) with a real leather sheath. Other versions have Micarta scales with a Kydex sheath. Mine also came with a leather lanyard.

Offical Specs (From Amazon)


  • 440C Stainless steel blade
  • Olive wood scales
  • Comes with leather sheath
  • Compact knife
  • Red fiber underlays
  • Blade length: 2". Overall length: 4". Weight: 2 oz.
Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 1

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 2

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 3

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 4

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 5

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 6

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Product View 7

Initial impressions


Unboxing my Gnome, it looks beautiful. The wood handle and leather sheath / lanyard look very well done. But I noticed right away that the knife didn't fit very well in the sheath. It's very loose, which makes the knife unsafe to carry, which basically makes it unusable. I almost returned it right then and there. But then I decided that I could probably fashion some type of plastic insert once I had the time.

Forgetting about the sheath for a bit, I went about testing the knife itself. The size of the handle is what I would call "one finger", meaning someone with large-ish hands like myself would have a very hard time getting a good grip on the knife. I know from Internet forums that the lanyard is considered part of the handle, and mine has a beautiful leather lanyard on it.

Build Quality


Whatever my gripes with the Gnome are, it's at least a well built product. It's well put together from good materials. While the quality of the steel is typical for a knife in this price range, everything else is top notch. I especially like the red liners, usually found on higher-end knives. The sheath is also well built.

Fit and Finish


Overall good. However, my sample has one deal breaking flaw: The knife is too loose in the sheath and will not stay on its own. Other than that, the knife itself is an excellent specimen, and I even like the attention to detail on the leather sheath. So have really mixed feelings about the Gnome. I love style and finish of this knife, but I'm disappointed that I have to find a way to fix it before it can even be safely carried.

Blade


The blade geometry of the modified wharncliffe blade is pretty much ideal for every day use. It's very small and non-threatening--not stabby looking at all. In fact, one of the Amazon reviewers remarked that this version of the Gnome looks like it came straight from The Hobbit.

The 440C steel is decent, though not as good as the steel used on previous versions of the Gnome. But it's plenty good to get the job done. The blade on my Gnome is well built, and is in my opinion the best thing about the knife.

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Blade 1 of 2

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Blade 2 of 2


Handle


My Gnome has Olive wood handles. This is another aspect of the knife that made me want to purchase it. The handle looked great in the product photos, and looks every bit as good in person. It's very well done.

However the shape of the handle is not very ideal for the shape of my hands. If you are a Hobbit, or perhaps a knife-wielding baby, then this handle might fit your hand. For everyone else, it's assumed you will be using the lanyard to complete the grip on the knife.

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Handle 1 of 2

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Handle 2 of 2


Sheath


I've already mentioned that the knife is too loose in the leather sheath. It has another major flaw, at least for right handed folks. The belt loop is on the wrong side! Or maybe it's not even supposed to be a belt loop. In which case it's probably on the correct side to hang from a chain or cord as a neck knife.

Other than those issues, I really like the look of the sheath. The craftsmanship is good: stitching, finish--it looks high class.

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Closeup of Sheath


Lanyard


My sample came with a leather lanyard. It's an important part of how the knife is designed to be used, and they didn't skimp on it. The lanyard looks high class, just like the sheath.

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Closeup of Lanyard

Usability


I wasn't able to do much testing with the loose sheath. The best I could do was carry it around the house for a little bit testing it with a few EDC type tasks like opening packages. On top of that, I just couldn't get a good grip on the knife, even using the lanyard as part of the handle. You could make the argument that the compact size makes it worth not getting a good grip on the handle, but I have a few other small fixed blades which do not have this problem.

Conclusions


The Gnome just doesn't do it for me. Even if I got a good fitting sheath, I don't like the one-finger feel of the grip. I understand that lots of people love the compact size and the feel of the lanyard as a surrogate handle, but it's not for me. The blade itself is a perfect shape for EDC, but I just can't get past the feel of the handle, not to mention the fact that mine is unsafe to carry with the extremely loose sheath.

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and this Gnome really fell flat for me. But hey, that's why there's thousands of different knives out there. It sure looks nice, though, and I could see myself someday carrying it in a more upscale environment like for an office. Once I figure out how to fix the sheath, though.

What I like best about the Gnome, and the reason I bought it, is that it's very compact and non-threatening. It looks classy and I can see why people like it, though it's not for me personally.

Gallery

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: On Scale

Boker Gnome Plus EDC Fixed Blade Knife: Next To Ruler


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gear Vendor Scorecard

In the course of doing reviews for my blog, I've had the opportunity to visit lots and lots of online gear stores. While I buy a good portion of my gear from Amazon, there are tons of items they don't sell, or don't have the best price on.

The online stores I visit are a mixture of USA and Chinese based locations. I've found shopping from China just fine as long as I follow a few good practices (like always using PayPal) and demonstrate lots of patience, as some of these orders can arrive up to 60 days after being shipped.

The scorecard below is based solely on my own personal experience. Note that I have no financial connection or affiliation with any of the shops below. Your mileage may vary!



StoreLocationGradeNotes
Battery JunctionUSAB-
HKequipmentChinaAGreat Service!
LighthoundUSAB-
GoingGearUSABLarge Selection
Illumn (formerly Illumination Supply)USAAGreat Store!
WallbuysChinaC-
GearbestChinaC--
TmartChinaBFast Shipping
Mountain ElectronicsUSADAvoid
DealExtremeChinaCLarge Selection
BuyInCoinsChinaFAvoid
FastTechChinaAGood Prices
BangGoodChinaFAvoid
LightJunctionUSAB-
SolarForceStoreChinaB-

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Spark SF5 NW [1xAA EDC Flashlight]

The Zebralight SC50 intrigued me from the day it came out. It seemed like the perfect EDC flashlight, but people were complaining that it turned on in their pockets. The consensus seemed to be that if you hadn't bought one yet, wait for the SC52 with the deeper switch. So I waited. When the SC52 was released, nobody could seem to keep them in stock, and when they did, people were complaining about horrible tint and quality control problems. I just kept putting it off and hesitating. And then Spark came out with the SF5, and I purchased the NW (neutral white) version. The early reviews said that this was the light that the SC52 should have been, so I eagerly awaited it to arrive from the slow boat from China. I ordered it from Wallbuys.

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Shown With Victorinox Executive, Spyderco Delica and RayBan Wayfarers
From Left: Jetbeam BA10, Thrunite T10S, Spark SF5, EagleTac D25A Ti, Olight S15 Ti, Fenix E12, L3 L10-219, Thrunite T10
From Left: Jetbeam BA10, Thrunite T10S, Spark SF5, EagleTac D25A Ti, Olight S15 Ti, Fenix E12, L3 L10-219, Thrunite T10

Product Description


This is a 1xAA flashlight with a neutral white version of the latest Cree XM-L2 LED emitter in it. Clearly modeled after Zebralight's SC52 series, it features a compact design with a recessed electronic switch. Spark adds its own touches with a carbon fiber ring and two reflectors, one being a non-reflective "mule" type. This light seems be aimed squarely at the flashlight enthusiast crowd; the so-called flashaholics.

Official Specs (From hkequipment.net)

  • Cree XM-L2 T5 Neutral White LED
  • Premium aluminum alloy machined and Carbon Fiber Sleeve with hard anodized finishing
  • 5 Modes operation with last mode memory:
  • Super 260lumens-0.9hr, Max 100lumens-2.8hrs
  • Med2 30lumens-9hrs, Med1 6lumens-32hrs, Low 1lumens-10days
  • Powered by 1x AA or 14500 battery
  • Working range 1.6v - 4.2v
  • Reverse polarity protection circuit
  • Electrically conductive aluminum body provides EMI/RFI shielding
  • Impact resistance SCHOTT ultra clear lens with 98% transparency
  • IPX-8 waterproof
  • Covertible Flood / Throw reflector kit
  • Size 90mm x 24mm
  • Weight 50g
Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Product View 1

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Product View 2

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Product View 3
Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Product View 4

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Product View 5

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight Shown With Spark SF3

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Tail Cap SpringSpark SF5 1xAA Flashlight With Tail Cap Removed

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Tail CapSpark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Logo

First Impressions


I received the SF5 a couple days after the SF3, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Unboxing it and putting a 14500 cell in it, I was completely unprepared for the beautiful warm tint my sample had. It's probably inevitable that all flashlight collectors eventually focus on neutral and warm tints. If you use flashlights a lot, the warmer tints are much more pleasing to the eyes, and also much easier to distinguish different colors in the dark.

The tint on my sample is even warmer than the lights I have with a Nichia 219 in them. In fact, the SF5 NW is now the warmest tint light I own. And from reading posts on other sites, it seems like I am not alone in getting a sample with a tint this warm. If you are specifically looking for a neutral white tint, this model may not be for you.

The second thing I noticed is that unlike the SF3 with the too-high turbo mode that gives batteries grief, the SF5 seems to be tuned much better for turbo than its sibling the SF3.

Electronic Switch


This model features a recessed electronic switch, so it does not have any kind of mechanical action you would find on a "clicky" switch. This type of switch is potentially much more durable, but it comes with a small downside. These types of electronic switches constantly draw a little bit of power to be able to sense you pressing the switch. This is called a "parasitic drain" and is negligible on this model. But it is a deal breaker for some folks, so I'm mentioning it.

The feel of the switches of both my SF3 and SF5 are superb. The design of the recess and the feel of the switch together make using these lights a very ergonomic experience. I was never really into electronic switches before I got these two. I'm now a big fan of the way Spark did it.

One of the gripes I've always had with electronic switch lights is that some of them are hard to find the switch by feel in the dark. What I've done with my SF3 and SF5 is rotate the clip to the opposite side of the switch. Now in the dark I can miss it, and it's as intuitive as a clicky switch.

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Electronic Switch 1Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Electronic Switch 2



Modes


Just like the SF3, the SF5 has 5 modes: Moonlight, Low, Medium, High and Turbo. Curiously there are no hidden strobe or beacon modes. I don't really miss them, but I don't mind having them as long as they are tucked out of the way. Spark kept it simple and just excluded these special modes.

User Interface


Spark has come up with an interesting user interface for this series, which seems to borrow heavily from the Olight S series. A quick click turns the light on and off. Holding the button down cycles through the 4 modes. A quick double-click toggles the light between turbo and the last mode it was in.

The SF5 has mode memory just like the SF3. Holding the switch down with the light in any mode but moonlight will cycle it to that mode, and holding the switch down in moonlight will make it cycle the modes normally. It sounds complicated but it's actually intuitive.

Build Quality


This series is well built. From the quality of materials to the superb machining, Spark really knows what it's doing. It's above and beyond what I would normally consider good quality. It's almost like they are just showing off with the carbon fiber band, the steel bezel around the switch, the swap-able reflectors, the good quality snap-on clip, and so on. I'm starting to sound like a fan boy.

Fit and Finish


Overall, good. As with most products I review, just a couple minor imperfections can lower my overall impression of a review sample. This sample has some noticeable imperfections all the way around the carbon fiber ring and a few nicks on the body.

I'm also not a fan of the tail cap threads. They are a little better on my SF5 than my SF3, but they still make it a little bit awkward to screw on the tail cap. Not really a major gripe though.

But even with a couple minor gripes, it still hits the mark where it counts. The emitter is perfectly centered, which is a pet peeve of mine. The switch is mounted perfectly in the little steel bezel, and the carbon fiber band overall looks gorgeous.

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Closeup Of Threads


Clip


The SF5 features a snap-on type clip. It only comes up about a half inch to the tail, so I wouldn't call it a 'deep carry' clip, but it's deep-carry-ish. The quality of the clip is good, and it's nice and rigid. It carries well in my pocket and if anything, it's a little too tight, which is rare for this type of clip. Usually the snap-on type clips are way too loose. I didn't use to be a fan of this type of clip, but I like when it's done right.

Tail Stand


The light will tail stand if you are careful. The way the tail cap is designed only gives a small area for the light to stand, so it is a bit awkward. I'm not even sure I understand the design. They could have made the unit a
tiny big longer and given it a stable tail stand. But it's acceptable.

AA Battery Support


The circuit on the SF5 seems to be optimized for standard rechargeable Eneloop AA NiMH cells. 

Lithium-ion 14500 Support


The SF5 will take all button top 14500 cells that I have tested. It does not like the flat top cells, probably because of its reverse polarity protection.

Operation with a 14500 is perfect as far as I can tell. So many manufacturers cheap out and make a light that doesn't get its full functionality on a 14500, but this one does. As you can probably guess, all the modes will be brighter with a li-ion cell. Moonlight is a little brighter and turbo is much brighter. In fact, there's not much difference between high and turbo with a regular AA, but it's a noticeable difference with the 14500.

PWM


I could find no trace of PWM using the cell phone camera test. Looks like every mode is constant current. Nice. Some manufacturers use high frequency PWM to achieve a better tint but here's a model with perfect tint and a constant current circuit.

Tail Cap Readings


All readings in Amps. I measured the standby "parasitic drain" current at .0002 amps.


ModeEneloop AAOlight 14500
Moonlight.01.005
Low.05.02
Medium.20.09
High2.13.28
Turbo2.25.71

Tailcap Lockout


If you intend to store this flashlight for an extended period of time, or you just don't like the idea of the small amount of standby current when the unit is off, you can twist the tail cap about 1/8th of a turn counter-clockwise and it will power the unit off.

Beam


Spark SF5 1xAA Flashligh: Textured Reflector
Spark SF5 1xAA Flashligh: Mule Reflector



OP Reflector: My SF5 has a nice, smooth, floody beam, due to its textured "orange peel" reflector. Just looking at the light, I would think that it would have a tighter hot spot, but looking closer I can see that the reflector is more shallow than it looks, which explains the floody-ness. But for an EDC it's pretty much ideal. If you want to see across a big field on your farm, you will want a light with more throw.

Mule Reflector: This type of reflector is more of a housing than a reflector. With the Mule on, the light becomes pure flood with no beam to speak of. Some people prefer this style of light, and it does have some benefits for example using the light as a lantern.

Beam shots taken at ISO 100 f/5.6 1/15th second with AWB = Daylight
Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Animated Modes



Tint


The tint on my SF5 NW is noticeably warmer than any other light I own!  I can tell that Spark really has its ear to the ground and is definitely giving enthusiasts what they want. The Cree XM-L2 emitter isn't exactly known for having the best tint, so I'm curious how they got something this warm from Cree.

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Tint Comparison
Tint Comparison, From Left: Spark SF3, Olight S15 Ti, Thrunite T10S, L3 L10-219, Spark SF5


Usability


This is a very usable model. It carries well in my pocket and it's intuitive to pull out and find/engage the switch, unlike other electronic switch models where I fumble for the switch. I would have preferred a shortcut to low, but the double-click to turbo gets used quite a bit. My SF3 likes to cut out on turbo sometimes, even with the most expensive batteries. The SF5 has a much better (but less powerful) turbo mode. I can put it into turbo and use the light for 5-10 minutes without worrying about it.

The SF3 and SF5 have already become my most-used flashlights.

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Hand 1

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Hand 2


Conclusions


The SF5 is a superb model. I am glad I put off buying the Zebralight SC52 NW model. People were saying the NW model had a green-ish tint, where my SF5 has a phenomenal tint. I couldn't imagine Zebralight's version being any better than this, and I am glad I held out for the SF5. It's a little bigger than the Zebralight but that's OK.

Most of the time when I buy something, I'm hoping that it's as good as I expect it to be. This is one of those rare models that exceeds my expectations. Since the day I got them, the SF3 and SF5 have never been far from my side. And with my collection of flashlights, that's a bold statement.


Gallery


Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Box 1

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Box 2

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Box 4Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Box 3Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: In Box 5



Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Unboxed 1

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Unboxed 2

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Felt Pouch 1

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Felt Pouch 2
The felt bag on mine came filthy

Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Next To Ruler
Spark SF5 1xAA Flashlight: Next To SF3 and EagleTac 16340 Li-Ion Cell
BFFs




Sunday, July 13, 2014

My 72 Hour Disaster Bag AKA "Bugout Bag"

People use many names to describe this type of bag. Some call it a "bugout" or "shtf" or "72 hour" bag. It
goes by lots of names but the bag is the same: everything you need to survive for several days, and I do mean everything. I usually call it a "disaster bag" myself.

There's some obvious basics that should be in every kit like food and water, flashlight, knife, and so on. I have friends and family who have taught me about these types of bags, and I have given great thought to mine as I have slowly put it together over about the last year and a half.

Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking BackpackBelow I am going to divide the contents of my bag into different, hopefully obvious categories. In my mind, I try to think of it like a mini home. Most of it I got from Amazon because I'm addicted to Prime 2 day shipping, but I also wanted to keep it as off-the-shelf as possible. It also needed to stay on a budget, which is why a few of the items came from places like Walmart and even sellers in China for a couple of the high end flashlights and headlamp you can't get here in the USA. I put the gear first, and have tested and evaluated just about every bit of it.

Backpack



First off, I'm no expert in hiking type backpacks. However, the requirements are straightforward. It has to be as light as possible, as durable as possible and keep your stuff as dry as possible. The rest (at least to me) is all fluff.

Weight: My requirements for a bag were obviously first and foremost the weight, and this one seems like it's a good compromise between weight and price. A $200 or $300 backpack was out of the question for me, but your mileage may vary.

Durability: This one looked durable in the pictures and got good reviews, and after owning it a while I can see why. It's well made and that's very important to me. When life has gone so wrong that you are living out of a backpack, it's one of the things that can't fail.

Waterproof: Most the hiking type backpacks in this class do what they can to keep your gear dry. Not all of them come with a built-in rain fly, and that was one of my requirements. 

Sizing: It's much easier and more comfortable to carry a backpack that fits your body size and frame. Some backpacks like mine would be too big for a small-framed person like my wife to carry any distance. She has a smaller pack.

My bag has been camping a few times just to have in case something goes wrong and I need any number of things for it, such as the first aid kit. So far this bag performs well on the road. I have not hiked long distances with it, but I like the feel so far. Overall I have been very happy with this bag, even though I always seem to be fighting with the zippers.

Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking Backpack With Solar Panel: Front View

Teton Explorer 4000 Hiking Backpack With Solar Panel: Side View


Food & Water


2 2400 Calorie Food Bars
2 Packets Dry Chicken Noodle Soup
5 1 liter bottles of store-bought water (rotated monthly)
Sawyer Mini Water Filter

2 Mini Water Kits
  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • 1.5 Square Feet Aluminum Foil
  • 6 Water Purification Tablets
  • Coffee Filter
This is one of the most important aspects of the kit but probably the least exciting. My bag has some water but ultimately relies on being able to boil, treat or filter it. There's an emergency water container in one of the water kits, as well as a bunch of 1 gallon ziploc bags which could be re-purposed to carry water, as well as the 1 liter stainless steel bottle.

ERBar 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Bars

ERBar 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Bars 2
Sawyer Mini Water Filter
Water Filter / Treatment Kit with Purification Tablets and Sawyer Water Filter

Water Filter / Treatment Kit with Purification Tablets and Sawyer Water Filter 2
Chicken Noodle Dry Soup For Emergency Bag
Just like Grandma used to make?


Kitchen / Fire


Esbit Cook Set (With Goodies)
  • 4 solid fuel pellets
  • 8 small candles ("tea lights")
  • 2 packs of regular matches
  • 1 pack of waterproof matches
  • 1 disposable Bic lighter
  • 2 fuel gel packs
  • 1 army surplus Hexamine solid fuel bar
  • 2 P-38 army surplus can openers
  • 4 ounces of alcohol stored in the burner
  • 1 pack of 10 tinder
  • Ziploc bag with a couple paper towels and some tin foil

1 Liter Stainless Steel Bottle
1 Aluminum Spork
1 Quart Denatured Alcohol
Cooking Kit with Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Stainless steel bottle can be used to boil water if needed

Esbit Trekker Cooking Kit
This is a good little cooking kit

Denatured Alcohol for Brass Stove



Boiling Some Water with My Esbit Cooking Kit

Brass Alcohol Stove for Esbit Cooking SetEsbit Cooking Kit Packed with Extras 2Esbit Cooking Kit Packed with Extras 2

Shelter


Ozark Trail Hiking Tent (seam sealed)
8 x 6 Foot Tarp
100 Feet Rothco Paracord
100 Feet Mason's Line
60 Feet Generic Nylon Cord
Emergency Bivvy
2 Small Bungee Cords

Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 1 of 4
This tent is one of the few items in my bag that I bought from Wal-Mart. The reviews looked great so I bought it.

Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 2 of 4
Without the stakes and guy lines, it looks about half the size it really is

Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 3 of 4
I sealed the tent in several sessions over a few days. At the end of the world, I'll be dry!

Ozark Trail Hiking Tent 4 of 4
I read in one of the reviews that the tent compresses to the size of a football, and it's the truth

6 by 8 Foot Tarp for Emergency Bag
A tarp is a good backup shelter or to augment the tent in case it leaks. I can also be used as a footprint for the tent

Lots of Nylon Cord and Twine for Emergency Bag
With all the nylon cord and mason line for guy lines, I've got the rope/cord covered I think


Home 


2 Bars Hotel Soap
1 Roll Electrical Tape
2 Mini Rolls Duct Tape
1 Emergency Fishing Kit
1 Pair Shoelaces
1 Pair Reading Glasses (2.0 strength) in Oakley Pouch
4 Painters Masks
12 Expandable Camp Towels
1 Light Stick
3 Travel Packs Kleenex
4 Mylar Emergency Blankets
4 32 Pack Diamond Wood Matches
4 Hotties Hand Warmers
1 Tall Kitchen Trash Bag
1 Extra Gallon Freezer Bag
2 Oz. Ground Coffee
25 Foot Cheap Nylon Cord
25 Foot Nylon Twine
Plastic Whistle
Aluminum Whistle
4 small candles ("tea lights")
1 Bandanna
1 plastic orange safety flag/marker
Cheap Firesteel with Striker

Home is where your camp towel is. This eclectic mix below started by combining some of my sister's survival kits until it took on a life of its own, and I adjusted the contents over time based on what I think my needs are.

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 1 of 5

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 2 of 5
Above you can see one of my sister's mini-kits. She puts a lot of time and effort into her kits

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 3 of 5

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 4 of 5

Misc Items for Emergency Bag 5 of 5

Emergency Sewing Kit
I took out the smaller sewing kits and upgraded to a fancier one

PackTowl Camp Towel


Writing


1 Notepad
1 Large Marker
1 Sharpie Marker
1 Disposable Bic Pen

Apparel

Mesh "Stuff Sack"
4 Emergency Rain Ponchos
1 Pair Fabric Gloves
1 Pair Haynes Crew Socks
1 Pair Nectar Sunglasses
Old Man Sun Hat

Mesh Bag for Emergency Apparel Kit
Emergency Apparel Kit
Lightweight Sunglasses for Emergency Apparel Kit

Mora Light My Fire Knife
Victorinox Explorer Multi-Tool
IDL T7 Multi-Tool
4 Generic Carabiners
2 Nite-ize Carabiners

As a knife and multi-tool collector, I have put a lot of thought into my tools for the bag. The machete is a little heavy but it splits wood better than other models and also makes a better self-defense tool. And what can I say about the Moras other than they are legendary. I have much more expensive (and heavy) bushcraft type knives like my Tops BOB knife, but I can't say definitively that any of them are superior to the 20 dollar Mora, so I just put the Mora in there.

For the multi-tools, I decided to mix it up and make the kit a little lighter, but it was tempting to throw my Leatherman Wingman in there instead. I think the Explorer is going to be a little lighter and more functional.

Tools For Emergency Bag: Ka-Bar Kukri, Mora Light My Fire, Victorinox Explorer and More
I've tried to go with robust, field-proven tools

Mora Light My Fire for Emergency Bag
It's hard to find a survival knife with a better reputation or more hours in the field than this Mora
IDL Multi-Tool for Emergency Bag
It was a bold choice going with this tool and a Victorinox instead of a Leatherman, which saved a little weight

Ka-Bar Kukri in Action for Emergency Bag
This Ka-Bar Kukri is a machete, axe, shovel, pry-bar and can take out zombies in a pinch

Victorinox Explorer Glamour Shot 1
The Explorer is well made and lighter than a Leatherman

Victorinox Explorer Glamour Shot 2
Victorinox is the gold standard for utility knives

L3 Illuminations L10 1xAA Flashlight (clipped to bag)
Crelant CH-10 2xCR123A Headlamp
Olight I3S 1xAAA flashlight (clipped to bag)
EagleTac D25LC2 1x18650 Flashlight (clipped to bag)
2 Pack USB Night Light Widgets
2 Diffuser Wands

For flashlights I have purposely chosen models with high efficiency circuits. You may not care about squeezing a couple extra hours of light out of a battery around the house, but in an emergency those couple extra hours of light could save your life.

And yeah, I know that my bag is overkill with the flashlights. But hey, I'm a collector with old eyes. We spend half our lives in the dark.

Flashlights, Headlamp, Batteries and USB Charger for Emergency Bag
I've tried for a mixture of long shelf-life and rechargeable batteries

Crelant CH10 Head Lamp for Emergency Bag 1

Crelant CH10 Head Lamp for Emergency Bag 2
A headlamp is a must for every bugout bag, and this Crelant CH10 is light, well-made, powerful and efficient
EagleTac D25LC2 Flashlight for Emergency Bag 1
One the smallest 18650 lithium-ion flashlights and the superb quality EagleTac is known for

Olight I3S AAA Flashlight Clipped on Ball Cap
The tiny, efficient and functional Olight I3S takes a common AAA battery and can go 30 hours on medium

L3 Illuminations L10 1xAA Flashlight, with Nichia 219 and Cree XP-G2 LED Emitters
Ultra -compact, ultra-efficient, and takes a standard AA battery

Fenix E12 1xAA Flashlight for Emergency Bag
A backup to the L10, Fenix is well known for their quality and efficient circuitry
USB Night Light Widgets
I just picked up these USB night light widget thingys. They weigh practically nothing!

EagleTac D25LC2 Flashlight for Emergency Bag 2
With the diffuser, the EagleTac D25C2 is a superb lantern


Miller USB Power Pack / Charger with USB Night Light Widget
These USB night light widgets turn any USB power pack into a nightlight / lamp


Battery/Device Chargers


Levin Sol-Wing 13 Watt Solar USB Charger

Originally I was just going to use long-storage primary batteries, but in the couple years I've been building this bag, solar technology has gotten much better. Newer panels are a fraction of the weight, much more powerful and durable compared to older generations.

With this setup, I can pretty much run my devices indefinitely. The 72-hour bag is obviously intended to keep you alive for just a few days, but I very much doubt that disasters are going to run on schedule. So where I can, I've made this into a "live off the grid" bag.

Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 1 of 3

Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 2 of 3
This solar panel is flexible and durable, and can charge most Android devices as fast as a wall charger

Levin Sol-Wing Solar Panel 3 of 3
Unlimited power in an emergency!

WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 1 of 3
The WakaWaka also adds another lantern that can give 2 hours of light for every 1 hour of sun

WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 2 of 3
The WakaWaka Power makes a good backup to the Levin solar panel

WakaWaka Solar USB Charger and Lantern 3 of 3
The WakaWaka is also designed to ride on a backpack and charge while you are on the go
Miller Charger / Power Pack
The Miller charger on the bottom is both a charger and a power pack. Here it is charging my phone at about an amp


Batteries


4 AA Lithium Batteries (10 year shelf life)
8 CR123A Lithium Batteries (10 year shelf life)
4 AA Eneloop Pro NiMH Rechargeable Batteries
2 AA  Eneloop NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (inside flashlights)
1 10,000 mAh USB battery pack and charger
8 AAA Eneloop NiMH Rechargeable Batteries (inside walkie talikies)

My bag has a mixture of primary batteries with a long shelf life, and batteries that can be charged from my solar panels. The lithium primary batteries are superior to alkaline, which are affected by temperature variations and almost always leak over time, destroying your devices. This is why I tell people never to use them for long term storage in a device, ever. Seriously, don't use them.

For rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, I've always been a fan of the Sanyo Eneloop batteries, now owned by Panasonic. The newer ones I believe store 90% of their charge for a year and can be recharged over 2,000 times. Coupled with the cheap USB charger, I can charge my AA and AAA batteries from any USB device, including my solar panels and power packs--the same ones I use to charge my phone and tablet.


Other Electronics


2 Audiovox Walkie Talkies

These walkie talkies are probably 12 years old but I don't think much has changed in that time. And even if I don't use them, the charged Eneloop AAA batteries in them will run my little Olight I3S on medium for something like 100 days straight. Not bad for a last-ditch backup.


Medical


My first aid kit it is homemade and contained in a men's toiletry bag. I found this bag a couple years ago, traveled with it and thought that it would make a good first aid kit bag, so I bought another one. I've been steadily filling it over time. Sometimes I'll be in a store and I'll see something that looks like it would belong in my bag, and so it steadily grows. It's a work in progress.

EMT Shears
1 tube super glue
1 tube hydro-cortisone cream
2 Disposable Scalpels
2 Pair pointed stainless steel tweezers
1 bottle Advil x25
1 blister pack Benedryl x25
1 tube triple antibiotic ointment
Large assortment of band-aids.
Medical tape
8 Gauze squares, individually wrapped
4 Gauze sponges, individually wrapped
1 cardboard thermometer
1 battery powered thermometer
1 Zantac antacid tablet
2 Extra LR41 batteries for thermometer
2 Hard candies (for low blood sugar)
1 Tube Blistex
1 Small Pack Q-Tips
1 Travel size pack of Kleenex
8 Packs Alcohol Wipes
1 Packet Burn Cream
2 No-Doz
2 Tylenol
2 Pseudafed
1 Ace bandage
1 Small Roll Gauze Tape
1 Extra Pair Reading Glasses (2.0 strength)
2 Small Sterile Pads
1 Extra Bic Lighter
5 Pair Surgical Gloves

First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 1 of 4
This toiletry bag is well made and lightweight

First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 2 of 4

First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 4 of 4

First Aid Kit for Emergency Bag: 4 of 4



Self Defense



The primary self defense tool for my build is going to be the machete. The Kukri design has traditionally used for combat, but it also makes a great machete. I've always said that I'm not a big fan of knives for self defense, but if I'm living out of a small bag, I might want that option. Also, a machete can't jam, or run out of ammo. 

But what's a machete going to do against a bear? Or an armed attacker? Or multiple attackers? Since my kit does not have a firearm, I have the next best thing. OC pepper spray--a large can. Whether it's a Moose or a guy named Moose, pepper spray will hopefully give me enough time to get to safety while they are hopefully re-evaluating their interest in hassling me. But like a firearm, it can fail or be turned against me.

Misc


Aluminum Whistle
Lambda Lights Nano Marker Light

"Fix it kit"

  • 22" duct tape
  • 2 cable ties
  • nylon shoelace 60 inch
  • 1 cord lock
  • 4 twist ties
  • 3 safety pins
  • 2 paper clips
  • 3 rubber bands
  • 1 bobby pin
  • 1 mini sewing kit (needle, thread, buttons, safety pin)
Another little fix-it kit
  • 4 rubber bands
  • 3 safety pins
  • 4 paper clips
  • 2 twist ties
  • 1 tube super glue
  • 1 small pencil
  • 20 sheets of post-it note pad
Sewing Kit, Pepper Spray and Glovebox Survival Kit for Emergency Bag
My sister's "glovebox survival kit" is its own emergency kit with all manner of useful stuff
Glovebox Survival Kit Contents for Emergency Bag
It duplicates some valuable items I already have in my bag, and adds a few new ones like compass and pocket knife
Lambda Nano Marker Lights for Emergency Bag
Sadly these Lambda Nano lights aren't being made anymore