Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mad Mike BOB Finale: The Miscellany

(This is the finale of a serial review of the Bail Out Bag sold by Michael Z Williamson.  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 are linked.)

For the last segment of our review, we'll be covering all the parts of the bag that don't fit into the previously reviewed categories (blades/tools and medical gear).

 Flashlight, 5-in-1 tool, and paracord bracelet.

The paracord bracelet is basic, OD green, and listed at 8 feet long.  550 cord is an awesome thing to have, with near limitless uses.

The 5-in-1 is a match case, compass, whistle, signal mirror, and ferrocerrium bar.  It has an o-ring gasket to keep the matches dry, and the compass is accurate when compared to both the other compasses in the kit as well as two compasses I've had and depended on for years.  The signal mirror is contained and protected by the cap of the case (it's on the inverse side of the compass), and the whistle is loud and distinctive.

The flashlight throws a great glow in its "unfocused" setting, and is painfully bright when focused to a narrow beam.  It also strobes, which is great for signalling after dark (or an impromptu Bug Out Dance Party.)  It even comes with batteries, and honestly, how many things can say that these days?

 CRKT Eat'N Tool XL, Lifestraw, Glowsticks, zip ties, Lansky Puck sharpener.

The CRKT Eat'n Tool is a spork on speed, and this XL model is even better.  In addition to the spork, it has a can opener, bottle opener, and a wrench and screwdriver, just for extra kicks.  Light, handy, and awesome.

The Lifestraw is a 1000 liter rated water filter with no moving parts to break or wear out.  It is a .2 micron filter, and removes in excess of 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa from water.  Waterborne sicknesses are highly unpleasant at best, and potentially fatal.  All water from unknown sources is best filtered or boiled, and boiling takes work, so this is an incredibly good item to have.

Glowsticks give lasting light, while generating no heat or sparks, making them safe to use in an enclosed environment.  They are also non-toxic, so they're safe for children to be around.

The Lansky Puck is a two-sided sharpening stone that is particularly suited to larger blades. (I've heard folks talk about using to to sharpen a lawnmower blade, but I haven't had a chance to try that yet.  I have, however, run it across the head of my tomahawk, and was rather happy with the results.  It takes some practice, but is the same principle as using the whetstones we've discussed before.  At roughly 1" thick and 3" in diameter, it's perfectly palm-sized, with enough surface to handle all the biggest blades.

Sighting compass, Lansky Blade Medic, Magnesium/Ferrocerrite bar, NDur survival blanket, Lansky TASK guide.

The sighting-type compass is surprisingly good.  It is highly accurate, easy to draw a bearing with, and folds out flat to sit on a map for figuring routes.

The Lansky Blade Medic is a pocket-knife-sized sharpening set.  It contains both ceramic and carbide sharpening rods, a ceramic bar for sharpening serrated knives, and a tapered diamond rod for sharpening all of your odd shaped sharp things.

The magnesium/ferrocerrite bar is a good way to start fire when your matches give out.  It is definitely a tool that takes some practice to become proficient with.  Thankfully for the inexperienced, it comes with complete instructions.  Also, to all of the testing I was able to perform, the bar is actual magnesium, not aluminum or zinc like some cheap bars of unknown origin have been found to contain.  The one thing I would add to the firestarter is a section of hack saw blade, if one is available.  They make excellent strikers and scrapers, and will save wear and tear on your favorite knife.

The Lansky TASK Survival Guide is half humor, half valuable survival information, and an all-round fun and easy read.

The NDur blanket is a "space blanket" style, with two reflective sides.  The one I received in the kit is orange and silver, and can serve both to signal for help as well as reflect good amounts of body heat.  It is almost weightless, and opens to 4'x8', large enough to completely wrap an adult.

So, what's my final verdict on the Bail-Out Bag?  I'll give it the biggest compliment I can: I'm exchanging my hard-earned dollars for one, and I'm going to tell everyone in the market for one that they should buy one.  It's the best deal I've seen for the money.  Add some survival food and the water storage device of your choice, and you have a complete BOB, ready-made.


FCC Disclaimer: I flat said I'm paying my own money for it.  Should be clear enough that my review is honest.

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