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...