5.11 Tactical Rush 12: My EDC Bag

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Throughout college I regularly relied on cheap backpacks to get me through each year. Sometimes I’d end up switching out packs two to three times due to them wearing out, and generally they were fairly bare bones and uncomfortable. Once my last backpack bit the dust, I went on an epic search for something better. I had a few requirements. Durability was king. I wanted something that would last for a good long time. Size was the next big requirement. I didn’t want it to look like I was carrying a bag for the apocalypse, but I still wanted something that could fit everything I needed for the day plus more. Comfort was a big deciding factor as well. I’m going to be carrying a bag every day, it may as well be something that fits well and holds up under load. Finally, it needed good organization. I didn’t want to just dump everything into a pocket like my older bags, and hope for the best.

Enter, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12. This bag is a beast. It was definitely designed for active duty. Everything about the bag screams quality. From the nylon chosen to the stitching to the buckles and zippers, the thing is built to last. The overall capacity is about 21 liters, which is a really good size for me for a daily carry pack, or even a 2 day pack. The 12 does indicate that one can go 12 hours with this pack, but it’s longer for me for sure. The inside of the main compartment features 2 mesh zipper pouches on the front, along with a half height pouch on the back with an elastic drawstring. I tend to keep snacks, spare socks, and a packable water resistant jacket in the mesh pouches, and my small umbrella and some plastic bags in the nylon pouch at the back. The front features lots of MOLLE webbing and a couple of hook and loop patches for morale patches and name tapes. I’ve affixed mine with the Resistance logo and my current agent access level for Ingress.

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The thing is covered with MOLLE webbing, and even though it’s a tactical thing, it doesn’t really draw any attention. You can see on the side here more MOLLE, along with a basic compression strap. Also shown here is the zipper compartment for the back plate and the water bladder compartment. Beside the handles on either side is a hidden port for a drinking tube to be passed through. I tend to use the back compartment for my tablet, however if needed, it can fit at least a liter sized bladder in there for hydration. Between the straps and the carrying handle is a felt lined sunglasses pouch, which I use to store my power bank. Zippers on both the main compartment and the admin pouch on the front go all the way to the bottom of the bag, allowing it to be opened entirely like a clam shell.

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The back has slightly padded sections which definitely assist in relieving pressure on larger loads. You’ll see on the bottom padded sections two slightly rubberized patches which prevent the pack from shifting too much when in motion. The pack is also very comfortable due to the plastic backplate, which prevents things in the pack from digging into your back and causing discomfort. The straps are well padded and fully adjustable, and include more MOLLE webbing. You can also attach a chest strap here, which I don’t have attached unless I know my load is going to be very large and require the extra support. The chest strap prevents the pack from swaying side to side too much. You’ll also notice at the bottom is a drain hole, which is there in case of hydration badder leakage.

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The front features two pouches, a small pouch near the top, and the larger admin pouch near the bottom. The admin pouch is definitely where the backpack shines. As you can see, there’s a lot of organization available in the admin pouch, which keeps things pretty secure and easy to access. The nylon is all very heavy weight, just like the main construction, and the pouches are well thought out. You’ll see two large pouches on the front, and a huge assortment of smaller pouches on the back, which makes it easy to sort things like pens, cables, medicine, and sunblock. There is also a zipper compartment at the top which is rather spacious, and two plastic clips on nylon leads, which are great for holding things like keys, or in my case, my Maglite Solitaire and Leatherman Squirt.

After carrying this bag for around 5 months, I can say I can openly recommend it to someone looking for good organization and build quality in a backpack. If the tactical looks turn you off, you’ll be happy to know most don’t notice it. The pack is great for light backpacking in a city for a few days, daily carry, or hiking. If the size is still too large for you, there’s also the 5.11 Tactical MOAB 10 and MOAB 6, which both offer a smaller size and a sling configuration. If you’re looking for larger, the Rush 24 or the Rush 72 are the big brothers to my current pack, and all carry similar features and the same build quality.

If you’re interested in purchasing the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12, it tends to go for about $120 on Amazon with free shipping. This might seem like a lot for a bag, but for something that is built as well as it is, and something that is going to last as long as it is, I believe it’s well worth the asking price. [Link]

Stuff I Like: Anker Batteries

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If you have a smart device of any sort, you probably know battery life is always going to be king. Your smart devices probably have plenty of juice to last through an average day. There are times however, when your devices get used more frequently, and searching for a wall outlet and sitting stationary for an hour or two just isn’t going to cut it. With my recently acquired obsession with the mobile game Ingress, an augmented reality game for iOS and Android, battery life is even more precious. An hour or two of gameplay can burn my battery for the whole day!

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Enter Anker: Possibly one of the best companies when it comes to portable batteries and mobile device charging in general. Huge power banks with multiple USB ports to keep you going for days. Or, a 17 hour marathon of Ingress gameplay, which is exactly where I tested this battery.

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I have two Anker batteries, but the one showcased here is the Anker E5 15000MAH model. Truthfully, after conversions the actual output is about 10000MAH, however it’s still plenty for an entire day supporting both my tablet and my phone. There’s enough juice to fully recharge my phone 5 times, or my tablet twice! The battery features both a 1A and a 2A port (supporting the charging of two devices at the same time), battery level status indicators, and even an LED flashlight (not very bright, however could theoretically last for a very long time). The weight is about half a pound, so it’s no feather.

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Generally these units are also packaged with a single USB cable of pretty decent quality, and a protective case. When in use, I generally keep the battery in my back pocket, and don’t really notice it unless I’m moving quickly or doing something that needs a bit more stretching than walking.

Overall I can highly recommend the Anker. I went from not thinking I’d need something like this to relying on it almost daily, and definitely on any outings. If you value access to your mobile devices and not being tethered to a wall for a few hours, a power bank is a must buy!

The E5 is available at Amazon.ca for 59.99 with free shipping and no tax. You can use this link to purchase. Be warned, at the time of writing this post, only the white version is available. [Link]

EDC Update: September

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I’ve slimmed things down a bit since my last EDC post. As you can see here, I still carry the Syd wallet, which has been performing marvelously since purchase. I do still wish I got it in blue. Along with that I have my Citizen BM8180 watch, also a great and rugged performer. Next is my tried and true Galaxy Nexus, which should be getting upgraded by the end of the year. Finally, I’ve slimmed my keys down to my blue tritium vial, the Photon Freedom light (Fantastic little light), and I’ve replaced my Swiss Army Classic SD with a Swiss Army Mini Champ. Removed has been the Gerber Shard, and I don’t carry my Kershaw Skyline, Leatherman Squirt, or Maglite on my persons. They’re not too far away in my bag though.

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On the subject of the Mini Champ, the thing is a toolbox in the 58mm Victorinox format. Included tools are:

Blade
Scissors
Nail file w/ nail cleaner
Cuticle pusher
Screwdriver with ruler
Emergency blade
Orange peeler w/ scraper
Cap lifter w/ phillips magnetic screwdriver and wire stripper
Tweezers
Ballpoint pen
Keyring

Pretty darn impressive little list for something about twice and thick and the same length as the classic SD.

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I can see myself using lots of these implements daily, just like with my classic SD. The screw driver and bottle opener work ridiculously well and pretty much invalidate the need for the Gerber Shard. The orange peeler hasn’t been tested on citrus as of yet, but works really well on dreaded plastic packaging. As for the blades I plan on keeping the Wharncliff extremely sharp, and just using the main pen blade as a general work knife.

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The tweezers are good as usual and the pen is a nice little pressurized ballpoint. The ink color is blue, which I can live with, and it writes rather well. This pretty much eliminates the need for a pen wherever I go – It’s right there on the key chain.

Overall I’m really pleased with the Mini Champ. It’s a well built piece of Swiss engineering that will happily live on my key chain and make itself useful throughout the day as needed. My only real complaint is that it’s not black! At the price I paid though, beggars can’t be choosers.

 

For those interested, the Mini Champ can be purchased at Lowes for about 35 dollars with free shipping. Here’s the link for those interested.

Citizen EcoDrive BM8180: My Review

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Watches have become a bit of a fascination for me. After reading into the subject more and learning the basics, I learned there’s a lot more out in the world other than the digital Timex watch of my childhood. This research lead to a need to further study the subject, and perhaps start another collection of sorts.

My checklist for a watch was pretty simple. I wanted something that was minimalist and rugged, quiet, and most of all small, due to my wrist size. I definitely gravitated to Military/field style watches, with their simplified faces, basic date functionality, and Arabic numerals. Being my first real watch too, I wanted to keep the entry price fair, so I limited myself to under $150. I quickly narrowed it down to two. The automatic Seiko 5 SNK809, and the Citizen EcoDrive BM8180. After looking at how well each one kept time, the Citizen came out the winner.

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The BM8180 is a very handsome watch with a black face and silver housing, which can work well with a variety of straps from metal to NATO. Depending on the strap, one could use this as a dress watch as easily as one does casual. The 37mm size fits well on a smaller wrist and the watch can accept any standard 18mm strap. The strap included is leather backed green canvas with brushed steel buckles and holes. Overall the strap fits well and wore in quickly. As for the watch itself, the build is superb. No loose crystal, no play in the crown, overall solid feeling. The watch is water resistant and should be fine for light submersion such as swimming, dishes, showering, etc. I have yet to try this, however I have no doubt it’ll be fine. If there are any issues, Citizen does cover the watch for 5 years with their manufacturer’s warranty.

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One of the big draws for me for the BM8180 wasn’t just that the watch met all of my above requirements, but also the fact that it’s powered by Citizen’s Eco Drive. The watch uses barely visible solar panels behind the watch face to charge the battery of the watch in natural OR artificial light. This means as long as you have a light source, the watch will continue ticking. Once the battery is fully charged, the watch will tick for a good 6 months in complete darkness before it goes dead! I’m not sure about anyone who reads this, but I normally see some form of light within a 6 month period. As for keeping time, the quartz movement has been exceptional, and I don’t really notice any loss or gain in time after approximately 2 months of ownership.

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The watch face is very minimalist. The hands aren’t overly obstructive, except when they travel over the date, which is not a huge issue. The face does have basic lume on anything white, so all of the numbers will stay lit pretty well throughout the night, provided you’ve had a good day in natural light. The hour and minute hand are also very well illuminated, however the second had can leave a bit to be desired with just the tip containing lume. The second hand is ever so slightly off on my watch, however it’s definitely livable. The movement is practically silent as well, unless you have it in your ear in a quiet room.

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Overall, this watch does exactly what I wanted it to do – tell the date and time – and it does it well. It’s a piece of tech that’s been perfectly integrated into my life – I don’t need to constantly remind myself that I have a watch on. I don’t pull out my phone as frequently for time checks. It’s a “fashion accessory” on top of that. It can function well for both my day to day and anything business related that may come up in the future with just a quick change of the strap. Knowing I have something on me that will just function without intervention is almost comforting in a sense. I have a feeling this is my first of many time pieces, but it’s a hell of a nice first.

 

Here’s a link to where I bought it – I did have some really steep discounts though, thanks to all of the promos that shop.ca has going on.

EDC Update – New Wallet And Tritium!

May 21st, 2014

Not a lot has changed, but what has are nice additions! The ice blue tritium fob finally arrived, and after switching out the split ring to a smaller one, it’s happily living on my key ring. You can also see the True Utility Key Ring system put to use here. Tritium is a radioactive material, and will glow for 10+ years with no additional light source. The radiation isn’t strong enough to make it through the tiny glass vial embedded in the poly carbonate shell, so no worries about getting sick off of it. Heck, even then, I don’t believe the emissions are even strong enough to go through human skin. You can see the glow below! Sorry about the noise, I really could have cut back the ISO, but I wasn’t up for pulling out the tripod.

Ice blue tritium fob

As for the wallet, the Fossil Syd ID card case was my choice. Build seems good, holds a decent number of cards, and although green wasn’t my first choice in color (was hoping for blue or black), it’s growing on me. There are 3 slots for cards, a clear ID panel on the back, and a center slot for a small amount of cash. It’s pretty compact compared to the tri-fold I was using before. I find more and more that all I carry/need is cards, and a bigger wallet isn’t necessary. This comfortably holds my debit card, credit card, 2 loyalty cards (PC Plus and Costco), my health card and my ID. I still have room to spare for others, and can switch in and out depending on what I need. Really happy with the wallet so far – My only gripe is the window in the ID panel. I might end up removing it if it gets damaged, as I think the ID will sit in there just fine without it.

 

Hopefully another update soon.

The Beginning Of Something: Victorinox Swiss Army Knives

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Classic SD

The above Swiss army knife is my first, and definitely won’t be my last. This thing is absolutely indispensable. At 2 1/4 inches long, it pretty much disappears in your pocket, but is ready to strike for those small tasks that are just easier with the use of a tool. The pen knife is a great size for cutting tape on boxes and opening letters. The file is great for maintenance on stray nails, and the tip doubles as a small flat head screw driver. One may think those tiny scissors are useless, but considering the sharpness, they’re great for removing stray hairs and threads from clothing, or in a pinch, taking clippings from news papers or magazines. The tweezers and the toothpick are some of the more controversial tools on the diminutive iconic knife, and I lean toward the useful side of things. That toothpick is used regularly for cleaning teeth after a meal, and the tweezers I find are great – Awesome for the occasional splinter.

I don’t know who owned and used this daily before I had it, but that doesn’t matter a whole lot. They seemed to take good care of it, and beyond some wear on the scales, the tools appear to be in great condition. I cleaned up the scales with some 800/2000 grit sandpaper, and although I couldn’t remove the tiny pits in the Cellidor plastic, it just gives the thing some character. eBay is a great option for used Swiss army knives, but if you’re the type to buy new, the Classic SD goes for between 10 to 20 dollars on Amazon and in most stores. If you’re interested in buying, here it is on Amazon. I’d openly recommend this basic little tool for anyone’s key chain, regardless of how useful you think it is. Once you have it and know it’s there, you’ll find yourself using it daily.

What’s next? I’d love to start a Victorinox collection. There are a bunch of different Swiss army knives I’d love to have. I think I’ll start by replacing the above Classic SD with a MiniChamp (Same length, more tools, has a pen). My list of “to buy” Victorinox knives after that includes:

“Alox” (Aluminum oxide scales) Cadet
“Alox” Pioneer
“Alox” Farmer
2008 Soldier (I’d keep this in my backpack)
Sportsman
Cybertool 34
Ranger
Spartan
Rambler

And that’s just getting started. Really I can see my collection growing from there. The idea of the Swiss army knife to me is just really cool. Jack of all trades, master of none, and a compact package. They have an air of prestige about them as well, considering how long they’ve been made. I’m sure I’ll be posting more photos in the coming months.

New EDC Gear

Just a couple of new additions in regards to EDC came in this week. First up, the True Utility key ring system that showed up with my 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 bag.

True Utility key ring components

Above are the components of the key ring system, not attached to the split ring that came with them. I personally wanted this setup mainly for the key shackle, however the 1 inch spring gate clips are also really handy for adding and removing gear. The spring gates are pretty strong for their size, and I haven’t lost any gear off of them yet. The key shackle is probably the best part of the setup though. Consisting of a metal band and a screw, the shackle holds up to 5 keys (I have 4), and it feels like it cuts the size of the key chain down considerably. People have noted they have concern for the screw, however I feel it’s plenty secure, and really can’t see it coming loose for a long while. For the 10 bucks I paid on Amazon, I feel I got my moneys worth. I’d highly recommend the purchase if you’re looking to organize your key chain effectively. Check it out on Amazon here.

 

Peanut lighter

On top of that, I received the “peanut” lighters I ordered from Deal Extreme. It’s basically a really tiny waterproof Zippo style lighter. They’re 2 inches long and actually have a bit of heft to them.

Cap off

 

With the cap off here you can see the tiny wheel and wick. The insert pulls out, and you can fill the cotton insert like you would a normal Zippo style lighter. As far as I can tell, the wick and flint are replaceable, meaning these can go for a decent amount of time. Considering the feel of the build too, it seems like it should last. The only thing that worries is the rubber o-ring, but that should be replaceable if ever necessary.

The flame

As you can see, it has a pretty decent flame. It’s easy to light, only normally taking 1-2 strikes. Unlike a Zippo, there isn’t a chimney/wind break, so it’s not going to be wind resistant. Considering the size however, it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me. My only gripes with it are the lack of a flat bottom – You can’t sent it on a flat surface without it falling over. Since I ordered 3, I might try flattening the bottom of one to see if it’s possible. I’d recommend this as a good backup lighter. Even if you don’t smoke, a lighter is always worthwhile to carry around. The rubber o-ring also means you’re not going to see your lighter fluid evaporate over time. If you’re interested in ordering but are looking for a North American source, I’d recommend the True Utility version from Amazon. Check out the product here.

I have a bit of stuff that should be arriving next week, including more spring gate clips, small Nite-Ize s-biners in metal and plastic, and a tritium key fob in ice blue. On top of that, I ordered a couple of Munroe “mega dangler” clones and a Kingston MicroSD reader, but these aren’t tracked. If I’m lucky, those will be here next week too.

New Lego

Lego AT TE Walker

 

Just thought I’d post the latest build – A Lego AT-TE! Picked it up at Walmart for a whole $35. Awesome fun to build – Makes me miss my childhood Lego collection. The droid tank on the left was one of the sets that Karyn got me for Christmas. Figured this would make a nice little diorama. Hoping to add more in the future!

An Obsession With EDC

Once again, the obsession bug has bitten me, and it’s in the form of “EDC”. EDC is an acronym for “every day carry” – AKA the stuff you keep on yourself day to day. This might be as simple as keys and a flash drive, or as complex as an entire backpack full of goodies, but whatever you’re carrying is going to help you solve problems and improve your day to day activities. I figured I’d share what I normally carry and my thoughts on it all.

EDC for May 11th, 2014

Knife: Kershaw 1760 Skyline. A good knife is a good companion. Something larger than a pen knife will handle most larger cutting tasks, from rope to apples. The Skyline is made from Sandvik steel, has a single liner lock making it very light, and sports textured G10 scales. The knife is durable and lightweight, And doesn’t look overly tactical, making it a bit more friendly to the public. Wish they made a left handed version, but it’s easy enough to open and close with my left. I’m a huge fan of the understated look of this knife, and the lack of assisted opening makes it even less threatening.

Flashlight: Maglite Solitaire LED. Quite honestly, I haven’t looked into flashlights a whole lot, but the Maglite Solitaire LED is plenty bright for what I need it for. It runs off a single AAA battery, full metal housing, and is weatherproof. It’s a twist loose to turn on light, meaning you’re less likely to activate in pocket. The head will also come off allowing the light to act as a candle. 37 lumens is a bit on the low side for an LED flashlight these days, but I’m not going to complain for $15 and available locally.

Flash drive: Kingston DT108 4GB. Not really anything to say about this other than it’s compact. I’ll be swapping it for a Kingston MicroSD reader and SD cards which I’ll keep in a pill fob.

Multitool: Leatherman Squirt PS4. Extremely tiny multitool, but includes spring back pliers, a pen knife, a two sided file, large flathead screw driver, small flat headed screw driver (also works as a phillips), bottle opener, and scissors. It’s built well, packs a ton of features and has a good warranty. This can conquer just about any small task I might need it for daily.

Keychain: Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Classic SD, Gerber Shard, LRI Photon Freedom Micro, and keys, all on a aircraft grade stainless steel wire. The Vic is a used one that I picked up on eBay, cleaned and refinished the scales. It still shows a bit of wear, but the features are plenty and it’s pretty useful for personal grooming. The Shard is one of the great tools to come from Gerber, functioning mainly as a pry tool for me. The bottle opener works pretty well too. The Photon Freedom Micro is a great little keychain light that supports variable intensity, and comes programmed with a few different flashing settings. It also stays on without holding down the button.

Not pictured: Wallet, phone, Etymotic HF2 IEMs.

On the way I have a couple of pocket danglers to make things easier to retrieve from my pockets, a sweet little tritium key fob, some peanut lighters, an aluminum pill fob, some Nite Ize S-Biners in metal and plastic, a True Utility Key Ring System (mainly for the key shackle), and some other assorted goodies. My “EDC” will evolve, and I’ll be sure to post some pictures and thoughts on my changes. I have a 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 backpack on the way too, so once I get my backpack all kitted out, I’ll be sure to drop a review of that.

 

Phone Updated

2014-04-06 15.30.50

 

Finally up to date when it comes to Android. Figured I’d do something productive today and update. Still using my Galaxy Nexus, I decided to wander away from stock again and picked up LiquidSmooth 3.0. It’s based on Kitkat 4.4.2, making me up to date with the latest version. Along with LiquidSmooth, I also went ahead and flashed Fancy Kernel for some added quickness/stability. It was surprisingly quick too! I really could have done things just with the phone itself, considering I was able to install TWRP recovery from their app. After that, it was just a download of the latest ROM, Google apps, and kernel, boot to recovery, and queue up the files to flash.

My reasoning for updating is a bit silly. I was just tired of the OTA update notification, and too lazy to get rid of it. I suppose the added advantage of this is I get a faster phone with newer features. Lastpass, my preferred password manager, recently released an update for their Android app, allowing autofill to apps and Chrome. Autofill to Chrome was only supported on Android 4.3 or higher, so that’s another good reason. Also, why didn’t I play with DPI scaling before? 280dpi makes it feel as though I have a lot more room on my homescreen. May switch back to 320, but I’ll give 280 a try for a bit.