Kershaw Needs Work knife without issue. However, when I packed up and moved, I put the knife in my bag and forgot it was there. Since I was carrying my Spyderco, I took that to work instead. Well, that knife is sharp. I'm here to tell ya. However, if I had a pair of pliers on me instead of the knife, things might have worked out differently for my hand.
This is where the multi tool comes in. I've owned a few different types, and while they are all good tools in their own right, they aren't suitable for professional use. What I really need is something that can lock each tool up and is a little bigger and tougher than say the Wingman, which is a good tool itself, but is sort of cheesy for the kind of work I do. Tools get used hard in a work setting. Dare I say they also get somewhat abused? Hey, when you do generator field service for a living, you sometimes have to improvise and you don't have all the convenience of a shop environment with every tool necessary to perform your job. If I could, I'd have to drive a tractor trailer to work everyday because that's what it would take to fit all those tools inside!
Leatherman Super Tool 300 in black. For what I do, it is ideal. It is big. Weighing in at 9.6 ounces, it's not exactly lightweight. Measuring 4.5" closed, it's not exactly small either. That's okay though because it rides on the outside of my belt when I'm working. The long handle allows me to really grip it and work the pliers and cutters if need be. You can also see a knife on the tool, which in my opinion is the wrong direction, but it's a secondary tool anyway. I don't use it often. Ever since I found my Needs Work knife, I've used the knife on this ST300 even less.
In actuality, the tools I find myself using the most are the little flat blade screw drivers. The small one on the left side is small enough to turn pots (potentiometers) on control boards without damaging them. The larger ones are suited to bigger tasks, obviously. The tip of the needle nose pliers are precise. I pulled a metal shaving out of my hand with it. The regular pliers are ideally suited for a lot of different tasks and I've been able to use it to hold nuts on the back side of panels while turning bolts with my wrench. I like the removable blades for the wire cutters. That was such a good idea.
The screws that hold all the tools together are proprietary. It seems Leatherman doesn't want you to tighten or loosen them. That's a shame because the tools on the right handle seem to be a bit loose for my taste, and the knife does wiggle a little bit. The locking mechanism, however, holds the tools firm despite the fact that they wiggle a bit. Overall, I give this setup 4 out of 5 stars. I'd give it 5 stars if not for the wiggling tools and the blade location.
While we are talking about tools, let's see what you get with the Super Tool 300.
1. Needle nose pliers
2. Regular pliers
3. 154CM Removable wire cutters
4. 154CM Removable hard wire cutters
5. Stranded wire cutters
6. Electrical crimper (it actually works)
7. 420HC Knife
8. 420HC Serrated knife (I love that it is a separate blade)
9. Wood/Metal file
12. Medium Screwdriver
13. Large Screwdriver
14. Phillips Screwdriver (and it's not one of those flat kind either!)
15. Awl with Thread Loop
16. Ruler (9 inches/22 cm)
17. Bottle Opener
18. Can Opener
19. Wire Stripper
I appreciate that Leatherman does not count the lanyard ring as a tool just to get their tool count up. So this has 19 tools, more or less, and not all are useful for the work I do, but I've used most of them on one occasion or the next, and they seem to work well. It is also a good time to note that the tool is stainless steel throughout and has a black oxide finish over it that gives it a killer look. Since mine gets used everyday, it has some wear on the finish that give it character and make it look really cool. Leatherman does offer a 25 year warranty on the tool, so if it breaks, send it back and they will fix it.
The sheath itself is constructed of a durable nylon canvas material and has a large webbing strap on the back with a snap enclosure to attach to your MOLLE gear. Note the drain hole at the bottom and the large protective flap on the front with the ever-so-cool Leatherman logo in subdued grey. The front enclosure is velcro, which works as intended. It's not flashy, but it works okay. I would actually prefer a normal belt sheath for work use because that large MOLLE strap allos the sheath to walk a bit. It's nothing against the design itself. I'm just not using it as intended. So, I might get a different belt sheath and stick this sheath on my T.A.G. Gladiator chest rig.
I wouldn't classify this as an outdoorsman's multi tool. I think you'd be better off with something like the Wave if you wanted something for backwoods use. But if you're a working man, or woman, you'd do well to put this little tool on your hip. I've said before that I'm a huge fan of multi tools because they do serve a purpose for people like me. I'm a big believer in having the right tool for the job, and the Super Tool puts many right tools for the job on your hip. Being prepared for anything is what makes the average Joe a super hero... so to speak.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
But in recent years, companies have made great strides to make water bottles easier to live with and use. Many years ago, my wife and I bought CamelBak and Kelty hydration bladders to use in our backpacks for hiking, and they are my number one way to hydrate while on the trail. As an aside, I will have a review on CamelBak's Omega Water Beast 70 oz bladder later on. Hydration bladders are great when you have a backpack, but for everything else, you need the bottle. The problem is that the old Nalgene bottle, or my old Lifeline, are so passe anymore. I don't know how many cracked lids I've gone through, or wet socks I've had to put up with because of leaks in my pack. As for working out, I hate having to unscrew a lid every time I take a drink, and then spill some on my face because I'm running on the treadmill. I like squirt bottles, but they start leaking over time.
So what's the solution? Enter the CamelBak Eddy series of water bottles. These aren't your daddy's old Nalgene bottles with screw on lids and ring retainers to break off when you use them as carabiner attachment points. Oh no. This water bottle is better. It has features that other bottles can only dream of. Now, of course, if you don't care about these features that you can go elsewhere. But back here in the 21st century, these features actually mean something to a technical guy like me, and when you consider spending $10 on a 1 liter wide mouth bottle that will spill out the entire contents if you get bumped while drinking, or drop on the ground, then consider spending a few bucks more and get something that is actually worth the price of entry. Nalgene, Lifeline, Aquamira, etc, have some serious competition here folks. Read on.
Okay, let's start with the features that I like:
1. Bite Valve. This little medical grade silicone valve flips closed when not in use, and flips up when you want to sip from it. The shape is such that you can hold the bottle with your hand, and use the thumb on the same hand to operate the valve. This makes it truly one-handed. It is spill proof and closes tight when not used, so I don't need to worry about closing this bad boy after I take a drink. I have carried this upside down didn't lose a drop. The silicone is durable, and will last. But should you decide you want to bite through the valve, CamelBak sells replacement valves for cheap. The advantage of a bite valve is that you won't guzzle your water. Just take a sip every few minutes. This is actually better for your body anyway. The rule is 1 cup every 15 minutes of activity. That's really not a lot of water when you think about it. That means that this 1 liter bottle could last you 1 hour while hiking. Try lasting 1 hour when you guzzle water. Won't happen.
2. Straw. Believe it or not, I like this feature. You can remove the straw if tilting your head back is your thing, but there are many advantages to using the straw. The first is that you don't tilt your head back. This saves strain your neck, and keeps you looking forward when you drink. When you are hiking, you don't want to tilt your head back. Chances also are that you have a pack with a cargo area behind your head and can't tilt your head back very far anyway. Additionally, if you are driving, the last thing you want to do is tilt your head back and take your eyes off the road, even if you are stopped. I was cruising in the Jeep about 75 miles an hour and taking sips without taking my eyes off the road.
|CamelBak Eddy in the gym bag with my workout clothes and towel. I would never attempt this|
with my old Nalgene bottle because I've had them leak. Drying off with a wet towel sucks!
4. Lid. The screw on lid houses the bite valve, straw and carabiner hook attachment. I also use it to hold onto the bottle with just one finger while transporting. The threads are shaped to seal the bottle when it is screwed down. Over time, this system eventually fails. The advantage of the Eddy is that since you don't need to unscrew the cap every time you want to take a drink., the lid will last much longer, require less maintenance, and leak far less than the competition. The carabiner attachment is built in and is made from some copolyester, and makes it not only durable, but flexible. This is also what makes it comfortable to carry by the crook of my finger. It's not so inflexible and rigid. The lid makes the bottle feel expensive.
Now the bottle is BPA free. Everything on this bottle is. I didn't buy into the health side affects of it, but what I do know is that BPA free bottles don't take on odors or allow them to linger. I've owned older CamelBak hydration bladders that would smell like lemonade long after you cleaned them out, or retained musty mildew smells that made the water taste awful. Mind you, this was after proper cleaning. The Eddy is dishwasher safe (top rack) and cleans up nicely.
I'm not big on drinking soda these days, but if you are, then there is something you need to be aware of - something that is inherent in any bottle that uses a straw. if you put soda in the bottle and close the lid on it, first be sure to fill it only 3/4 full to allow for expansion of gases. Second, remove the straw! My wife and I had a hell of a time figuring out why the sippy cups for our kids were spurting cola out of them when we'd fill them up. Well, that's why. The pressure builds up in the straw and overcomes the spill proof slit on the nipple and you have a Mt. Coca Cola erupting, getting that sticky shit everywhere. The fact that these CamelBak bottles are like adult sippy cups makes them have the same inherent qualities when drinking soda. My recommendation is to avoid soda altogether, but if you want to read my opinions on that, check out my other blog, "100 lbs to Rainer."
All in all, I feel that the CamelBak Eddy, as well as the Groove, are a lot of bottle for the money. The fact that you can forego the plastic PET bottles and just fill from either the tap or a water cooler make them worth every penny. I've filled my bottle up from a water cooler at work to take with me on jobs all week. With the money I've saved not buying 1 liter bottles of Aquafina, Arrowhead, Evian (Naive spelled backward, btw), Dasani, or (gasp) FIJI, the CamelBak has paid for itself over and over and will continue to do so as long as I fill it with water that my employer has to pay for. If you use a filtration system in the backwoods, like I do, then you will save even more money because you don't have to hike in bottled water that you had to buy.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I figured I'd open this entry with a picture someone sent me on Facebook, and I think it provides a great opening statement in support of legal concealed carry wherever possible. These two incidents occurred two days from each other, the situations involved bad guys intending to do harm, yet the outcomes were completely different. Why? Simple. In the first story, the elderly gentleman was carrying a legally concealed weapon and was able to stop the attack. The people gunned down in Colorado were not.
Now, before I continue, I wish to express my deepest sympathy for the victims of the Colorado shooting. It was a senseless act of violence and my heart goes out to the victims and their families in this difficult time, and my prayers are with them.
All too often, I hear people talk to me like I'm crazy for stating that I carry my gun into places like movie theaters, grocery stores, parks, restaurants, my own home, or any other place that I'm legally able to do so. They label me as paranoid or ask what the heck I'm afraid of. Well, then something like this happens to make national headlines, and suddenly all my same friends tell me that they now understand (sort of) why I carry, but then forget in a few months after the knee-jerk calls for stricter gun control blow over and the story no longer draws viewers over to MSNBC.
Yet in spite of all this, there are those of us who do understand and remember. We continue to carry, train, and keep an open mind and a sense of awareness of the things around us because should something like this happen again, we want to be able to stop the attack, or at least go down fighting like Americans - not French -Canadian sheep.
And then it hits. People call for gun control. "If guns were illegal, then this man wouldn't have had the hardware to do this." Bullshit! You honestly think that banning guns will get them off the street? Get real! Heroin is illegal too, yet I know exactly where I can go to acquire some. America is flooded with all things illegal, like drugs, illegal weapons, contraband items, and there is no shortage of people who are in the market for such things. All banning guns will do is send them underground. The next thing you know, the black market will be flooded with [now] illegal weapons that can be had anywhere in any city in any state for very cheap. Don't believe me? Give me $500 and a few hours, and I'll produce a stolen weapon just to show you how easy it is to accomplish. Banning firearms serves to do nothing except disarm a law-abiding public while allowing criminals to stay criminals and keep their illegal guns. At this point, the argument against gun control is so glaringly obvious that completely ignorant morons are the only ones that believe it will actually work. Oh, and here comes the gun control supporter's worst nightmare: England. I don't need to say anymore. Google gun control in England. See how you feel about gun control after some light reading on the state of affairs in that poor country.
Now I'm not saying that if I was there, at that movie theater, things might have been different. From what I understand, the bad guy was clad head to toe in armor, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have been stopped. You know what the real problem is? It's not the fact that he was a lone gunman shooting into a crowd of unarmed people. It's that he was shooting into a crowd of unarmed sheep. I'm sorry if this offends you, but it's true. Remember 9-11? Remember the folks on flight 93? They rose up and stopped a potential terrorist attack by overcoming the hijackers and retaking the plane, only to nose dive it into a Pennsylvania field rather than become human missiles. That sort of heroism should be lauded in this country.
Yet for as long as I can remember, people in positions of authority have been pounding the phrase "Don't be a hero" into our heads. No, let the police take care of that; it's their job. No, their job is to show up afterwards and either take a report or draw a chalk line around your dead body. Where were the cops when this attacker showed up and mowed down a crowd of innocent people? Hmm, nowhere. That's because most police work is reactionary in nature. They couldn't predict this deranged man would do this - otherwise they'd have had a contingent of S.W.A.T. waiting for him.
The problem is that nobody in that crowd had the intestinal fortitude to do what was necessary and rally everyone to bum-rush the bad guy. I mean, c'mon folks. You're gonna die anyway. You might as well go down trying to be the hero, which is what you are if you run toward the danger in an effort to save lives. Having a gun is better because you can shoot at him too. One-hundred people bearing down on one man will be triumphant. Sure, people will die, but people died anyway, so what's the difference? The difference is they could have saved more lives and stopped an attacker's butt cold.
But this situation was the exact opposite. People cowered and ran for the exits rather than stand up and face this threat head on, conceding to be shot in the back rather than go down with their fist's clenched in fury as they throw themselves upon their attacker and fight for their very lives. No, society has taught us to lay down and die rather than to be a hero.
Someone told me that guns were not allowed at the particular venue in question. I don't know the validity of that, but I can speak to it hypothetically. For starters, in my situation, I carry wherever and whenever legal. This also means that I choose not to patronize establishments that make it clear they do not want weapons on the premises. End of story. Hey, if they feel they have a need to restrict my inalienable human right to self defense with a firearm, as recognized by the 2nd Amendment, then I feel I have a need to restrict them from collecting my money in exchange for goods and services. There are too many gun friendly establishments in this world that would love nothing more than to have me walk in with my legally concealed firearm.
And that's part of the issue with this shooting in Colorado. Okay, maybe guns were allowed, maybe they weren't. If they weren't, then it's a prime example of how criminals are emboldened to go through with crimes such as these. It's the same old song and dance every time. You have a venue, or a school, or church, etc where guns are not allowed, and some whack job rolls in with weapons and has a hay day at the expense of a lot of citizens. On the other hand, if an establishment is pro gun, or just doesn't care one way or the other, and a few of these mass shootings are stopped cold by well aimed fire from a law-abiding citizen, the criminals soon learn that actions such as mass shootings are probably not in their best interest.
The last part of this is avoidance. Hey, if I can't carry a gun in an establishment, I just won't go there. What's the need? I mean, unless it's the post office or picking my kid up from school (which awesomely enough, it's legal to carry your concealed gun into a school in Utah), then I have no business putting my neck out like that for the sake of some bullshit that was trivial to begin with. Do I want to see Batman? Sure. Do I want to lose my life or feel unsafe because I can't bring my gun to the movie with me? HELL NO!!! As an aside, I don't know how long it's been since you last went to a movie theater, but there are some really weird wacko's that go there besides you. I'm not saying they are harmful (they are probably completely harmless), but then again nobody thought a man would just run into a crowd and start shooting everyone on opening night of a Batman movie. The point is that you don't know and you can't know. The best we can do, as armed citizens, is to make sure that we practice jurisprudence when we decide where and where not to go as we do the things in our lives that bring us joy.
Once again, my heart goes out to the victims of this senseless tragedy, and pray for them and their families as they go through this difficult time. But I implore you, the law-abiding citizen to gun up, get training, get a permit, and carry a damned gun with you EVERYWHERE YOU GO if you are legally able to do so. It might just save your life someday.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Mechanix brand gloves. For me, they are the best of all worlds with very few compromises. Of course, in my line of work, I wear what my company provides because it's a requirement, but when I'm spending my own money, I turn to Mechanix 99% of the time - and I have good reason.
Now, before I get into the specifics of what you need to look for when choosing a pair of gloves, I want to show you what can happen if you don't wear them. WARNING: The next couple of pictures may be graphic to sensitive readers, so if you are squeamish, please turn away now.
hematoma developed, which created this golf ball size swelling on my hand, requiring the doctors to remove stitches and find the source of the bleeding and clamp it off. Unfortunately, they could not, and I had to be subjected to compression therapy, which is not fun, and after they were able to get it under control to the point where they could close up, the bleeding continued a little bit, causing the palm of my hand to appear bruised and swollen. Had I been wearing my gloves, the cut might not have been as bad as it was. And yes, this did cut to the bone, for those who are interested in knowing.
Okay, so now that I have you convinced that wearing gloves is right for you (and if you're not convinced, scroll up and stare into that cut for a few minutes until your face turns green, then keep reading), I'm going to list the things that I look for when purchasing gloves. Also, remember that one glove does not fit all tasks. For some jobs, the tan gloves at the top are ideal, like shooting, hiking, etc, and for other jobs, having a padded palm, leather fingertips, etc, are ideal. Also, if you're splitting wood, you are going to want a thick heavy pair of leather gloves for that task.
So, instead of a long list of stuff that may work for some things, but not for others, I'm going to put out requirements needed for the tasks I engage in, which is probably more or less than you engage in, but you'll be able to figure out your needs based on these items. Some qualities and features may repeat themselves, so use that cross-reference to help you build your own list based on what you do.
I'm a generator technician/diesel mechanic by trade and I work on my own cars. Here's what I look for in gloves when I'm doing this type of work.
1. Dexterity. I should be able to pick up a dime or a nickel while wearing gloves. Also, if I'm shooting, I want to be able to load a 380 magazine without taking the gloves off.
2. Durable palm/finger area. The bulk of the action takes place here. I don't want to wear holes in the fingertips or palm area prematurely.
3. Well placed seams. I don't want the seams right at my fingertips per se because I need to be able to run a bolt with a head as small as 5/16" in tight places. A bulky seam at the tip makes that task all but impossible.
4. Breathable, yet tough materials for the back of the hand and wrists. I want the back of my hands protected against abrasions when trying to wriggle them into tight areas under the hood. In addition, I want air to get to them so a breeze will keep me cool and dry while working.
5. Security. Either Velcro closures for the wrist, or in the case of my second picture, an elastic band of sorts to keep the glove on my hand.
6. Lightweight. I don't want to feel like I'm wearing boxing gloves. I want them to feel like a second skin.
Yard Work/Handling Debris/Dump Run Work/General Labor
The gloves I want for doing general work, like yard debris cleanup, running a lawn mower, handling garbage or removing materials (basically work that doesn't require fine dexterity), I look for gloves that are a bit tougher than basic gloves with faux leather palms.
1. Leather (or close to leather) palms and fingertips. Even better if the palm area is padded to help keep vibration or palm impacts to a minimum.
2. Breathable, yet tough materials for the back of the hand and wrists. I want the back of my hands protected against abrasions when handling debris or working around old nails or screws, or whatever the case may be.
3. Security. Either Velcro closures for the wrist, or in the case of my second picture, an elastic band of sorts to keep the glove on my hand.
4. Dexterity. Though I don't need to be able to pick up a quarter, I still might need to work a screwdriver or small wrench, so I want to be able to do that without removing the glove.
When I chop wood, only the thickest and toughest will do.
1. Full thick leather. When I'm running a chainsaw, using an ax, batoning wood with a knife, or doing anything where my hands are in the vicinity of fast moving sharp things, I want the armor qualities of good solid leather. Dexterity is not an issue here.
2. Good fit. Even though dexterity is not an issue, I still need a good fitting glove because I want it to be secure on my hands so it doesn't feel like it's going to come off or feel like a boxing glove.
This is pretty straight forward.
1. Gore Tex waterproofing. It's waterproof, or at least very water resistant. Keeps your hands from getting soaked with water, helping to keep them warm.
2. Removable fleece liner. Fleece is good stuff, and I want to be able to remove the fleece liner from my gloves to help with drying.
3. Thick insulation. Go do some research on Thinsulate because there is a lot of information out there already. Needless to say, you don't need full dexterity when you are digging snow cave. You need to be warm.
4. Security. Nice thick Velcro closures as well as draw cord closures to help close the glove down to keep the snow out.
5. A second pair of dedicated heavy fleece gloves to use when you are finally in your cave or tent and don't need waterproof qualities. They also offer dexterity so you can cook food and do minor camp chores.
If you are doing stuff like camping or backpacking, it behooves you to have a glove system. If you are going to baton wood right now, but go to handling other debris in a minute, or need a layer of warmth to take the edge off a cool morning, you'll need to bring multiple pairs of gloves. I like the Mechanix gloves for camping because I can bring 1 pair of my shooting gloves, 1 pair of hard use gloves, and a pair of leathers for wood processing. On colder days, a pair of heavy fleece gloves will come with me as well.
Also, if you're going to be handling fluids while wearing your gloves, get a larger pair of nitrile gloves to slip over them to keep them clean. I wear a large Mechanix glove and then slip a XXL nitrile glove over it for fluid work. Then tear the nitrile glove off without removing the base glove. It helps them last longer as well as keep fluids from being held against your skin.
Breathable gloves can be worn in weather hotter than 100 degrees F. I know this because I've been working in 100+ temps and I wear my gloves at all times, especially now that I have a nice scar to remind me to put them on.
If you need to remove the glove to get ultimate dexterity, remember to put it right back on when you're done with the small task at hand.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. I need to make it evolve, but don't know what to do in order to make it more interesting to more people. Should it be a philosophy only, pictures, or gear blog? I don't buy enough gear to warrant a blog dedicated solely to testing equipment; I just don't have the budget for something like that. So if anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears.
Until then, stay busy stay safe. And yes, I took that picture at a remote site in the new place I work.