Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Outdoor Element Kodiak Bracelet

It seems that everyone is making a paracord bracelet these days, and with good reason: 550 cord is incredibly handy, and being able to have 8-10 feet of it in a compact package is even more so.  In such a saturated market, a product has to have something special to make it stand out.  Outdoor Element has done just that with their series of bracelets.

I ran into the owner at a gun show about six months ago, where he was demonstrating his newest product, the Kodiak model.  After playing with it in his booth for a few minutes, I laid down cash and picked one up.

The Kodiak, like all other paracord bracelets, contains 8-10' of 550 cord in a variety of colors (length determined by the size of the wearer's wrist).  However, that's where the similarities with other bracelets end.  The Kodiak (and all other Outdoor Elements bands) has a fish hook tucked into the weave (covered with a protective plastic).  The Kodiak also contains a ferrocerium rod and striker in the buckle, and two strands of braided fishing line and a strand of jute tinder, in addition to the standard 7 cord strands.

Close up of the various strands in the material.

So, how good is it really?  Well, we've already discussed that I'm hard on gear.  This band has spent the past six or so months on my wrist or my backpack, and shows almost no signs of wear.  It's had gasoline, old oil, and engine sludge on it, and shows no deterioration.

My personal Kodiak after months of wear.
The fish hook looks identical to the standard hooks in my fishing gear, and the line seems tough and durable.

The striker and ferro bar work rather well, especially once you get the stroke figured out.  (Practice with all your gear.  You sink to the level of your training, experience, and practice, rather than rising to the occasion.)  Jute happens to be one of my favorite tinders, and this jute catches just as well as any other.

This does lead to the one weakness of the band, though:  It's not waterproof.  I had some concern about whether the jute would light when wet, so I took a spare piece of the cord material that I got from Outdoor Element and set up a test.
  • I sealed up both ends, exactly as they do in the actual product.  
  • I then dunked it in water for a three count (as if I'd dropped something in a body of water and then retrieved it). 
  • I pulled the jute immediately afterward, but was unable to get it to light with a match.  
I wish there was a way to correct this, but I don't see one, given the nature of the materials.  The moral of this story: don't depend on a single fire-starting material.

Overall, I give the Kodiak 4 stars out of 5.  It's an innovative idea, I like it, and will continue to wear mine, but I really wish there was a solution to the tinder problem.

Outdoor Element also makes other models of bracelets if the Kodiak isn't up to your needs.


(FTC Disclaimer: As I said above, I shelled out my own shekels for this.)

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