Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The making of an action hero pt19

Entry #18 One of the things I love about action heroes is that they always have the right tool for the job. I don’t have Q working in my back room on gear customized to each day’s probable disasters. So I’ve been looking for a selection of every-day-carry items to aid in dealing with a variety of situations. I’ve been working on this project in one form or another for a couple years now. As an Eagle Scout and gadget-guy, I don’t like having to depend on others to provide basic tools and medical care. I’ve met some people that prefer to carry thirty pounds of gear with them everywhere they go including multiple weapons, tools, rations, trauma kits, gas masks…etc. Granted, I’d prefer to carry a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range, a space marine division, a class one trauma hospital, and the crew of the enterprise—but people start looking at you funny when you go that route. So there are going to be some compromises in this process. That’s actually the first thing I learned when I started looking at pre-assembled survival/medical/emergency bundles. Most of the designers of those bundles had entirely different requirements than I—especially for EDC. They were all either too bulky, contained items that I can’t legally carry, were planning for all of the wrong kinds of disasters, or were more interested in generating the feeling of preparedness without providing much honest utility. Basically, every one of the kits I looked at was a compromise in form, function, or scope. After going round and round with product reviews, I came up with the following requirements that needed to be filled: • The pack needs to provide unobtrusive carry and function in public. • The pack components need to be carryable under state law and my workplace’s guidelines. • The carry choice needs to leave both my hands free. • The pack needs to cover basic medical care as I can expect to encounter on hikes, public transportation, group outings, and road trips. • The pack needs to provide modular components that can be removed and upgraded as needed. • The pack needs to provide me with a functional set of tools for dealing with a variety of issues in both urban and rustic environments. • The pack contents should take into account friends and family. • The pack needs to do all that and carry my lunch as well. I started out looking for a lunch bag as a base for the project. I wanted something bigger than a fanny pack but smaller than a laptop bag. Not having a shape that supports belt-rigged packs, I wanted something that could be worn cross-body. I wanted something with a lot of pockets. Amazon, usually my friend in such searches, had issues finding an item that met all my conditions. After reading yet another review of a laptop bag rebranded as a messenger bag, I came across a wonderful company called Maxpedition. Maxpedition makes bombproof gear built for hard use by law enforcement, the military, and people who operate under harsh conditions. Their products are over-engineered for durability and functionality. More important to me, they make a line of cross-body hip packs called versa packs that range from the very small up to ones large enough to carry a full sized laptop computer. I ended up going with the fatboy GTG variant. The GTG has a pocket for a standard sized water bottle, a side zipper compartment, a zipper pocket on the flap, a third zippered compartment in front of the main storage area, and a quazi secret document/concealed carry envelope behind the main storage area. It hits that sweet spot between too small to really carry your stuff and so big that it becomes inconvenient. I’ve used the GTG as my lunch bag and general purpose travel accessory for the last year and a half. The bottle pocket holds a thermos 22 ounce water bottle securely. The main pocket holds one of my wraps, a container of Greek yogurt, an apple, and a small blue icepack. The top zippered pocket holds an assortment of pills, band aids, and a pocket corkscrew. The versapack is comfortable. My only complaint is that the design means it always finds its way back to my right hip, even if I pull it around behind me. Maxpedition makes the fatboy in several colors. I opted for the least commandoish of the lot, a cacky color that one of my coworkers says looks like an old man’s fishing rig. That’s fine. I’m shooting for harmless, and that description will suffice. I’m working on the rest of the pack’s load out. I’ve tried several multitools in the quest for something solid, compact, and functional. Currently the best candidate I’ve found is a Victorinox Swiss tool. This is basically a beefed up and polished version of the standard leatherman with better quality machining. I’ve had this one for over a decade and it has never let me down. It gets high marks for having both a locking function for all the tools and a plier mechanism that actually lets one apply pressure to the grips. The add on hex tool has been used from everything from assembling kids toys to tightening the head of a tomahawk. I’m going to try out some of the S.O.G. power pliers, but it’s going to take a great deal of work to outshine the Victorinox. For the rest of the pack I’m looking at an Adventure medical pocket survival kit, some sort of first aid kit, duct tape, a survival blanket, a small flashlight, a smith’s pocket sharpener, a pair of rubber gloves, and a fire starter. The only real sticking point is the first aid kit. I haven’t found one with a decent selection of components that will fit in the versapack’s front pocket easily. This may be one of those situations where I’ll have to build one myself. Today the long awaited wilderness instructor belt arrived. Woooo boy! This is a manly thing. I probably should have gone with the 1.5 inch version instead of the 1.75 inch version. The belt buckle is made of heavy steel. It’s a very robust chunk of metal. The belt is made of tri-stitched black webbing that fastens by reverse threading through the buckle. The loose end cinches down to a length of Velcro on the side. I ordered a 47 inch version and by the fit probably should have gone with a 48 or even 50 inch. That said, the belt is currently set at the largest alignment possible with 6-8 inches of room for taking it in as I lose more weight. I’ll have to ask friends if it’s acceptable to wear in public for anything other than under a shirt. I wore it this evening up to and back from the shopping center with no discomfort. The buckle digs into my gut a bit when I’m sitting down, but so did my old belt. I think I’ve found the perfect thing to remind me of my goals when I start getting hungry. Cheeseburger—poke poke, jelly beans—poke poke…etc. My intake for today: Breakfast=a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, a banana, and a glass of water. Work meal=a turkey and Swiss wrap, an apple, and a yogurt. Dinner=a bowl and a half of leftover pasta with chicken and veggies and a glass of water. I managed today with no dessert. That’s good because tortellini is heavy stuff. Starting weight was 297.8 pounds.

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