As we ramp up into summer, we get outdoors and increase our activity level and take advantage of the longer days and welcoming weather. Much of what we do is made easier or more efficient by the tools we carry or keep close at hand. It is vital to make space in our lives for downtime, especially when we gain experience with much of the gear we’ve gathered to serve us in emergencies. Whatever it is that you find soul-nourishing, be sure to make it a priority.
The Sketch is a great example of what makes an excellent EDC knife. Simple, understated, and it just plain works. It has a blade length barely under 3 inches and stretches to a little over 6.5 inches when open. A frame lock keeps the blade secure while you work, and the 8Cr14MoV steel will keep a sharp edge. A thumb hole at the spine provides one-handed opening capability. The K-tip blade profile is very handy, especially when fine detail work is needed.
Combine a wide spatula with a chef’s knife and you’re on the right track for the XXX Dicer. Part of the growing kitchen collection from TOPS Knives, it measures 8.88 inches from tip to butt, with the blade stretching 7 inches of that length. The handle is red and black G-10, providing a positive grip no matter what you’re slicing. The 440C steel blade will stand up to years of use, whether you’re in the kitchen or the backcountry.
The Street Spike is simplicity itself. Start with a slab of quarter-inch 1095 steel and skeletonize the handle to reduce the weight. Radius the handle edges for comfort so you don’t need to add scales and you’re good to go. It’s easy to carry, easy to conceal and easy to use for a wide range of tasks. Even with the Kydex sheath, it is small enough to fit into a pocket or on a neck chain. The plan was to create a no-frills tool that is easy to keep on your body and TOPS succeeded on both counts.
The Astute is a folder that punches way above its weight class. It has a four-position pocket clip as well as a lanyard hole, allowing a wide range of carry options. The blade is 8Cr13MoV steel, and it has a gently curving flat grind edge. A liner lock keeps you safe while you work and the textured G-10 scales keep the knife in your hand, even in cold or wet conditions. All in all, the Astute provides all the quality Spyderco is known for and at a value price point.
This special edition EDC-friendly messenger bag is the result of a collaboration between Spyderco and Vanquest. It has a high-visibility interior to help you find what you need when you need it. There are 22 pockets and slots scattered throughout the bag, providing excellent organizational capability. The padded main compartment will handle a laptop or tablet up to 13 inches in size. There is a concealed carry pocket as well as two bottle holders, each capable of holding one 32-ounce bottle.
Mountain Safety Research (MSR) has been designing and producing tents since 1973. Their new Habitude series of standing-height shelters was made specifically with families in mind. Several gear pockets and hanging hooks allow for excellent organization of small items, keeping everything in easy reach. The integrated porch light is a welcome beacon on a dark night. The zippers are particularly burly and over-built, keeping them working for years to come. This four-person model weighs just 12 pounds and is easily set up by just one person.
This is a freestanding, two-person tent (they make larger models for three or four people). Easy to set up and take down, freeing your time for outdoor pursuits instead of wrestling with poles and instructions. It has a pack weight of 6 pounds and a pack size of 20.5 by 6.5 inches. Dual overhead ventilation keeps the interior cool and condensation-free. Fully assembled, it provides over 30 square feet of floor space and a peak height of 41 inches.
The Drift Pillow compresses small for travel and is the perfect accompaniment to your next overnight trip in the field. Once you arrive, the shredded memory foam inside puffs up quickly and is ready for bed when you are. It weighs 28 ounces. During travel, it measures 13.5 by 5 inches, increasing to 23 by 16 inches when unpacked. It has an easy-to-clean and water-resistant outer shell that is covered by a jersey cotton fabric case for comfort.
Perhaps one of the most versatile lights on the market today, the SNAP can be used as a headlamp, flashlight, bicycle light or signal light. It even has a hidden magnetic base so you can use it in the shop or around the house. At the high white LED setting, it blasts out 300 lumens. For those who like a little variety, it can adjust from white light to red, blue or green. It uses three AAA batteries and will last up to 162 hours on the low white LED setting.
A headlamp keeps your hands free while you work. This model from 5.11 Tactical is lightweight, just 6.3 ounces with the battery, and comfortable even after lengthy use. It has a red filter that can be used to preserve your night vision or limit your exposure. At the peak spot setting, it blasts out 1,000 lumens for up to two hours. Dial it back to flood and you’ll get upward of six hours of use. The light tilts vertically 180 degrees and can be removed from the harness completely to serve as a handheld or pocket-mounted flashlight. Two lighting sources give you plenty of illumination options.
Streamlight Sidewinder Boot Flashlight
This light is the new standard-issue flashlight for boot camp and other military training scenarios. The Sidewinder Boot has a head that tilts 185 degrees, letting you shine light exactly where you need it. It has a belt/web clip, so you can go hands-free as the situation dictates. A sliding red filter can be used to preserve your night vision in the field. The Sidewinder Boot uses two AA batteries, either alkaline (included) or lithium. On high, it has a 55 lumen rating and will last eight hours. Dial it back to low and you’ll get 90 hours of use.
Titanium is the ideal material for camping cookware. It is lightweight, yet incredibly strong. It doesn’t corrode and it doesn’t absorb food odors. Holding 750 ml (25.4 ounces), this pot is a great way to introduce titanium to your repertoire. With the pot, lid and storage sack, it adds a mere 4.8 ounces to your pack. The pot is 4.3 inches high and has a diameter of 3.7 inches, making it large enough to nest a small fuel canister and camp stove. It will boil about 2.5 cups of water, perfect for your dehydrated meals.
The BitVault is a handy way to carry small items in a watertight case. It clips to your belt loop or keychain, or you can just slip it into a pocket or pack. It has a quarter-inch hex bit socket at the top and on the side and comes with both Phillips and flat head bits that can be stored inside. There are removable plastic dividers that can be used to organize the interior of the case, too. A rubber O-ring keeps the interior dry.
Toss this into your trunk and you’re ready for just about anything. The shovel disassembles into sections for easy storage in even the smallest vehicle. This is a true multi-tool as it has an ice pick, screwdriver, wire cutter, fire starter, spear point, and others for a total of 14 functions. It can be used to process firewood as an axe or saw or the shovel can be used to dig your way out from a bad spot. The canvas carry bag is sturdy and well made, as well as handsome.
Hiperfire Phantom AR Triggers
The new PHANTOM family of drop-in AR triggers overcomes concerns of light primer strikes (LPS) while providing pull weights around 2 pounds. Hammer strikes surpass the SAAMI copper crusher specification and exceed the MIL-Spec for M-4/M-16 hammers. The PHANTOM also features a hammer collision bumper to protect crucial parts from blowback violence. The HIPERSHOE allows you to customize trigger feel to further enhance and improve your shooting experience.
With magnets at both ends, the Techliner will stay put so you can find it again. Stick it to clipboards, desk legs or even lamps. The body is aircraft aluminum, solidly built and made to last. Just over 5 inches, it is super lightweight, and the ergonomic design is easy on the fingers as well as the eyes. The included Fisher Space Pen black ink cartridge is perfectly suited for use just about anywhere on the globe, from the arctic to the tropics.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the June, 2020 print issue of American Survival Guide.