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9/10/10 - The Apocalypspork from American Kami is the "spork to end all sporks". At least, if the apocalypse comes, this is the spork you'd want to have with you. It's not your dinky everyday lightweight camping Ti spork, but is a real man-sized spork for those who want a bad-ass eating utensil guarranteed to strike awe into those around you when you whip this out.
DJ Urbanovsky is a custom knife maker, and is American Kami's sole proprietor. He designs and hand makes all of his knives, some of which you may have seen for sale on the TAD Gear web site. DJ's distinctive designs are aren't limited to knives, but also includes axes, fixed blades, folders, swords, impact weapons, key fobs, and now, eating utensils. Tired of the other Ti sporks offered on the market, he decided to make his own. 'Bad-ass' is not a term usually applied to sporks, but it's definitely applicable in this case.
Description - The Apocalypspork comes in two sizes; fullsize and stubby. Each is hand crafted on handmade dies.
Some of the main features of American Kami Apocalypspork are:
Observations/Notes - My first impression when getting the sporks were 'wow, they're big, but very light weight'. The fluid capacity is 1/3 more than the Snowpeak spork. In the size comparison photo below, you can see that they're larger than a standard table spoon. The bowl of the spoon is wider, but shallower than a tablespoon. Also because of the fork tines that allow liquid between them to escape, it holds slightly less liquid than a tablespoon. It'll hold more solid food though (you can really pile it up). The full size Apocalypspork is long - but is lighter than my stainless steel table spoon.
All edges are rounded off, so the spork is comfortable in the hand. Even so, the fork and rear point could do some damage if pressed into action as a defense weapon. Besides the tool holes, there's an attractive American Kami logo cut into the handle.
The sporks fit neatly into MOLLE webbing, although I do not recommend
carrying them like I've illustrated one below on a vest. You'd stab
yourself in the thigh. I wanted to illustrate how an ITW web dominator
can be used to secure a spork in a column of PALS webbing, for quick
Testing - This was the fun part. I got the Apocalysporks just in time for July 4th BBQs, and got the attention of fellow men-folk when I whipped one out. Of course, being the health nut that I am, I tested the sporks only on healthy food like Portuguese sausages, tri tip, chicken, potato salad, fajitas and such. The sporks do double duty as eating utensils and camp cooking tools. The handle end is good for poking coals and moving grills around, as well as lifting pot lids. Titanium has fairly low thermal conductivity so it keeps fingers from getting burnt from a hot utensil.
I found the stubby spork more handy for every day use, which I did use it for, every chance I could. My wife would roll her eyes whenever I ate with it. The full size spork, however, was more useful on camping trips, where the extra handle length made it easier to reach to the bottom of cans, containers or packages/bags. It also served well as a cooking spoon, where a standard one would be a bit short. The handle point could also be used to spear food if the spork end was too wide for narrower opening containers. The extra wide bowl holds a man-sized mouthful of food; something I took advantage of at every chance. I could really pile on the potato or pasta salad on one of these. This would make a great racing spoon. The fork tines are stubby, and their capacity is limited, so aim for larger pieces of food. Since all the edges are rounded off, and the spork has a tumbled finish, it's smooth on the mouth.
But besides its functionality and practicality, the AK Apocalypspork is just one cool looking spork. If you go hiking with a bunch of ultra lightweight tree-hugging hiker types and whip this out at dinner, there's a good chance you'll be the object of spork-envy.
12/20/10 - The D-Day Kit from United Spirit of America is a pouch conveniently pre-packed and sealed with personal care necessities for a one-day trip. It's light weight and compact enough to fit in the side pocket of a BDU, jacket, pack or overnight bag and is designed for use in tactical and non-tactical environments. The pouch is waterproof and floatable.
United Spirit of America (USA-Spirit) is a personal care product company specializing in toiletries for military, law enforcement, outdoor and the travel markets. They specialize in convenient and portable products, which are made with biodegradable content and superior formulation. Their products meet TSA requirements, making them travel friendly. With a product line specifically designed for military personnel, USA-Spirit has considered every angle, from unique packaging to the environment, in which the products may be used.
USA-Spirit offers both individual toiletry items from a couple of product lines or kits:
Basic Edition - The Basic Edition products are designed for everyday use by Military professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and law enforcement personnel, providing protection and excellent hygiene in easy-to-transport packaging. This line includes 3-in-1 products, such as the shampoo + body wash + shaving lather, anti-bacterial formulas that kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria (including the H1N1 virus), deodorants and more.
Outpost Edition - The Outpost Edition line features military grade products specifically designed for water restricted environments. They are aimed to provide protection against the harmful effects of the sun, wind, biting insects, bacterial and fungal infections often suffered by people operating under adverse conditions and extreme environments throughout the world. Most products in this line are unscented.
OK Kit - The OK Kit is an emergency preparedness hygiene kit designed to provide essential products for up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency or disaster.
D-Day Kit - The D-Day Kit shown here is a designed as a one-day kit that contains single-use quantities of personal care items, all packaged in a floatable and waterproof resealable bag. The bag has a grommet at the upper corner for hanging it with a carabiner.
The D-day kit contains:
Observations/Notes - The D-Day kit is designed for a short trip, when packing normal-sized toiletry items might be too heavy or bulky. We've all got travel kits with various items in them, some more than we need, which take up space in a bag. One way to cut down on too much extra stuff is to buy the smaller travel-sized items and assemble your own kit. But when you really want to pare it down, that's where the D-Day kits come into play. One D-Day kit should take care of most hygiene needs, in different environments. I'm not sure about the anti-fungal foot cream, as that's not a usual item I need, but if you need it, it's there. The resealable bag has enough room to store some other things, like a small toothbrush and toothpaste, if the little dental care sleeve isn't enough. The bag is re-usable, but note that it is not completely air tight due to the grommet. The D-Day kit shown here comes with the carabiner clip, but you really only need one, which saves you $2. While you can probably shop around and buy single-use items in bulk and assemble your own similar kit for a bit less, USA-Spirit offers the convenience of pre-packaged kits in the right sizes that are easy to throw in a bag without taking up much room.
1/14/12 - The E9 Camera Strap from Echo Niner is a compact, light weight and functional camera strap that also converts to a hand strap, enhancing your options to suit different situations. And it comes in MultiCam.
Description - The E9 camera strap design was based on the needs of the rugged outdoor individual in mind - one who needs a minimalist strap that isn't bulky when used with gear, yet still provides a lot of functionality. It was designed based on experience in the field; from those who photograph military or LE personnel in action, at home as well as overseas.
The E9 consists of a 1.25" heavy nylon sling webbing main strap (on the MultiCam one, it's cordura, not webbing) lined with rubberized grip material, and 1" wide adjustable strap that connects to one side of the camera, and a very short 1" wide strap with a female buckle on it that connects to the other side of the camera. The connections to the camera strap looks are made of mil-spec 550 parachute cord. The adjustable strap has a male SR buckle with which the length of the strap is adjusted by pulling on the loose end with the pull tabs sewn in. The main strap has a female SR buckle at one end and a male buckle at the other, so that the camera can be quick-released at either end. Duraflex buckles are used for the E9.
The E9 is attached to the camera simply by inserting the 550 cord loops through the camera's sling mount loops, and threading the straps and buckles through the 550 cord loop. A unique feature of the E9 is the ability to convert to a hand-strap configuration, by removing the main strap and buckling the two short ones together underneath the camera body. The hand-strap configuration can also be used to attach the camera to a vest by routing the strap through the shoulder strap of a vest. The camera will then hang at chest level, rather than swing around at tummy level, and can be easily grabbed for that quick shot.
Notes/Observations - For everyday use, I usually use my Luma Loop camera sling, because of the comfortable, wide padded shoulder strap and ability to quick-release the camera from the sling. When I need to transport and pack my camera into a smaller package, and I don't need the padding on the shoulder strap, I've been using the E9. I usually just wrap it around the camera and put it into a nylon sack in my bag. For a non-padded 1" strap, it's still pretty comfortable, and I like the non-slip rubberized backing on the main strap. The E9 is designed to hold the camera close, so it's purposely short. I'm a smaller guy, so it's long enough for me to use it worn around my body (around the neck and under one arm), but for a bigger guy, it may be too short. I generally use it just around my neck though. The one-handed single pull adjusting system is quick, and brings the camera up from belt height to sternum height in a jiffy.
The hand strap configuration allows the user to cinch up the strap, attaching the camera to the right hand. The strap can still slip forward or aft of the body (because the body is slick), but that by no means causes the hand to come out of the strap. Maybe some of that rubberized material sewn to the inside of the left side short strap may help keep it on the edge of the body. It's still a useful configuration when a shoulder/neck strap might get in the way. All in all, a good, functional camera strap for the tactically-minded photographer.
8/7/12 - The Operator's Notebook from 215 Gear is designed for leaders, sniper, JTAC's etc., who may have the need to write more information than a wrist coach can accommodate, without any additional light sources.
Description - The Operator's Notebook has a semi tri-fold configuration, measuring approximately 6.5" tall x 5" wide when closed. It'll fit in most cargo pockets when folded up. There's a front flap, a middle panel, and a 'writing surface' panel. The front flap overlaps the writing panel halfway, when both are folded inward onto the middle panel. Rather than use noisy velcro, the front flap is secured to the outside of the writing panel with magnets sewn into the corners. The Operator's Notebook is constructed out of 330D Crye Multicam Cordura.
The Operator's Notebook will obviously work with the front flap opening to the left or right. I just have it set up opening to the left in the photos below. Opening up the front flap reveals a fine-tipped, wet-erase marker pen (included), secured in an elastic sleeve. The middle panel has a flat compartment with clear plastic window. This will hold 4.25" x 5.75" information cards. Between the middle panel and the writing panel are sewn four more clear plastic sleeves, each visible from both sides, for eight additional information cards. Each sleeve will hold more than two cards, but shouldn't be overloaded if possible.
The right side panel features a rigid plastic writing surface. This 6" x 4" rectangular piece of plastic is removable, and is secured to the notebook with velcro. The interesting thing about this plastic surface is that it's photo-luminescent (glows in the dark after exposure to light). When placed under any light source for a period of time (about half an hour), the panel will self illuminate (glow) in the dark, allowing for note taking without any additional light source. The brighter the light source, the brighter the panel will glow. Depending on the light source, the panel can glow for 8+ hours. Testing it at night, I was actually very surprised at how long it glowed for. Even after a few hours when the initial brightness had dimmed, I was still able to write easily in complete darkness.
The supplied wet-erase marker requires water to erase (or saliva on a sleeve in a pinch). When I first started trying out the board, I wondered why it was supplied with a wet-erase marker instead of a dry-erase marker. It became obvious when I experimented with a dry-erase marker; the friction from closing the panel and subsequent movement inside the pocket erases the writing. So, while dry-erase markers are fine for white boards, they don't work in this application.
Since the luminous plastic sheet is removable, the Operator's Notebook can also be used with a 4" x 6" Rite in the Rain all-weather pocket notebook, just by putting some adhesive hook velcro on the back of the notebook.
While the Operator's Notebook is primarily designed for military use, it's definitely not limited to that. Hunters, LE officers, campers etc can make use of its features.
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