Monday, June 1, 2009

Must haves, at all times

I’ve posted in the past about the type of stuff I carry, every day carry, the contents of the bag pictured it my book’s cover, etc.
But we are not all alike, and we have different needs, or we’re just different people and what works for one may not work for someone else.
Trying to be extremely objective I’ll put down a short list of the few tools you’d do well to carry on yourself at all times.
Key word here being “at all times”. You need to have these with you or else you wont have them when you need them.

Utility knife/tool: I love knives and have carried a variety of them through the years.
Maybe it’s Spaniard thing but since little I always felt attracted to blades. In my youth I learned that the good steel came from places like Toledo in Spain or Solingen. That the kind of steel I liked the most was the kind that easily re sharpened but also stained and rusted easily, carbon steel.
Things have changed and today there are just so many tools available of such good quality, its easy to get lost in the huge spectrum of options.
Swiss Army knives have always been a classic, but today it’s hard to compete with multi tools such as the ones made by Leatherman. The models that have one hand open blades being the most complete models.

Leatherman Charge

Leatherman Wave
If you carry a multi-tool in your pocket or vest, certainly it’s the way to go. Heck, I carry a bag with me at all times with a multitool + several other items.
But sticking to the “at all times” premise, the one item no one leaves home without is the house keys and wallet, and there’s where you can find a way to force yourself to have some of these basic tools wit you at all time.
I’ve reviewed the Midnight Minichamp and like it more and more each day. I have the keys hanging in my door when I’m home and end up using the Minichamp or the LED light at least once a day. And that’s the great thing, having them around or on you when you need them.

Midnight Minichamp

The only thing that comes close to the SAK Minichamp in terms of keychain tools is the mini Leatherman tools, but they are sensitively bigger and may ruin the purpose of the keychain. The idea isn’t to have 10 pounds of gadgets, but to have two or three items that have the greatest usefulness/size + weight ratio.
So far, the Minichamp wins in my opinion.

Fighting knife: I carry one so I recommend it, and I fervently recommend it because I see people carrying knives for defense when desperate that never would have thought about carrying a knife for such purposes before. So it’s not just a self centered thing, it’s an objective observation of what I see other people doing.

Don’t be like them, be like me :^) carry and learn to use a knife for defense BEFORE the reality around you makes you so scared you just start carrying the Tramontina kitchen knife in your purse or in the jacket.
Small fixed blade is better, good folder works pretty well too. I like Cold Steel because of the price/quality ratio, others like Benchmade or Spyderco better. Honestly, you really should walk down to a store and handle some and see which one fits your hand better.
Like Nike used to say, “ Just do it”. Don’t wait until you understand the importance of having a fighting knife, just take my word for it and the experience of thousands world wide and get yourself a good fighting knife. And No, no, even if you carry a gun, you still need the fighting knife.

Spyderco Police

Fire: One of man’s greatest tool. You don’t want to be caught without means of making fire, ever.
I have a Elsa’s “Lucky charm” Zippo in my jean’s pocket, matches in my wallet, and at least two other forms of starting fire (Bic, matches) in my bag as well.
By the way, in case anyone ever wondered, IMCO Super lighter are cheaper, smaller, lighter, and takes almost x2 as much times before the fuel evaporates, so you might want to consider one of these instead.
For the “At all times” philosophy, a lot of people like flint and steel, the popular Firesteel is a good example. But you get sparks, not a flame.
After a few reviews and reading several comments, I ordered a couple “peanut” lighters and will be carrying one in my keychain. These last for moths since they seal shut nicely and the fuel doesn’t evaporate.
They are pretty cheap too. I sound like a freaking salesman here but it’s the truth, some of these things are dirt cheap but are great little items to have around. I believe Countycom makes a better quality one made of stainless steel, with a flat bottom that can be used as a candle.

Countycomm's Peanut Lighter in SS
Flashlight: I’ve been talking about flashlights in previous posts.
Today’s technology allows you to carry great LED lights that are tough and bright as nothing we’ve seen before. Those of us that are old enough to have carried the puny Solitair Maglite in our keychain know the difference. Pitiful in comparison!
Small LED lights such as the Photon are very small, and some of the Fauxtons (fake photon) cost less than a buck and are still very bright and durable. If you never had one of these in your keychain, you don’t know what you are missing.
Now, the latest LED generation such as the Fenix lights that use AAA batteries, not only allow you to have a LED for looking under the desk, but also have Hi output modes that give you 70 lumens or more. This is almost tactical light territory, and for people that carry handguns, this is something you want to take into account.
Having the ability to illuminate is one of those things most of us have learned to appreciate the hard way.
In countries like mine, you appreciate it even more. I’ve been in subways when the train broke down (happened again last week, I’ve been told), in underground parking lots when power goes down and they had no emergency light working. Walking back home during blacks outs, I mean, its SO basic to keep a light with you at all times, I just can’t imagine not doing so.

Fenix LD01 Single AAA
I’ve got other lights ordered, the smaller ones might work as good keychain lights. I’ll review them when I get them.

Cell Phone: I was one of those that refused to carry one for as long as possible. Because of jobs, and also because of security, it’s a must have. A good camera to record accidents for the insurance company, photograph faces of criminals, license plates, Am radio to gather news. Get one with a long lasting battery and sturdy construction.

Firearm: Where legal to do so ( or when you prefer to be judged by 12 rather than carried by 6) your gun is like Mastercard, you don’t leave home without it. Depending on your home design, and the people living in it, I’d even pack inside the house.

Glock 19 and at least a spare magazine, Glock in 40 S&W or 357 SIG if you want the little extra stopping power. Your gun should indeed be part of your everyday carry gear.
I don’t want to bore you guys. For most of you this is preaching to the choir.
For those that aren’t still convinced, I’ll tell you one thing: All the items mentioned here, they are all of great use and have been incredibly handy during various small or more serious emergencies, but the one item that saved my life more than once wasn’t the flashlight (as useful as it is)
The fighting folder comes in a close second place, and given the price and legality of carry, if you don’t carry a fighting folder please slap yourself in the head for me. : ^ )
Gun and fighting knife, never had to actually use either one and still… the irony of it all.

Not so distant Future “must haves”

These I already carry in my bag as well. Maybe they are not an essential for you know, but given the world context you may want to reconsider.
Hand Sanitizer: I have one on me all day and use it a lot. So does my wife and now my son is taking one and was drilled on how to use it and when.
Swine flu, or A flu, they seem to be more in vogue and the treat is real. The bug is out there, but around here hepatitis, tuberculosis, and various other respiratory system diseases are very common and take much more lives, so it’s something we’re already used to. Keeping hands clean around here is mandatory, specially when going to public places.
N95 mask: I’ve been carrying one on my bag for some time now. First thought about it when we had the problem here in Buenos Aires with the smoke. Damned smoke made it impossible to breathe for almost a month.
Then I thought about accidents or explosions a la 9-11 where dust and debris made it hard or impossible to breathe.
If that’s not enough, now we have the flu. I carry one and given the way the flu is spreading, we’ll be using them in some of the most crowded places where the disease spreads the most.
A few items work considering.

Any other item you consider essential to have, or at least has proven so in your case? Please share with the group. :)



Dan said...

Which one saved your life more than once? It looks like that part of the post got left out, at least on my screen:
"...but the one item that saved my life more than once wasn’t the flashlight (as useful as it is)
The fighting folder comes in a close second place,..."

FerFAL said...

The gun. drawed several times, never shot, but I have no doubt I would have been hurt or worse otherwise.
Sometihng similar with the knife.
Once in a train with two punks and once during a choke in a fight.


Anonymous said...

How about a really LOUD whistle?
Esp. for the ladies. BLOW it when in trouble - this is espically since it is compact and can wear around your neck concealed under say a t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

A small mace spray is also a good carry item.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention a pen. The classic Bic is a reliable writing instrument that can be used offensively.

GT said...

Hi Folks,

Multi-tools work best for me with the following features:

1) Locking blades, excellent for saving your fingers

2) Changeable tool bits, they are like carrying 12 other tools in one with different screwdriver heads, Torx bits, socket options, etc. Often these are stored in a plastic strip that fits in the sheath. Great for vehicles.

3) When handle is folded over to use as pliers/wire cutter/crimper, etc, blades opening from INSIDE the handle are much more comfortable. Both examples pictured have this design. A user can place extra pressure on the grip for stuck bolts, thick wire, etc. Blades opening from the grip side of the pliers can bruise, even cut, and lower effectiveness.

Good multi-tools are usually money well spent.

Keith C. said...

Simple, non-"tacticool" but useful and always in my pockets or EDC bag:

1. Eye wash. "Single-serving" or a bottle. In the event of debris (think 9/11), you are going *nowhere* and not, if need be, fighting effectively if you have plaster, paper, wood or masonry in your eyes. Irrigate first.

2. A grease pencil. Writes on damn-near anything. Glass, metal, brick, paper, skin. Doesn't run out of ink. Breaking it in half results in 2, not 0. Useful for search & rescue types looking for you "Left at 12:30, heading west. Five in party, one walking but head injury." Useful.

3. Duct tape. Hell, it's *duct tape* :)!! Burns well, makes an improvised bandage, can help seal/reinforce makeshift shelters. Write on it with that grease pencil and leave SOS notes anywhere. I tear it into ~ 3" strips and layer it - peel it off as needed like a Post-It pad.

Munny said...

What do you consider a "fighting knife", as opposed to just a normal knife? I think a true fighting knife would be double edged, but those are a bit less practical and hard to come by.

Anonymous said...

USB stick with scans of important documents on it, as well as software that's useful when the computer you're working with isn't your own, or isn't trusted.