We all like getting new gear. I’m no different, even though I stress having skills over gear, I do like new stuff. This week, I went into the field & tried out a few new items.
First, let me point out that I bought this gear myself. The manufacturers don’t even know I’m reviewing it. I’m not one of these mega channels that gets free stuff to try out and I have never accepted a payment to give a good review. I give you my opinion. Now, I may put an Amazon affiliate link in here, and I get a few pennies from that, but not much. And I would never recommend or link to something I don’t approve of.
The first item is called a “Siege Stove” it’s available at http://www.siegestoves.com. The kit I bought has base cross members and top cross members. You can use the base with any kind of metal can, and the base has spikes for making holes in the can (instructions are included), but they recommend using an Ikea “Ordnung” silverware basket. Since I have an Ikea literally down the road, I invested the $3.49 for a large one. When put it together it looks like this:
The base allows air movement underneath and the holes let air in, creating a jet fire situation. You can use any type of fuel inside, but what I like about it is that you can just use wood. I made a wood fire inside it very easily.
I was a bit skeptical about how long it would take, but I put a canteen cup of water on the stove and it came to a rolling boil in 6 minutes. The fire shot up and burned hot inside the Ikea container. When I was done, putting it out was quick and easy. As long as you bury or conceal the ash some other way, this fire leaves no signature that you were ever there. It’s worth noting that I did this over leaves, and not one leaf below it for singed or burnt.
There are only two drawbacks. The first is that you have to wait for it to cool before stuffing it back in your pack, but it cools rather quickly. The other is that the cup, the cross members, and the can all get covered in soot. I used leaves to wipe off most of it. I suppose that in a WROL situation, you could use that for face camouflage.
I recommend buying at least a set of the cross members. The make a full, flat-folding stove that is still on my wish list.
The next new item is a radio. Specifically the Radioddity GA-510. The radio is marketed as a 10 watt, long range radio and marketed as “not a Baofeng”. My first impression is that “it most certainly IS a Baofeng”. Just slapping on an easier menu and new nameplate doesn’t mean it didn’t roll out of the same factory with the same software.
The reception is better than on a standard Baofeng, although I never use stock antennas. I used a Nagoya 701C antenna. I am pulling in the local Wal-Mart handhelds from 3.5 miles away on the 8 inch antenna. The speaker is higher quality and thus presents better sound.
As far as it’s claims, it’s power output is very similar to the BF-F9. It actually puts out around 8 or 8.5 watts on high power. What’s important to remember about range is that watts of output isn’t the only factor. A properly tuned antenna, geography, and height relative to the horizon all play into it.
The scan feature is much faster than it is on a standard Baofeng, but is still far slower than a conventional scanner.
It does feel a lot more solid and rugged, and they have removed the silly flashlight that you would never use. It’s a little odd in that the antenna is on the right side, but that’s no big deal. The menu system is much easier to use.
The main drawback for my use is the lack of the ability to turn the backlight off. You can reduce the amount of time that it stays on, but for a tactical radio, I much prefer the ability to turn it off completely.
All in all, it’s not a bad radio, but if you already have an 8 watt Baofeng, you aren’t gaining much by upgrading.
The last new piece of gear I got is the SOG Powerlock EOD. I love mutli-tools and I may even be addicted. This one feels absolutely solid. It has all the standard tools, but this one has a 1/4 drive for use with sockets.
The biggest feature I got it for was the built-in blasting cap crimper. As conditions deteriorate, you never know when you might need to crimp a blasting cap onto some det-cord, so this is good to have. In all seriousness, I spend a lot of time crimping cable connections for cameras, and this feature is great.
My only issue with it is that the tool is slightly smaller than the case, so it may rattle a bit.
I highly recommend it.
Last night, I finished the “Basic Urban Skills” chapter in Fieldcraft and tonight we’re working on Land Navigation. We should be completely done and ready to send for approval by the end of next week.
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