Monday, February 13, 2012

5.11 Field Ops Watch

Item: 5.11 Field Ops Watch
Price Range: ~$170.00-$250.00
Make: Foreign
Dimensions: Outside case diameter, 35mm
Weight: Hefty
Time in Testing: 4 years
Design Intention/Application: durable outdoor watch with ballistic calculator 
Features: high- density polycarbonate frame, ballistic calculator, polyurethane wrist band, digital compass, digital readouts, omni-directional bezel, backlight, water resistant to 100m, optional extended band for wearing the watch over gloves or clothing, day, date, three time zones, alarm, chronograph, countdown timer, hourly chime, countdown timer features in audible town every minute, Crystal diameter is 35 mm, outside diameter of the case is 50mm & two year warranty

The saga of the "Field Ops" began in August of 2009 when I first purchased the watch. Within four weeks of its purchase, the plastic housing which holds the band connecting pin cracked. Foolishly I did not contact customer service, as it still held the watch rather firmly. I continued to wear the watch every day until ten months later, when the other pin housing cracked. At this point I laid the watch aside, to tend to it a few months later. 

When I finally made the decision to call 5.11, they instructed me to send that one in, and a few days later, there was a brand new watch sitting on my porch. This watch too was worn every day, untill once again, the pin housing cracked. And like the time before, I held out, only to have the adjoining pin housing face the same demise. It was a rainy summer's day in June 2012, nearly a full four years since its purchase.

I hate to say it, but the watch did not flatter me and I would not buy another one. There were several downsides; it was large, expensive, and had cumbersome controls. While large and robust, it didn't have the durability even a Timex would posses. If you search the comments on 5.11's page (link below), you can see others had similar issues with the band. Similarly, manipulating the features on the watch was complex. While I can't give specifics from memory, I do remember being very frustrated when scrolling through the menus. 

The one feature I can't vouch for, is their ballistic calculator. As an individual who does not have an experience with long range shooting, it is not my place to do so. 

The 5.11 field ops watch is promising however, needs major improvements in future versions before my recommendation can be given. It must be more durable and have a less complicated user interface (Timex Ironman series would be a good reference) in order to justify the cost. If those problems could be fixed, I could even see the production of quality outdoor watches featuring altimeters and barometers. These would be competitive with Sunnto and Casio watches, especially at that $200.00 price point. 


Camelbak or Granite

Item: Granite Tactical H2O
Price Range:
Features: Holds 100 Oz Or 3 Liter Hydration Bladders, Closed Cell Foam Insulation, Closed Cell Foam Insulation, 500 D Cordura® Nylon, Pals Webbing Throughout, High Output Hydration Ports, Internal And External Zip Pockets, Quick Release Shoulder Straps, Haul Loop, NIR Enhanced Concealment, Meets infrared reflective specifications exterior fabric and hardware, & #8 RiRi aqua zip zippers
Design Intention/Application:

Multifunctional is a beautiful term in the gear world. When one piece of kit can serve two purposes, both space and weight are saved. That is exactly why this hydration carrier by Granite Granite gear is a soldier's best option when it comes to hydration. 

See, service-members are issued Camelbak reservoirs and carriers, that are designed to be shoulder carried like a backpack. It is not possible for these units to be molle mounted on load bearing equipment (lbe) easily. This is where the Granite Tactical Gear H2O comes in.

The adaptability of the "H20"'s soldier straps eliminate the need for separate reservoir bags. Its straps, are constructed simply of thin and flexible 500D nylon. When used in combination of their quick release buckles, these straps can quickly convert from shoulder straps, to molle weaving straps. Their long length means is an added benefit. In backpack mode their is plenty of room for adjustment and in lbe/molle mounted mode, the length allows for easy and quick mounting as well as tight drawdowns to prevent gear from flopping allowed. In both modes, the excess can be tucked up into the middle  column of PALS webbing to leave a neat appearance.

Other brands of hydration carriers have little extra room and either small or no pockets. However, this is not the case with the "H2O" as it has two pockets and plenty of extra space. The two pockets are only X inches by X inches but can fit                  . One is on the outside and one is on the inside of the main compartment. The main compartment itself can hold a 300oz/3L bladder full and still have some room for other small items such as a multitool. Be careful not to put anything too small inside there as there are small holes in the bottom corners (about the diameter of your pointer finger). These will be discussed at the end.

If that isn't enough room, it has x rows by x rows of pals webbing to attach anything and everything which is a huge plus. On mine, I have the Source Universal Tap Adapt (UTA) in a molle sheath for quick access. 

Now for the small stuff. It has #8 RiRi aqua zip zippers as well as "high output hydration ports" located on the bottom. Honestly, I am not really sure what they were intended for (I am assuming they are for multiple bladder tubes), but they would serve as very large drainage holes. Lastly, it has closed cell foam insulation, and meets infrared reflective specifications exterior (whose, I'm not positive, but apparently it meets somebodies, I guess the military's).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Garrison EDC

Leatherman MUT
Cold Steel Recon 1
4 Sevens Preon 2
True Utility Telescoping Pen

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Subway Americana

Interesting ads from NYC Subway cars throughout the Century. Things have certainly changed. My favorites are the "Lighten Their Load, NRA, & WWI posters. Enjoy!

Leatherman Core: Gone But Not Forgotten

Item: Leatherman Core Multitool
Price Range: $50.00-$60.00
Make: Domestic
Dimensions: 4.5" long (closed)
Weight: 10.8 oz
Time in Testing: 5 years
Design Intention/Application:
Tools: (19)1/8" Screwdriver, 420HC Clip Point Knife with Straight Edge, 420HC Sheepsfoot Serrated Knife, 5/16" Screwdriver, 7/32" Screwdriver, 9 in | 22 cm, Awl with Thread Loop, Bottle Opener, Can Opener, Electrical Crimper, Hard-wire cutters, Needlenose Pliers, Phillips Screwdriver, Regular Pliers, Saw, Stranded-wire cutters, Wire cutters, Wire Stripper, Wood/Metal File
Features: 25-year Warranty, All Locking Blades and Tools, Black Oxide Version Available, Comfort-sculpted Handles, Leather or Nylon Sheath, Stainless Steel Body, Stainless Steel Handles

While discontinued, the Core is still a good buy if found. There are not many places left selling it, however it can be found typically in that $50-$60 range mentioned above (other than Amazon). 

 Weighing in at 10.8 oz, this tool is robust and durable. Thus, I'd classify it more as a mid to full size multi-tool. It is one I usually throw in my range bag, or car, or carry on me when weight isn't an issue. Although I have, its not suited for backpacking. I think a better option for carry is any juice in particular an XE6. 

It has the same quality found in every Leatherman product. Heavy construction, curved handles, precise plier tips, and tight joints make it so. This particular model, being older, has tools that open from the inside and lock buttons that lock the tools into place. It is not a one handed opening tool. Accessing the tools is easy as their are many large nubs for which to pull the tools out by. Inside tools are silky smooth in deployment and don't catch on the others on the way up, brining five tools out when you only wanted one. Locking and releasing the tools is also easy with the aid of the spring loaded lock buttons.  

The 420HC has stood up well to abuse and neglect. Most times she goes uncleaned, and despite the neglect there is virtually no rust. There are tiny pockets in small hard to reach crevices but it is barely even noteworthy.  Where I do see wear and tear is on the wire cutters. I don't cut wires often, howeve the blades have gotten dull, and while that doesn't bother me, it may bother somebody else (this was made before they had replaceable cutters). As with any knife, the drop point shape handles most utilitarian tasks well, and sharpens up quickly. This is not quite so for the serrated blade, as sharpening may pose harder not only due to the serrations, but the chisel as well. 

Capitol Supply
Cool Stuff Cheap
All Spectrum Aviation

Molle Muff

Item: FHF Gear Molle Muff
Price Range: $45.00
Make: Domestic
Time in Testing:N/A
Design Intention/Application:Hand Warmer
Features: 300 wt. fleece liner, water resistant 500D Cordura shell, internal mesh pocket for hand warmers, quick attach/detach from tac vests, maintain dexterity

With little information out on the product, I wanted to do an overview as I have had not had time to thoroughly test it. The muff certainly seems promising, and I didn't want to not cover the product before the winter ends. 

The intent of the product, is to maintain dexterity without gloves. As it is constructed of thin close cell foam, a fleece lining, and a hand warmer pouch it should allow one to do so. These features would allow you to keep your hands toasty and at the ready to get a weapon up or perform any other task. It mounts to an IOTV or any velcro sealed plate carrier easily. Just place the velcro hangers inside the flaps of the velcro and you're ready to rock'n roll. Its easy, and they remove easily too. If the vest is older, an individual may remove the velcro hangers and slide malice clips through (probably not as quick to detach as the velcro capability). It may be purchased with an optional belt, so it can be worn without being attached to any gear (great for hunting, hiking, etc.). The belt itself features, a quick adjustment tab, and the clip connecters can easily be attached/removed from the molle on the rear of the muff. Lastly, it features shock cord which enables to fold the muff over and retain the muff when not in use. This product seems to be a perfect fit for those reusable hand-warmers. Make sure to check out the photos. Captions will provide details. 

FHF Gear Website
FHF Product Video
Soldier Systems Daily Article

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Right Guard: New Nivea 3 in 1 Competition

Nivea's "Active 3" product (shave, shampoo, & body) has a new competitor; Rightguard. The product is called "Total Defense 5" and a 13.5 fl. oz. bottle costs roughly for $5.00.

Obviously I picked up a bottle myself and so far I like it. Unlike the Nivea it's a little less oily and washed off more easily. If you've tried the Nivea, this an alternative and perhaps something you'd like to try out. For those who haven't tried either, these are products that could help lighten and unclutter your travel toiletry bag. Just check out my earlier review on Nivea Active 3.