Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friend or Foe?

How do you tell the difference under low light or no light conditions? How do you prevent a catastrophic incident due to misidentification? Through the use of effective signaling, both passive and active, the chances of incidents like this can be reduced if not prevented.

Passive means include items like IR flags, squares, unit patches, ID patches, etc. Active means include items like this week's product of the week: The Neptune Beacon from CEJAY Engineering. Designed to fill a number of roles in order to reduce the overall load today's warrior has to carry in order to complete the mission at hand.

Information from the manufacturer:

The Neptune beacon is a multi purpose multi function signal light developed to provide the soldier and officer several ID and illumination tools in one compact package. The Neptune light produces a wide, variable-output, flashing or constant on, IR, Blue or White signal. In flashing IR mode, the intense brightness of the Neptune’s signal allows it to be used as either an individual or vehicle Combat ID marker. In Blue or White signal mode, the beacon can be used as either a land or water distress signal.

The Neptune high impact plastic housing and sealed electronics are engineered to withstand harsh environments and chemical exposure. Powered by one CR123A, the Neptune is lightweight, rugged, versatile and submersible to 150 feet making the beacon superbly suited for water to land deployment and special operations applications.

Despite its small size, all Neptune functions can be controlled with one hand even when gloved. The Neptune’s signal is turned ON or OFF simply by rotating the battery cap. The single mode selection button allows the user to select light color and move between flashing or constant on signal mode. Brightness level can also be adjusted in constant on mode, making the light useful as either a signaling device or lamp.

The Neptune can be attached to PALS webbing, belts, or uniform by using the supplied locking spring clip or wrist mounted with the included wrist strap. The light can also be used with optional head/helmet strap for use as a headlamp.


Weight: 76 Grams | 2.7 Ounce (with battery)
Size: 49mm x 27mm | 1.9" x 1.06"
Flash Mode: Constant ON with Brightness Control | Fixed Flash
Signal: IR, White, Blue LED
Battery: One CR123A
Coverage: 360 degrees x 180 degrees
Switching: Rotate Battery Cap and Mode Switch
Operating Life: 100 Hours in Flashing signal mode | 8 Hours at maximum brightness in Constant ON signal mode
Environmental: Waterproof 150 feet
Options: Neptune Signal Light (902900)

Personal experience:

When I met with Steven Bronson of CEJAY in January of this year at SHOT Show and saw the Neptune I was immediately interested. The Neptune offered all the functionality of the current beacon that I was using (IR, White, Blue flash) with the addition of the constant on and the ability to dim. As well, by using the individual LEDs for each light as opposed to a filter this eliminated white light bleed around the filter. The few full size beacons I had in my inventory from Iraq had all been taped up around the joints of the filter to prevent any white light bleed, functionally preventing easy transition from IR to white/blue. Not to mention the reduction in bulk by going to the Neptune.

While all that seemed great I was still somewhat cautious with using a new unit and even more cautious about recommending this new design to customers and colleagues. Shortly after SHOT I got signed up with CEJAY as a dealer and purchased a small number of Neptunes, integrating them into my training gear and putting them out to some colleagues for evaluation in a variety of conditions. After approximately three months of use in a variety of applications primarily attached to the body armor of full time instructors and combat developers I felt comfortable recommending them.

The unit that I retained for my personal use started life off in a container of water and placed in the on position (blue flash mode) and left in water until the battery died somewhere between day five and six, slightly longer than the rated 100 hours. The unit was removed from the water and exterior dried, battery compartment opened and found to be completely dry. Examination revealed no moisture under lens and battery was replaced revealing normal operation. After this test the unit was attached to my primary plate carrier via a short MALICE Clip (see photos below). While I do like the ability to move the Neptune around with the locking clip, the MALICE Clip offers a more permanent mounting option.

The most recent use of this light was at an EAG/Pat Rogers class in Alliance Ohio where we ran through shoot house evolutions in low light conditions. Myself and my partner ran Neptunes on the rear of our vests in order to identify ourselves to each other and the instructors and safety officers while moving through class. While other students used chem lights which were functional for this application the Neptune offered a reusable and multipurpose solution to this requirement as well as many others such as functioning under NVGs.

A few pics:

Wrist band:
From Blog album

Wrist band in use:
From Blog album

From Blog album

From Blog album

MALICE Clip in use:
From Blog album

In addition to identification this light is optimally setup as an emergency signaling beacon. As well, for those that may not need the IR function a training model is available with the same specifications except that the IR LED is replaced with a visible red spectrum LED making it even more well suited for backpackers, adventurers, and the like.

Check back in the next few days, I will be adding these to the website and uploading a video explaining the various functions of the Neptune.

That is all for tonight,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Size Matters...

...And bigger isn't always better. Especially when it comes to gear for remote/tactical/austere/etc work. Smaller, more durable, lighter, etc are the characteristics professional adventurers are looking for.

This weeks product of the week lives up to the word compact. The Pocket BVM (manufactured by MicroBVM Systems Ltd.) is an adult Bag Valve Mask that is comparable in size to a couple of combat dressings (H Bandage or OLAES Bandage). Back in the day I would take whatever BVM I could find at a reasonable price and vacuum seal it. This worked OK but had a serious memory effect on the material which left you with about half of the tidal volume that the bag started out with, and often hampered 'bounce back' or reinflation after each respiration. It was an imperfect solution at best but it was what we had 'back in the day'. Now with the medical industry actually interested in providers working outside of the hospital and even the urban street we are starting to see equipment that doesnt take up so much space, and some of it is actually getting lighter.

Some info from the manufacturer:

The Pocket BVM TM is Ideal for various emergency and clinical settings where resuscitation and breathing support to the respiratory distressed or non-breathing patient is required along side the space factor.
The Pocket BVM TM when packaged is a pocket sized fully functional BVM.
The Pocket BVM TM will replace any standard BVM by maintaining all the standard working factors and operation possibilities and will improve the use effectiveness by adding the accessibility, availability and last but not least maximize limited storage space by up to 75%.
The Pocket BVM TM advantages and capabilities
  • Up to 75% cube space reduction, space efficient
  • Textured grip to prevent slippage
  • Single Use eliminates cross contamination
  • Superior resistance to high/low temperature unaffecting bag re-expansion
  • An Endotracheal Tube can be connected to the Resuscitator
  • Deflector, see through mask
  • Peep valve adaptor can be attached
  • Ergonomic cushioned mask design fits securely to facial contours
  • Includes Bag, mask, patient valve, reservoir bag, inlet for oxygen drive line
  • Two independent Inlet Valves, The Resuscitator has two independent inlets, one for air, and the other for oxygen. When the Resuscitator is attached to an oxygen supply, it enables to Oxygen the patient.
  • The Pocket BVM TM is easy to use, without operational fatigue, it requires minimum pressure to be compressed and, due to its design, quickly recovers its shape, so as not to cause operational fatigue, even after extended continuous use.
    The Pocket BVM TM can be folded compactly to fit a small storage case.
  • The Pocket BVM TM Manual Resuscitators has enhanced performance and reliability. All equipment complies with the Safety Standards

While I have had this product for some time and been playing with one I dedicated as a demo I have been pleased with the durability. The case is not super tough but at the same time isnt over engineered thus adding unnecessary weight. Outside of the compactness the function is pretty standard of a BVM. It does not include an O2 hose, the green tubing is simply and O2 connection. In order to run O2 to this BVM you would need a double ended push fit section of O2 tubing. To me, this is a major issue as the times I will be using this I will most likely not be carrying an O2 tank and if I am I can spare an extra ounce for the extension tubing.

The valve to mask interface uses standard airway fittings, allowing you to connect to any standard airway device such as an ET Tube, King Tube, Combi-Tube, Trach, etc as well as any standard mask. Although, I have been very happy so far with the mas that is provided. It is flexible and gives good compliance as best I have been able to assess on manikins and living tissue. I have yet to have the opportunity to try one on a respiratory or cardiac arrest patient for myself. Considering that I have swapped out all my old vacuum sealed BVMs for the Pocket BVM, should the need arise (and hopefully it doesnt) I will be able to offer a report back on the function.

And no review would be complete without a few pics:

From Blog album

Diameter at the widest point (the outer ring of the case) is right at 5.25".

From Blog album

Thickness measures in at 2.5".

From Blog album

In comparison to a large OLAES Bandage.

From Blog album

Each component shown comes packed in the case, Mask-Valve-Bag-Reservoir.

From Blog album

In use with the included mask.

From Blog album

In use with a standard ET Tube.

In conclusion, if you need a compact BVM for your remote med bag check out the Pocket BVM from Micro BVM.

Where to get them:

Pocket BVM/Micro BVM now available at Austere Provisions Company

Before I sign off...

It has been a few weeks since a post, hopefully that will not be a trend. In the months leading up to SHOT everyone, including myself are working to get projects done in time for release early next year. I am looking to get out in the field and get some testing done on some survival gear and have an extensive list of tactical training planned for this fall and next year. So look for some great reviews as well as some AARs which I will be posting so customers, friends, and colleagues can keep up with our activities.

Anyway, that is all for tonight, stay sharp,


Sunday, August 22, 2010

When you need a Trauma Kit....

You need it NOW.

This weeks Product of the Week is the Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit Now. Since it's release this design has interested me for a number of reasons. The pouch is based on two piece concept which we initially saw in tear off and cable release pouches. Downsides to these are that they are higher profile due to the multiple layers of material required to support the hook/loop attachment system. Some of these pouches are very good, and I have used a number of these but the thickness and protrusion from your armor has to be accounted for when setting your gear up. The Trauma Kit Now (TKN) functions on an insert and pouch concept where the removable portion that carries your med gear simply slides into a fitted pouch. This reduces overall bulk as well as ease of access as it takes minimal strength (as you may see in an injured arm) to slide the insert out vs. overcoming a large panel of hook/loop.

Another feature I particularly like about the TKN is the insert design. As opposed to simply making it a pull out pouch it is setup almost like a nylon surgical tray allowing me to lay it on or next to a patient and work from the 'tray' as opposed to setting off the med kit grenade that is seen in some kits where you have to pull 'this' out in order to get to 'that'. Everything is exposed and easily accessed once the tray or insert is pulled out.

So let's hear the manufacturers details:

Blue Force Gear redefines the commonplace first aid kit with the fastest one-handed trauma kit ever - the Trauma Kit NOW!™ Reach for the tab of Trauma Kit NOW! ™ and receive instant access to life-saving supplies even with an injured hand. Tapered carrier design allows the insert to clear the pouch regardless of how full the kit may be. Top of pouch has MOLLE webbing for attaching a Benchmade™ Rescue hook, Trauma Shears, or one of our Tourniquet NOW Strap™ tourniquet holders (available separately). Pouch flap has a Velcro loop field for medical ID patches.
Supplies not included.

Life Time Warranty!

Here is a few pics of one I have setup on a chest rig:

From Blog album

The MOLLE footprint for this pouch is 3 columns by 3 rows. Actual footprint, seam to seam, is 4.5w x 6.5h.

From Blog album

Pouch footprint.

From Blog album

Insert removed. (shown with TMS MED patch and TQN Strap, not included). Insert velcroes closed to allow it to be removed from a vest or belt and tossed in a pack or tossed to an injured team mate without loss of supplies.

From Blog album

Once the insert is opened all equipment is easily accessible, to the point that multiple providers could work from a single insert on the same patient.

From Blog album

Insert show empty.

In conclusion, I really like this pouch for both self-aid/buddy-aid setups as well as setup for medic-aid either carrying one or multiples on the medic's second line or as rapid treatment kits on the exterior of a med pack. As well, this pouch easily holds both the APC Comprehensive Trauma Kit built for LMS Defense and the APC IC3 Med Kit.

Where to get it:

Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit Now available at Austere Provisions

Until next time, stay sharp,


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As you may have seen mention in last weeks post I spent a good bit of time in June and July training. One of the courses that I attended was the LMS Defense No Light Operations course in Alliance, OH. While there I had the opportunity to check out some new and not so new gear from industry developers including Stephen Hilliard and Pat Rogers. Stephen works for Blue Force Gear and while talking between evolutions I had a chance to discuss with him the Ten Speed series of pouches. These have been out for a few years and the line has been growing to meet a wider array of end user's needs. While the idea of a multipurpose, low profile, and light weight pouch intrigued me I had obvious concerns about the durability of such a product.

So let's take a look at these things, from the manufacturer's website:

Our Ten-Speed Mag Pouch™ works from the premise that a magazine pouch should have excellent, consistent retention without a lot of securing straps, lids, or flaps to get in the way of a smooth, consistent reload. When not in use, the pouch is designed to lay flat against your vest or carrier so that it is completely discrete and unobtrusive. Primarily intended for personnel performing fast, short duration operations where speed and a low profile are paramount. Due to the use of high performance materials, the Ten Speed Pouch is also extremely lightweight registering barely three ounces on the scale. Not limited to magazines, it will also securely hold some types of Flash Bangs, Strobes, Lights, etc. Attaching to any MOLLE/PALS surface, its use is only limited by your imagination. The Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Pouch™ is made out of military-grade heavy duty elastic and Cordura fabric/webbing right here in Georgia.

During class a number of students used the Ten Speed M4 pouch to hold M4 mags but also to hold other items such as trauma kit contents, radios, flashlights, and flash bangs. While some may be thinking, "yeah, and..., I can do that with a standard triple M4 pouch". My response to that is, when you dont need to carry anything in that triple M4 pouch you now have a bulky pile of cordura sitting there that will easily get caught on any obstruction it can find when moving through a structure or in brush, not to mention the weight whereas the Ten Speed pouches are elastic based they tighten up and lay flat when not in use reducing the overall profile of your gear and they are quite trim on the weight side (weights of Ten Speed M4 Pouches: Single-1.4oz, Double-2.7oz, Triple-3.2oz).

As someone who appreciates modularity in a pouch (or most anything) the Ten Speed Series gets my vote since it offers a relatively secure package that can handle small or large items without having to spend your evening weaving MOLLE/PALS to prep for a class or a mission that has different requirements from normal gear setup. As well, for me a big benefit of this series is the ability to stash a Ten Speed Triple M4 on the back of my vest and have the ability to run my rig in more of a traditional shooters platform sans med pack and should I need to transition back to a med pack or ruck I can simply remove the contents whether they be mags, smoke, or bangs and there is no unnecessary bulk under my pack that would increase profile. To me it is a win-win.

While all of these things were positives and points I had already evaluated I had not had the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate extended use of the pouches. Having a chance to talk to Pat and look over his gear which included Ten Speed Pouches I was pleasantly surprised to see that while well worn the materials and craftsmanship had held up and continued to have quite a bit of life left in them, even after years of regular use (by my accounting Pat averages 4-6 blocks of instruction a month which equals a good bit of time in gear). This shouldnt be a surprise though as just with all Blue Force Gear the Ten Speed series is all Made In The USA with domestic components and while the price may be slightly higher than some of the options available at your local discount surplus store you wont be able to find a comparable design or execution from any of the knock off brands.

So after all that, I decided to pick a few of these up and stick them on some gear to get a feel for how best to integrate them. The one shown below is a triple that I have placed on my primary med bag. This bag is setup as an assaulter's med bag, the intent is to have a relatively low profile with the primary capability of treating and stabilizing life threatening injuries in a warm zone environment prior to moving to a cold zone or CCP where more definitive support equipment can be staged. For that reason the Ten Speed Triple works perfectly to plus up the fire superiority component of care under fire and allow me to carry extra mags, smoke, or bangs that either I can use through removal of the pack or team mates can use by working off my pack and me working off their pack or vest.

From Blog album

Extra Bullets

From Blog album

Or Extra "Band-aids"

So, if you need a lightweight and low-profile/low-bulk solution to carrying your fighting load take a look at the Ten Speed series of pouches.

Where to get them:
Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Triple M4 Mag Pouches at Austere Provisions Company

Look for more offerings of Blue Force Gear products at Austere Provisions Company, BFG is making a solid product with solid designs and putting Americans to work. I personally take pride in carrying such a product and supporting such a company and I believe the customers of Austere Provisions Company feel the same way.

So, until next time, stay sharp and stay safe,


Honorable Mentions: (Look for these more often)

Friday, July 30, 2010

We're Back...

After no posts for a few weeks we are back. Since the beginning of July I (Mike) have been on the road taking classes to freshen up on skills as well as get the opportunity to work through some new concepts and network with some industry partners. To start I ran up to Alliance, OH to attend the LMS Defense No Light course and function as med support as well as cover some of the logistical support. This class was great on many levels considering I had the opportunity to get back together with my buds from LMS, meet Pat Rogers of EAG Tactical, train and network with both Stephen Hilliard from Blue Force Gear, and Clint L. from FNH, not to mention the guys from APD who were stellar hosts and tacticians. Formal AARs are available here and here (requires registration, make sure to follow instructions about posting an intro). Note: The hack for carrying chemlights on a grenade ring shown in a previous post proved to not be a solid concept. As I mentioned in the post this was untested, we tested this during class and consistently lost chemlights. I have moved to carrying mine in the elastic loops of an EAG Tactical Dump Pouch, works great.

Once class was over in Ohio I headed home to do a bit of laundry, grade some tests and head off to my part time teaching job at a local Paramedic program. Once laundry was done and I had enjoyed a few days with my family I hopped on a plane to Reno, NV to attend Firearms Instructor Development at the LMS Defense Combat Development Center located just up the road in Fernley, NV. An excellent course with a great group of warriors and the opportunity to play with some hardware while updating our software. AARs available here and here. After finishing up Instructor Dev I stuck around to help teach the Low Light course running Saturday and Sunday. The class was filled with a great group of students. The first evening was made rather "sporting" by a pretty solid dust storm rolling in but everyone endured with an even greater appreciation for full light/full visibility shooting environments. The rest of the evening and the following night presented perfect weather for a solid class. The AAR for Low Light can be found here. So after a couple hours of cleaning and packing gear and a few minutes of shuteye it was time to get back on a plane (or three) and head home in time to grade a few more tests and teach some classes.

On to this weeks Product Of The Week...

For some time now I have been working on finding a way to better streamline my gear as well as set it up in a graduated or scalable manner. Rationale being that I dont always need "everything", meaning not all training or operational missions require a complete belt rig, plate carrier/vest/chest rig, and assault pack/assaulters med ruck/etc and setting up each component so that I have a little bit of the essentials on each line allows me to tailor my gear to the mission. For a good bit of time there was no good solution for carrying med gear on your first line. When in Iraq I usually just tossed a dressing of some sort, a tourniquet, a nasal, and a decompression needle in a cargo pocket and pressed on. It wasnt comfortable, it was bulky, and routinely caught on things when getting in and out of vehicles or crawling into the access hatches of OP/LPs. After not using a battle belt for quite some time I recently went back to using one as the designs have come a long way in the last few years. I opted for the Blue Force Gear SOC-C Modular Padded Belt Kit. I chose this kit for a number of reasons, the company is solid, it is completely American Made, it is well thought out, and gives the user the option of adding armor for added protection.

Once I got my belt setup to carry bullets I started looking at options for carrying "bandaids" (med gear). Initially I dug out an old GPS pouch and stuffed a SWAT-T and Primed gauze in it and used that. After looking at designing a 1st line med pouch I decided to order a couple of Blue Force Gear Boo Boo Pouches to see what they would hold for trauma gear. Turns out they are sized just right for a wrap TQ and some form of packing material, whether it be Primed gauze or QuikClot Combat Gauze.

Here is a few pics:

From Blog album

Pouch only

From Blog album

Pouch with Primed Gauze and SWAT-T

From Blog album

Pouch with Primed Gauze and TK-4 (TK-4L also fits)

From Blog album

Pouch mounted on Blue Force Gear SOC-C belt, this one is mine and is packed with a SWAT-T and QC Combat Gauze.

So why did I do this and what are the benefits: I can ditch my armor and keep my belt rig on either while in a secure area or while running drills where armor is not necessary and may hamper the learning process but I can maintain a minimum of med gear. Just enough to stop a major bleeder until I can either get to my med pack or my vest or until a buddy can get reinforcements to me. As well, distributing gear across your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines allows for better distribution and prevents one line of gear from becoming overly cumbersome.

Where to get these pouches:

Blue Force Gear Boo Boo Kit Pouch at Austere Provisions Company

That is all for this week, got a couple of new items in plan to do detailed reviews on some established items in the next few weeks. Looking forward to it. Until next time, stay sharp, stay safe,


Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Before we get into product of the week I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a happy 4th of July. I hope everyone took a moment to remember just what the 4th is all about and that we all have a lot to be thankful for because we (the Americans in the audience at least) could be living in a very different country and world had certain individuals not stood up against the strongest country of the time and said NO MORE! As well, a big thanks to all the vets out there who have worked so hard to maintain the security of what our forefathers put in place.

So, onto the product of the week:

When you need a tourniquet...

You need it NOW! That is where the name came from for the Tourniquet NOW! Strap from Blue Force Gear. For years I have resisted the urge to use a dedicated holder for my TQs and always opted to stash them on retention straps for tear off med pouches or to simply rubber band them into the MOLLE on my vests, plate carriers, or packs. At SHOT this year I got a chance to play with a number of Blue Force Gear products and really liked the new additions to the line. I have been using BFG slings for years and they have always held up no matter what the application from training to deployments. Couple that with the fact that all products with the Blue Force Gear name on them are made right here in The USA and it is hard to go wrong.

I recently added Blue Force Gear to the line up here at Austere Provisions Company and as usual I made a starter order of products that I wanted to try out based on industry feedback as well as personal interest. The Tourniquet Now! Strap was one of those starter items and I have been playing around with it and have been very pleased with both the durability and how much more low profile of a solution it is over my long standing rubber band technique.

Let's see what BFG has to say about it and then we can get into some more details...

Our Tourniquet NOW! Strap is an easily attached adapter that securely mounts a tourniquet or similar sized object to any MOLLE surface for instant access. Bands can be used in two different configurations to fit currently available combat tourniquets.

Short, sweet, and to the point. Some more details. The strap is made with a polymer stiffener to create a firm foundation that simply slides into MOLLE loops allowing elastic bands to stick out between the rows of MOLLE.

Here is a pic of the strap not in MOLLE:
From Blog album

Here is a comparison shot with my more traditional method of securing.
From Blog album

An important factor in preventing these from coming loose in either securing method is placement on your gear. Ideally you would place these up on your chest where they are both easily reached in the event you need the tourniquet as well as are slightly more protected than down on the lower trunk section of gear. I kept TQs strapped to my chest my entire time in Iraq and never had one come loose unless I was pulling it off to put it to use. Now I have heard of a single report of a SOFT-T coming loose from a Tourniquet Now! Strap, I think this can be avoided with good placement and giving a glance over your gear before go time to make sure everything is tight and right.

To reduce the profile of the SOFT-T on my vest I fold it so that the clasp mechanism is offset to one end and tuck the windlass retainers under the windlass. This reduces the possibility of things get caught on the TQ iteself. As well I turn the clasp towards the vest so it is not sticking out further reducing the likelihood that it would catch on anything during movement. Here is a more detailed shot of what I feel is a solid placement and packaging:
From Blog album

So, where to get this thing:

Blue Force Gear Tourniquet NOW! Strap available at Austere Provisions Company

Until next week, stay sharp and stay safe,


Friday, June 25, 2010

Safe Light...

And a new hack.

After a few weeks of absence taking care of a few new projects and getting settled back in after the LMS Defense Customer Appreciation Weekend (check AAR Here) it is good to finally be putting up another product of the week.

This weeks product is AmeriGlo Light Sticks. An obvious addition to our Low Light segment of products, providing users with a safe, cool to the touch, disposable light source for direct illumination of an area or for signaling in various ways.

A little information from the manufacturer:

Our most popular item! AmeriGlo's 6" light stick is always individually foil wrapped to insure bright and dependable light when needed.

Used by military, law enforcement, paramedics, campers, hikers, scouts, utility companies, hotels, schools, boaters, and well-prepared individuals. Emergency personnel and troops alike prefer AmeriGlo light sticks for its versatility in the field, using this special locking hook.

Color Specific information from the manufacturer:

Green is the brightest color in the 12-hour product category. The 6" green light stick provides adequate light for a standard-sized hotel room (or household bedroom) for 12 hours.

Yellow is the 2nd brightest color in the 12-hour product category. The 6" yellow light stick is ideal for illumination, marking, and signaling.

Red is often used in training exercises when many colors are needed. Red is also a 'stop/warning' indicator.

The infrared light stick can only be seen (in its glowing state) via certain grades of night vision devices. The AmeriGlo IR stick has special raised bumps (patent pending) on the stick's housing, allowing the end-user to quickly and safely distinguish the IR stick from a visible spectrum colored light stick prior to activation. This unique feature can be a life-saver in covert operations

While AmeriGlo makes a wide variety of colors and sizes of light sticks we have opted to start with the most popular colors field use which also happen to be the colors (visible light sticks) used for triage during mass casualty incidents, so these can pull double duty for our customers that are First Responders and looking for a light source or signaling capability for an aid bag. The IR light sticks are something that have been requested by a number of our customers for training and operational use under night vision, for those not familiar you must have a night vision device to observe light produced by the IR light sticks.

In a market where numerous companies produce a similar product it is the fine details that stand out and make a single product lead the pack. AmeriGlo and their light sticks are that product. Details such as the following are why we choose AmeriGlo:

-Small latching hook at tip of light stick for clipping onto gear
-Innovative product development such as stippling on IR light sticks for tactile identification under light discipline
-Durable packaging to increase shelf life
-Consistent product
-Ease of interaction and customer service

A few photos of the light sticks:

Visible colors
From Blog album

IR (should have an adapter for my DSLR soon to shoot with my PVS-14 and get some good low light shots)
From Blog album

Latching Hook:
From Blog album

Solid Loop:
From Blog album

And of course I mentioned in the intro that I had a new hack this week. For a long time guys have been carrying light sticks on their tac gear, now I dont want to go into too much detail about the why but while playing around with shooting photos today I found what may be a solid new way to carry these for rapid deployment. A little background on the motivation: I am always trying to streamline my kit by reducing weight, bulk, and anything that can catch the environment around me when training or working. Anytime in the past that I have carried light sticks on my vest for quick deployment I have hung them off a carabiner through a loop of 550 cord or if I was using another model of light stick I had to tie 550 cord through the enclosed loop of the light stick and I just clipped the cord loop into the carabiner. Not liking the carabiner because of the bulk and the likelihood of it snagging on something I have looked for a better solution. Today while setting up a photo I decided to clip some of the light sticks into a grenade pull ring and then clip into the biner. Looking at the system the biner suddenly seemed unnecessary and I pondered other ways of attaching it to a section of MOLLE on my vest.

I ended up coming up with the idea to simply use a small section of 550 cord to larks foot around the pull ring and then larks foot around the MOLLE. This created a low profile, stowable clip in point for my light sticks that was less likely to catch on stuff, quieter, smaller, lighter, and all around cool. Below is a setup guide on how to put this together since my ability to paint a picture with words may not have been sufficient:

Take a pull ring and larks foot a section of 550 cord through it. I found that a 13-14" piece of non gutted 550 is just long enough to complete both larks foots and minimize excess. You could probably make it shorter if you gutted it.
From Blog album

Slide the 550 cord through a section of MOLLE (shown on clear section of MOLLE)
From Blog album

And larks foot around the MOLLE (I stowed the knot behind the webbing, photo may be slightly deceiving):
From Blog album

Hang your light sticks:
From Blog album

I like to hang mine between pouches that have a small gap so that they dont bang around as much (reduce profile, noise, and possible loss) so you perform the same technique on an occupied section of MOLLE between the pouches:
From Blog album

End Result:
From Blog album

Another Angle:
From Blog album

As I said before, I literally just came up with this today so it will take some time on the range and in the shoot house to vet but it may be a solid solution to streamlining and cutting ounces from your gear. Not to mention pull rings are cheap as long as you have a source for them ;-).

Where to buy this stuff, huh? Right here:

AmeriGlo 6" Light Sticks in visible spectrum colors (Red, Yellow, Green) at Austere Provisions Company

AmeriGlo 6" Light Sticks in InfraRed spectrum at Austere Provisions Company

That's all for this week, stay sharp, stay safe,


Monday, June 7, 2010

No product of the week this week

We are busily packing gear up to head out to Fernley Nevada to the LMS Defense Combat Development Center (CDC) to attend the Customer Appreciation Weekend. We will be closing up shop on Wednesday June 9th at 1600 and reopening on Tuesday June 15th at 0800. If you have an urgent gear need, drop us a line at 540-632-2272 or by email (preferred) at and we will do whatever we can to help get you squared away in our absence.

While we are away we plan to get some good shots of gear in use so check back here next week for some new photos of your favorite gear being run through the sand and scrub brush.

Until next week, stay sharp and stay safe,


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Take a moment

And say thank you for all that you have and remember today, Memorial Day, is a day for those that paid the ultimate price for freedom so that the rest of us could enjoy the liberties we have. No matter your opinions on the direction this country is headed or where you would like to see it go remember that life would be very much different if it wasnt for those individuals that laid there life down for all of us.

In addition to being a day of remembrance, Memorial Day indicates the beginning of summer and while hydration is important any time of the year when you are working at max output it becomes particularly important when the heat gets cranked up. At Austere Provisions Company we have a few tools to help you stay hydrated and mission effective. One of those is the product of the week: Vitalyte ERS (Electrolyte Replacement Solution).

Vitalyte is one of those longstanding favorites of mine (Mike) that I have been using for years, since it was called Gookinaid. The first time I used this stuff was on my first trip to Central America where I participated in a 15 day expedition medicine course. I landed on training day zero and started that night. I knew ahead of time that hydration would be an issue as I would be well into the class by the time I was starting to acclimate, it didn't help things that I was coming from the mountains of Virginia in January and the difference in temperature was 60-70 degrees. Knowing that I packed plenty of Gookinaid and water bottles. I kept myself to a strict hydration plan of basically keeping a water bottle within arms reach at all times and to constantly sip while at rest, prehydrate before heading to the field, and get a few gulps in on a regular basis when on the move. I stayed on a cycle of two liters of plain water to one liter of Gookinaid and I stayed well hydrated that entire trip.

It was only after that trip where I got lax during other training episodes where I ever really had issues with dehydration and when I really found Vitalyte/Gookinaid to be a lifesaver. Vitalyte has all the good for you stuff in it but doesnt taste like punishment while not having so much sugar in it that you slow hydration or worse. Vitalyte contains a balanced amount of sodium and potassium with a touch of glucose to help move things from the gut into the bloodstream, all of this in an isotonic mixture so your body doesnt have to flood your gut with water to dilute it down like some "sports" drinks. On top of all that goodness you have the option of four great flavors: Fruit Punch, Zesty Orange, Natural Lemonade, or Cool Citrus. My personal favorites are the Zesty Orange and Natural Lemonade.

Anyway, enough of my science lesson let's look at what the manufacturer has to say:

Electrolytes are essential in the hydration equation. Whether you're an athlete, weekend warrior or outdoor enthusiast; sick, pregnant, traveling or just hung-over, you'll need something to combat dehydration. Enter Vitalyte™: a straightforward, simple electrolyte drink that replaces fluids, electrolytes and Vitamin C lost with dehydration.

Vitalytes electrolyte formula hydrates, replenishes, energizes and revitalizes, all while maintaining that perfect electrolyte balance of the four core electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. We pay special attention to the dynamic duo: sodium and potassium since these are the first two minerals lost and play the leading role in hydration. Our sodium/potassium balance is the ideal marriage for hydrating thirsty bodies with exactly what they need and nothing they don't. Not too much sodium, not too little potassium and the optimal amounts of calcium and magnesium. And because Vitalyte is made almost entirely of glucose - the only sugar that doesn't have to be digested - it's isotonic which means that it matches to the body's fluids that are being absorbed directly from the stomach into the blood, similar to an IV.

Rapid and effective, Vitalyte has no "extra" unnecessary ingredients to slow you down. Your blood volume increases, your energy is replenished and your thirst is conquered. It's that simple... electrolytes replacing electrolytes. Period. We've done the research. We've done the math. And we feel that we've created the perfect formula for hydration. It's up to you what to do next.

So, if you are a man (or woman) of action and need a hydration solution that can keep up with you, we believe that Vitalyte is the answer. As you may have read earlier, I said I had been using Vitalyte since it was Gookinaid. One of the nice things about the rebranding was that it brought about new sizes to suit your needs, everything from the stick packs to the original quart size up to the kilo size for hydrating a team or class.

Since I know you all love pics, here's a few:

From Product Releases


From Product Releases


From Blog album


Where to get it? You know the deal...

Vitalyte Stick Packs in Flavorful Fruit Punch, Zesty Orange, Natural Lemonade, or Cool Citrus at Austere Provisions Company

Vitalyte Quart Packs in Flavorful Fruit Punch, Zesty Orange, Natural Lemonade, or Cool Citrus at Austere Provisions Company

Vitalyte Kilo Cans in Flavorful Fruit Punch, Zesty Orange, Natural Lemonade, or Cool Citrus at Austere Provisions Company

That's all for this week, stay hydrated, stay sharp, and stay safe,


Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's in the bag...

Or in this case the container, The SUMA Container that is. This weeks product of the week is The SUMA Container from Fastfire, a division of SOLKOA.

Some of you may be thinking to yourself, as you often do when reading the APC Blog, "self, SUMA seems like an odd name, I wonder if it means anything?" You would be correct, it stands for SOLKOA's Ultralight Multi-purpose Aluminum container.

From Blog album

So let's see what the manufacturer has to say about this thing:

Solkoa's Ultralight Multi-purpose Aluminum container is engineered to withstand the worst of conditions and to be used for multiple purposes. Designed for the minimalist, the ultra-lightweight enclosures are machined out of billet 6061 aluminum, which makes them four times lighter than stainless steel and half the weight of titanium. Protect the contents of your expensive survival tools with the best enclosure on the market, used by adventure professionals worldwide.
  • Hard anodized, suitable for cooking
  • Can also be used for digging
  • Outside dimensions: 2-1/2"w x 4"l x 1-1/2"d
  • Weight: 3.1oz
My thoughts:

When I first saw the SUMA Container I thought it was pretty slick. I have been carrying and building survival kits for various travels for well over a decade and I have never been satisfied with the containers for smaller kits. I have used everything from the mint tins, to super duty zip baggies, small Pelican style cases, mini water bottles, plastic soap dishes, etc. You name and I probably tried it. While I do like the Witz Sport Cases that I use to build the Austere Provisions Company Survival Kits out of they are limited in functionality beyond use as a case and while holding true to the ideal of finding gear that has multiple purposes I kept looking for the ultimate survival kit container.

So far, the SUMA is the winner. It is a tough little work of art and would not be out of place as the change holder for a luxury sedan with a sticker price of six figures but it is so much more. The weight is deceptive when you pick it up because it looks as though it is built like a tank but feels like a feather and the real deception kicks in when you start to abuse it. I am pretty sure at one point during my torture session that I heard a little snicker and something about "is that all you've got?" come out of this thing.

The packaging and description from the Fastfire website says that it is "hard anodized, suitable for cooking" followed by "can be used for digging". So I said, "what the hey, lets hit the woods" and set out to see if this thing could hold up. As you will find in the video I started with a small amount of water brought to a boil over an Esbit stove using the standard Esbit fuel tabs. Result: a small amount of discoloration and residue from the fuel tab which washed off with a rinse in the stream and no obvious distortion or structural weaking. Next I upped the heat a little with a Jetboil stove to see just how tough the finish was and if the aluminum could handle the stress. As you can see, no problems at all.

The third portion of the video is the digging test. I save the digging for last because I wanted to use the heat of the boiling tests to strain the metal and see if it could handle some hard labor after the rapid heating and cooling or if that would weaken the material. I started with a good sized patch of brown matter roughly 1-2" deep, not even a challenge to dig through, followed up with a few inches of top soil which didn't even phase the SUMA. Not only that but I rinsed the container off in the stream and it looked good as new.

The vid:

Once I was done and packing up I stuffed the survival contents I had thrown together as I headed out the door and replaced the lid on the SUMA container and commented to myself how even after numerous takes using both the Esbit and Jetboil stoves and digging in the dirt the lid still fit like a glove giving no indication of distortion, warping, or other structural change.

The lid is retained by two velcro straps with loop on one side and hook on the other. A rectangle of hook on the lid is sized perfectly for an IR US flag or other unit patch aiding in identification during a recovery situation.

So, if you have been searching for the ultimate survival container, your search is over and while some may balk at the price I would ponder over this: Most survival gear is functionally disposable, this container is not and you should expect years of use out of it. Not only that but it is made from the highest quality materials right here in the USA.

I know you all love seeing pictures, I like taking them so here is a few more:

From Blog album

From Blog album

A basic kit I put together while heading out the door.

From Blog album

Fastfire SUMA Container available at Austere Provisions Company

Monday, May 17, 2010

I will see you there

at the LMS Defense Customer Appreciation Weekend in Reno June 11th (evening of) through June 13th. Austere Provisions Company is proud to be attending and will be bringing some gear and the opportunity to hear some schpiel about some of the gear we carry. What does this have to do with Product Of The Week you may ask? Well this week we will be reviewing the Austere Provisions Company Comprehensive Trauma Kit produced under contract for LMS Defense.

A little background:

This kit came at the request of John Chapman, Director of Training for LMS Defense, when APC was just a brainstorm of mine. Chappy was looking for a more comprehensive kit of multipurpose items than was currently available that also matched the Defensive Medicine curriculum LMS was offering. I worked up a couple ideas for a well rounded package with built in redundancy that would fit both the trained civilian shooter and the professional warrior on the front lines and the LMS kit was born.

From Blog album

Included in the kit:

1-Olaes Modular Bandage 6"
1-H&H Primed Gauze
1-H&H Combat Medic Reinforcement Tape
1-Ultra Robertazi Nasal Airway, 30fr w/ Lubricating Jelly
1-SOFT-TQ Gen 2 Tourniquet
1-Alcohol Prep Pad
1-Iodine Prep Pad
2-Safety Pin
2-Large Exam Glove, Non-Sterile, Non-Latex, Violet in color
2-Medium Exam Glove, Non-Sterile, Non-Latex, Blue in color
1-14gax3.25" Hypodermic Needle

So what makes this kit different from other kits? For starters we went with the Olaes Modular bandage which includes a bandage, packing material, and an occlusive dressing which we then backed up with Primed gauze for extra packing material or to be used in conjunction with the SWAT-TQ as a secondary pressure dressing. Following the redundancy pattern we went with a true windlass style TQ, the SOFT-TQ, and backed it up with the SWAT-TQ. Couple those items with our core recommended components of two pair of gloves, decompression needle, safety pins, alcohol and iodine prep pads, Combat Medic Reinforcement Tape and you are set to treat some major trauma.

Some of you may be thinking: "wow, thats a pretty cool kit but where do I get trained to use such stuff?" At LMS Defense! As I mentioned earlier this kit was designed to go with the Defensive Medicine Curriculum which you can check out here: LMS Defensive Medicine Link or maybe you want to step it up a little and take the LMS Defensive Medicine/Two Man Tactics Combo Course.

If you have taken one of these or any of the other LMS Defense courses then I hope you have signed up for the Customer Appreciation Weekend I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It looks to be a great opportunity to network with other students and instructors as well as see some of the students you trained so hard alongside over the last few years, all the while brushing up on skills and getting the latest and greatest updates that we all need to stay one step ahead the wolves of the world.

Austere Provisions Company Comprehensive Trauma Kit produced under contract for LMS Defense available now

Are you looking for a custom kit for your team, shooting club, or business? Contact me at and we can discuss a build for you.

Stay sharp and have a good week,


Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's raining, It's Pouring,

But my matches are still working...

This weeks product of the week is the newly released UCO Stormproof Match. We originally heard about these late last year (2009) when signing up with UCO/Industrial Revolution as a dealer and were in great anticipation of the release. Well after quite a bit of playing around with them and comparing them to some of the other matches we have used over the years we are happy to add them to the line up.

As usual, a little info from the manufacturer:

Unlike other “waterproof” or “windproof” matches, the UCO
Stormproof matches are easy to light, and will stay lit for up to
15 seconds, even after being submersed in water!
Being able to reliably make a fire is vital for cooking, generating
warmth, and in survival situations, making signal fires.

The UCO Stormproof Matches are perfect for camping and
emergency kits. The UCO Stormproof matches should be part of
every 10 Essentials check list.

From Blog album

My take on it:

These are what you always wish the old school storm matches actually were. They are longer and thicker thus minimizing breakage during striking, they have a longer more robust application of striker that burns for a full 15 seconds or longer and is truly waterproof to the point that you get an actual flame after dunking. Don't believe it? I wouldn't either, let's go to the video:

As you can see the match takes two dunks in the water and keeps on burning. A note of caution: Don't expect these matches to be extinguished until they have burned out through an exhausted fuel supply. Putting them under water, as you can see, will not extinguish them alone.

Not only are the matches pulling extra duty but the manufacturer went the extra mile in the packaging. We offer the 2 pack kit which includes 2 boxes of 25 matches each. Each box has a striker on either side and the has 2 extra full length striker strips for stashing in a match container or survival kit. So if you are looking to outfit a solid fire-starting component to your survival kit, bug out bag, or contingency plans I full recommend these matches.

UCO Stormproof Matches now available at Austere Provisions Company

Until next week, stay sharp, stay safe, and keep your powder dry (and away from these matches),


Monday, May 3, 2010

Is that a light in your pocket or are you just happy to see me..

It's a light!

This weeks product of the week is a favorite of mine and an item I have been using for years: The Photon Freedom Micro from Laughing Rabbit, Inc. These little lights are the third generation (Original Photon Microlight and the Photon II) in the Photon series and are the ones I prefer of all the microlights on the market today. I do still use the Original Photon in some applications where expense/economics outweighs the need for the programming that the Freedom offers such as in pocket survival kits, interior lighting for rucks and kit bags, etc. Anywhere that may require a constant on or variable level lighting I prefer the Freedom and in general use it over the other two models.

A few details from the manufacturer:

The Freedom® Micro is the most advanced easy-to-use micro-light from the leader in Micro-Light technology.

Made in the United States, Photon Micro-Lights are approximately the size and weight as a US quarter. They feature the brightest LEDs in the world and smart-circuitry.

Available in a wide variety of colored LEDs including ultraviolet and infrared. Hands-free clip and quick-release necklace included FREE!

  • Smart Circuit Freedom Technology
  • Full-range adjustable brightness
  • 5 Safety Modes
  • Replaceable Lithium battery
  • Quick release ring
  • Visible for over one mile
  • 24 K gold plated contacts
  • Ultra tough case
  • Water resistant
  • Interactive packaging
My take:

They make great lights for emergency backups in caving and rescue work where the weight and bulk are not noticed until needed, or as an EDC (Every Day Carry) item on a keychain to save your tactical flashlight for when high lumen levels are necessary, or in the tactical environment where a super dim or highly adjustable light source is preferable to maintain light discipline/precautions when performing administrative functions.

As seen below I keep one on my keychain which comes in quite handy on nearly a daily basis:
From Blog album

As well I keep one on a "Contingency Necklace" as a deep fallback during rescue operations or while exploring underground:

From Blog album

Two very different uses where these lights shine, literally and figuratively, and the list of uses just keeps on going. I keep these things stashed all over the place and must have literally dozens scattered around the globe in gear piles. They are very durable, water resistant within reason and even if they do go in the drink for an extended period they will continue to run but should be cleaned to prevent battery corrosion from damaging the internals. All in all a great little accessory for the professional adventurer.

So if you are looking for a great little back up to your high powered rescue headlamp or your super lumen tactical light consider the Photon Microlights and particularly the Photon Freedom Microlight, available in numerous colors including infrared.

LRI Photon Freedom Microlight in white, red, blue, and green at Austere Provisions Company
LRI Photon Freedom Microlight in infrared at Austere Provisions Company

Until next time, stay sharp, stay safe, and have fun out there...


Friday, April 23, 2010

Something New

This week we have a new Austere Provisions Company Exclusive product to announce as well as some new off the shelf items.

Onto the exclusive...

The Austere Provisions Company 72 Hour Individual Sick Call Kit.

I started this project last year and had moved it to the back burner due to a couple other projects I am working on until I got an email from a good friend traveling in Europe. The jist of the email was that he had woken up after a night of socializing with some industry friends and colleagues to much more than a relatively minor hangover. Symptoms included fever, chills, fatigue, and cough among others. My buddy's complaint was that while he had a fairly comprehensive individual trauma kit in his luggage he did not have any basic meds to control symptoms or treat everyday issues such as a cold, headache, congestion, stomach upset, or any other of a host of issues that are common when traveling or in the field.

Compounding this was the fact that he was traveling and while he had been to this European city numerous times before he did not know of a local pharmacy to source meds from and wasnt in much of a condition to be going out anyway, turns out it was snowing outside as he was having his own personal summer courtesy of his immune system inside.

In the end, after a number of conversations I was convinced that this kit needed to be on the shelf and available to active travelers and adventurers today and not sitting on the back burner. Now some of you may be thinking to yourself: "self, havent these kits been made by numerous others before, why does this guy think his is so special?" Well, what I think makes this kit superior is that each content and the kit itself is the distillation of the most useful meds on the market packaged in a durable and water safe package with a large enough quantity of items to cover most issues for a solid 3 days.

The content list comes from the most common meds used during numerous deployments around the globe as well as carried in my personal kit. Each med is individually packaged for easy dosing and organization. So what is in this thing? Contents as follows:

-Acetaminophen 500mg 12 Packets of 2
-Aspirin 325mg 18 Packets of 2
-Ibuprofen 200mg 18 Packets of 2
-Phenylephrene HCL 5mg 18 Packets of 2
-Diphenhydramine 25mg 18 Packets of 1
-Loratadine 10mg 3 Packets of 1
-Alamag Plus 24 Packets of 2
-Loperamide HCL 2mg 12 Packets of 1
-Meclizine Hydrochloride 25mg 3 Packets of 1
-Cold Relief Multi-Component Tablet 12 Packets of 2
-Zantac 75 6 Packets of 1
-NoDoz 200mg 9 Packets of 2
-Talnaftate 1% 12 Packets of cream
-Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement Solution (Assorted Flavors) 6 Stick Packs

All that in a 12x12 LOKSAK bag leaving plenty of space for the end user to add personally prescribed meds or extras for extended trips. As the kit comes when ordered the bag is roughly half full and folds to 6x12, easily fitting in an assault pack, carry on, or brief case.

A few quick pics:

From Product Releases

From Product Releases

So if you are looking for a good sick call kit to keep you in tip top shape no matter where your travels take you consider the Austere Provisions Company 72 Hour Individual Sick Call Kit

72 Hour Individual Sick Call Kit available exclusively at Austere Provisions Company

A few honorable mentions added this week:

We are very happy to add Littmann Stethoscopes to our line up. While we feel that all of Littmann's products are top of the line we have been particularly happy with the Classic II SE. I personally carried one of these for a number of years and continue to keep it in a sick call diagnostic bag. The Classic II SE combines a capable design with a compact and lightweight footprint. And of course we had to go with the Black Edition so it is tacticool in that late 80's early 90's way.

From Product Releases

Littmann Classic II SE Black Edition available at Austere Provisions Company

Next up is a tool I have been carrying for quite some time in my diagnostic kit which serves a number of purposes including basic auditory tests, but more useful in the field is the ability to help identify long bone fractures. If a question mark just popped into your head take a minute and do an internet search for "tuning fork" and "fracture diagnosis" and you will find a myriad of sources about the accuracy of such a technique as well as various ways to perform this test. Through my research and use 128mhz seems to be the most accurate and multipurpose.

From Product Releases

128 mhz Tuning For now available at Austere Provisions Company

Next up is a very common tool, EMS Shears. We are currently offering three options in our line of EMS Shears. Two sizes in an all black, fluoride coated model and a single size in the standard stainless steel version trusted for years.

From Product Releases

Fluoride Coated EMS Shears now available at Austere Provisions Company

From Product Releases

Stainless EMS Shears now available at Austere Provisions Company

Alright, I know we didnt destroy any gear this week but trust me when I say that each item we have featured in this post is a tried and true item that I keep in my own gear bag. That includes the Sick Call Kit which I happen to build a couple for myself to stash in various locations.

That is all for this week, I look forward to bringing you more next week. Until then, stay sharp and stay safe.


P.S. I wanted to take a minute and apologize for no post last week. My wife and I headed out to do a little camping on Thursday and came back on Friday to find a flooded house due to a broken water line in our kitchen. We have spent much of the week cleaning and coordinating with insurance and construction resources. Thanks to everyone who has offered assistance, it is much appreciated.