Posted tagged ‘Search And Rescue’

GSARGear Review: HG Solar Pod

March 12, 2012

This is the High Gear SolarPod.

It is a small 5.5V solar panel with a self-contained 3.7V 650mAh Li-ion battery, designed to charge all kinds of phones and gadgets.

Form: A little, stylish orange-and black panel with a carabiner, it’s quite the looker. It feels just a little bit plasticky, but held up fairly well to several days of travel through mountains and swamps.

Function: Charges fully in about 8 hours of strong sunlight, or 4 hours if plugged into a computers USB port.  It features a carabiner to clip onto the outside of a pack, and doesn’t come off even under rough conditions and use.  It has an LED on the front that indicates whether it is charging or discharging, and a set on the back that indicates how full the battery is.
It works fairly well while riding on the outside of a pack to keep your phone or other device charged, but charging from empty takes quite a while(~8 hours).  It comes with a variety of tips, but also has a USB socket port, meaning that you can use just about any type of charger that plugs into a computer. (Apple 30-pin etc) Speaking of which, the Solar Pod does not charge the iPad and similarly sized tablets. It just doesn’t have that much output.  But for GPSs(GPSes? GPSii?) and phones, it works very well.

Cons:
When the charge is getting low on the device, instead of stopping flow, the Solar Pod keeps trying to charge, and losing power, then attempting to charge again.  This  causes the phone to light up and vibrate every time the charging recommences. The point is that it will run down your battery to a level below that of what your phone originally was.  This can be mitigated by regularly checking on the charging status, but can cause a problem if you forget.

All in all, this is a very good little charger. It probably won’t replace your wall-charger, as it doesn’t hold a huge charge or during cloudy weather,  but for emergency power or topping off, it works very well.

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GSARGear Review: Boker Rescom

January 6, 2012

This is the Boker Rescom.

It is a very small, (4.5″ open) light,(2.4oz) simple extrication tool.

Form: The handle is a simple shape, identical to the Subcom lineup. It comes in black and dark red. It has little notches running around the edges and back of the blade for grip, and the handle is covered in a stylish cover of nylon scales. The blade is an angled AUS-8 steel cutter with serrations running the length and ending in a sharp hook. There is a sturdy belt-clip on the back, and a lanyard hole on the tail end of the grip.

Function: The Rescom works very well for its intended purpose: slicing seatbelts. It doesn’t do much else, but it’s small, clips anywhere, and is always handy when you need it. The blade opens very smoothly, the frame-lock is easy to manipulate, and the serrations and hook do their duty without complaint. The thumbstuds are ambidextrous, and the pocket clip is reversible, so you can clip it to a backpack or belt.

Cons: The knife is just a little on the small side, it can be difficult to maintain a grip on and use any force, especially when used with gloves.
In addition, the blade doesn’t feel like it has any kind of coating on it whatsoever, and rusts extremely easily when exposed to sweat, blood or other fluids.

Over all though, this is a great compact tool that stays out of your way until you need it to slice through seatbelts or webbing.

GSARGear Review: Sunwayman M20c

November 21, 2011

 

The Sunwayman M20C R5 is a high-powered, easy-to-use flashlight.
It is powered by two CR123s or a 18650 battery, with excellent output regulation and efficiency.

Use:

The M20c is powered on by your standard tailcap click switch, easy to use with gloves, but is slightly recessed to prevent accidental activation.

The M20c has four light modes with varying runtimes:

280 Lumens (1.5 hours)
50 Lumens (25 hours)
13 Lumens (100 hours)
Strobe mode: 280 Lumens (Untested, due to proctor blindness)

You can cycle through these modes with their unusual “Magnetic Sensor Control” system, a rotating magnetic band near the bezel of the light.

 

The light throws very well, with a smooth beam pattern and decent flood, clearly outlining human figures out past 200 meters.

Dimensions:
Length: 5.24″
Head diameter: 1.26″
Body diameter: 1.0″
Weight: 120g, unloaded

Cons:

My only issue with the light is the smoothness of the handgrip. It can be hard to keep a hold of, especially when covered in blood or oil. This is mitigated somewhat when used with their included tactical ring, but more knurling on the grip would be much appreciated. A flashlight with a tendency to leave your hand can be a major problem in the field.

Other than that, the M20C is an excellent flashlight, and with minor revisions, would be perfectly suited for use in SAR.

 

GSARGear Review: Novatac Storm

June 7, 2011

 

GSARGear Review: Novatac Storm

The Novatac Storm is a very compact and versatile flashlight.

Mine is still running fine after rigorous testing and daily carry for about a year. It is small enough to easily fit in a pocket, bright enough for almost any job you throw at it, and rugged enough to live through just about anything.

Form:

It is manufactured from black anodized aluminium, and covered with small diamond knurling from head to tail. The pocket clip is nice, holding the light securely in a lens-up position. The lens is AR coated polycarbonate, and extremely sturdy. It is also surrounded by a crenelated bezel for protection. The tail clicky is nice, but doesn’t have much travel and is ever so slightly recessed into the tailcap. It makes it possible to tailstand the Storm, but also makes it more difficult to switch the light on, unless you’re holding it in a ‘syringe’ type grip.

It weighs in at approximately 66.8 grams, unloaded, and 83.2 grams with a CR123.

Power:

The Storm runs on one CR123(included) or equivalent. Runtimes can be found here or here,  courtesy of light-reviews.com. Decent runtime overall, and pretty bright.

Use:

The Storm has three settings by default, though it is programmable.

1. A primary mode, at a very bright 120 lumens. ½ hour runtime.

2. A secondary mode, at 30 lumens. 4 hour runtime.

3. Low power mode, 0.3 lumens. 240 hour runtime.

3. And a disorienting/signal Strobe mode.

It is also hackable to program your own brightness and control settings, as shown here.

 

Cons:

Tail-switch difficult to use with gloves or cold fingers.
The tailcap only permits a bezel-up type carry.
Medium-to-low battery life, compared to other similar lights on the market.

But overall, this light is a very nice compact bright flashlight.

GSAR GEAR Review: Inova X5

November 11, 2010

X5

GSAR Gear Review: Inova X5 Flashlight

The Inova X5 is a nearly indestructible LED flashlight. The body of the flashlight is machined into a six-sided cylinder from solid aerospace grade aluminum. It is available in either silver or black. The hard anodizing is extremely durable and has no real scratches or blemishes, even after being put through rigorous use and abuse.  The X5 is also water resistant to IPX4 standards and pretty well crushproof, so there are no worries about it getting wet, dropped, or otherwise beaten-up in the field.

The bezel has five separately drilled holes, providing excellent protection to the Nichia CS LEDs recessed inside.
The run time more than makes up for the cost of the batteries themselves. The light has a decent output and throw(56 lumens and 118 feet, respectively).  It’s pretty bright, but it’s not going to replace a searchlight. But what it lacks in power it makes up for in solidness and sheer unbreakability. It makes a great general purpose light. I would say that the lights advertised 1.75 mile signal visibility is true, and even understated. Simulated missing persons were reportedly able to see it blinking on top of a small mountain from 2+ miles away.

Power:

The X5 runs on two CR123A batteries. They’re widely available camera batteries which are fairly expensive($1-$2 apiece), but are much longer lasting and provide more power than AAs.

Inova X5
Use:

The X5 has an interesting interface.  It has three modes:
1. A momentary-on, which is used by pushing the tailcap in.

2. A constant-on, which is reached by twisting the tailcap.

3. Lock-out mode, which is reached by twisting  the tailcap 360° this disables the momentary-on, so you can throw the X5 in a pack or a pouch and not worry about it turning on by itself.

Cons:

One of the things I would’ve liked to see was a removable pocket clip. And although you can use a pouch or a lanyard,  a clip would have really been a nice addition.

 

Overall, after several months of hard use, I can say that this is really a great rugged general purpose SAR flashlight.

 

 

 

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GSARGear Review: M-16 Zytel

September 23, 2010


My CRKT M16 after two years of constant use

GSAR GEAR Review:CRKT M16-12Z

The CRKT M16 is really an impressive knife.
I have carried and used mine for 2 years now and it is still working like new.

Form:

It comes in two colors(black and safety orange), and two blade variations: A straight razor-edge, and a combo edge(M-16-12Z).
The combo edged M-16 comes with a 3 inch, AUS 4, tanto point blade with an inch of serrations near the handle. The handles are made of durable Zytel® over a stainless steel frame.

Function:

Although it is not spring assisted, it is fast and easy to open one handed, utilizing a flipper nub on the back.
It also has an automatic double locking mechanism, which takes a little getting used to at first but once you get the hang of it, it turns out to be quite safe and pleasant to work with.
The serrations on the combo blade are excellent for cutting through cord, webbing, seatbelts, and pretty much anything else you come across. The frame and handle are very well fitted, and the knife feels quite solid and comfortable in your hand.

Cons:

The Teflon® coated steel pocket clip only lasted me about a year before too much use made it loosen and widen the screw holes, but CRKT has a great warranty and is willing to replace the parts for free. Also be aware that the steel frame tends to accumulate surface rust if not oiled periodically and kept in a pocket for extended periods of time in hot, humid, sweaty weather. This is easily fixed with very fine steel wool and some oil.

My CRKT M-16 after two years of constant hard use.

When you pick this knife up you can feel the solid heft to it, but it is not too heavy to carry, even in gym shorts.

Overview:

This is not the shiniest, prettiest or coolest-looking knife around. It is a robust, sharp, hard-use knife that performs well in SAR use or just day-to-day work.

Highly recommended.

GSARGear Review: Windstorm Whistle

August 5, 2010

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GSAR Gear Review: WindStorm Whistle

A whistle is a critical piece of equipment to have on a search. It is invaluable for sound sweeps, controlling large search lines, contact between teams, signaling in emergencies, and any number of other uses. In my opinion, the WindStorm is the best whistle on the market for use in SAR. In comparison to the standard wood/aluminum ball whistles, it is noticably louder,(103 dB vs the standard ~90)

The company’s website makes several claims, such as the Windstorm works when wet and even underwater. I can vouch for that, as I tested it in a lake and was surprised at how loud it actually was underwater. This is not only a good thing for rescue divers and swift-water rescue specialists, but also for ground search personnel as it has no loose ball in it to swell up and not work if it gets wet in the field.

The manufacturers also claim that their whistles are the loudest in the world. While many companies claim this, the loudness of the WindStorm whistle was derived in a sound proof chamber by a research team at the Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri.  The decibel reading varied between 103 and 106 dB, well above any other commercial whistle to date.

The Windstorm is made out of high-impact, non-corroding thermoplastic and is really pretty solid. The seams are well-fit, and show no sign of cracking even after a years worth of heavy use.

Pros:
Extremely loud.
Works underwater and when wet.
Comes in high visibility colors.
Relatively cheap

Cons:
A little larger than your standard, but very much worth the bulk.

Over all I believe this is a great whistle, and I would highly recommend it to anyone going on a GSAR mission, training exercises, or just out hiking in the woods. This whistle is fairly cheap, under $7, and can be picked up almost anywhere outdoor supplies are sold, so there’s really no excuse to not upgrade.

-GSAR GEAR 2010

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