Perfect for low-profile carry and less-permissive environments, the Domino from Delta2Alpha Design gives you a thoughtfully-built, travel-friendly cutting tool with a few cool features.
The Domino comes in three colours – Just Black, NOD Green (the one I chose) and Widow Red. All really subtle.
I like the Domino as an addition to my Every-Day-Carry (EDC) when travelling in particular because the blades it uses are ubiquitous and available in shops, gas stations, hardware stores and pharmacies all around the world. Without the blade, it can be taken anywhere and easily loaded when on-ground. The blades are disposable, inexpensive and easily acquired (and each one can be turned over when dull to expose the other side for a fresh, new blade!).
Another interesting feature of the Domino is the magnets. They are positioned in such a way as to create a positive lock on the blade, as well as give you the option to stick it to something metal (see photo of the Domino stuck on one of my metal storage cabinets). It also has a nicely sized lanyard hole to attach via whatever shock cords or other cordage you choose.
TheDOMINO was developed with the “One Bag Traveler” in mind:
*Compact and Concealable *Stylish and Sturdy *Tactical yet Tasteful and Travel Friendly
After having spent seemingly thousands of dollars on “Throw-Aways” while traveling (many of which found their way into the garbage can outside of an airport); we set out to find something better… TheDOMINO was born.
TheDOMINO is a sleek, stylish, and Minimalist pocket knife.
It uses commonly available utility blades, paired with an innovative tool-less, quick change mechanism, that allows the blade to be removed or replaced in mere seconds.
The sophisticated styling of TheDOMINO and small size makes it much less likely to draw the wrong kind of attention when you are around those of a more delicate nature.
From the Manic Mind of the Nomadic Nerd For Hire himself, we are pleased to introduce you to:The DOMINO.
Note: dimensions are 7cm x 3cm x 0.5cm and weight is 106 grams
Delta2Alpha have really done a great job with this one – like they do with all their tools and offerings – and the presentation is slick. The Domino comes in a really nice tin (which you can repurpose for countless other things) and is shipped discreetly.
With over 20 tools in such a compact package the Covert Companion is an absolute win.
Those diabolical minds at Covert Instruments have managed to cram 20 tools into this small, sleek package that will meet most people’s needs for entry tools on a day-to-day basis. This includes everything from a sleek handle, to four pics, warded picks, a comb set, a jiggler set, a latch tool, a decoder knife and flat. Unbelievably, all this and more.
It is very effective despite its small size. I was able to effectively use all the tools on their intended locks without a problem and effectively bypass them or open them. (NOTE: I used the turning tool from my Camp-X toolset for all of my picking and it worked like a charm.)
The tools themselves are well-made and sturdy and the handle is able to take some abuse. It also helps that the Covert Companion is fully modular and able to add various other tools from the Covert Instruments lineup and interchange broken tools if needed. The entire package is about the size of a Bic lighter. This makes it’s easy to carry, unobtrusive and small enough that it doesn’t bother you in anyway. It’s also very low-profile and does not attract any attentions as it looks like a simple key set.
That being said if you have larger hands (like I do) then you might have to adjust the way you hold it. Even still, the tools are fully functional and though because of their lack of handles may not fully replace full-size tools they still have the same capability and for that I am grateful.
One notable component which is missing is a turning tool. One would think that this was an oversight however the creators specifically left it out as turning tools are more of a subjective item for one to carry that may or may not be useful for the particular application. In their FAQs on their website they speak to the fact that you can provide your own turning tool that will be most useful to you under your circumstances. I found that the tools that they offer on their webpage will very nicely complement the Covert Companion should you need it. That said, turning tools are easily fashioned from other types of items in a field expedient manner. This means that you can use almost anything as a turning tool if you have to resort to using the Covert Companion to gain entry. As a pocket knife-type implement for small or not-so-serious entries this is the perfect addition to your every day carry (EDC).
The designers were able to incorporate not only the best and most useful and commonly used tools into a small package but they were also able to incorporate quality craftsmanship in the process.
I am very happy with my Covert Companion and find myself using it more often than I would have thought. Most recently I used it to open a service door to gain access to tools. I was not expecting to have to do so however the situation has changed and I happen to have my Covert Companion on me. It performed very well, as expected.
For the money you are paying you are getting an incredible product with a wide variety of tools which can cover an even wider variety of situations. So much capability in such a small package is quite incredible. I have now incorporated the Covert Companion into my every day carry and don’t leave home without it. I look forward to getting a few more of these to add to my various bags and even in my car. Check them out at covertinstruments.com and pick one up for yourself today.
From covertinstruments.com : “For the person who wants to open everything, we present to you the fully loaded Covert Companion. This comprehensive kit includes all the flagship SSF tools at a discounted rate. With 20 tools, this kit offers the most opening potential in the smallest form factor on the market. This kit arrives unassembled.”
Review of the KIHD Stove: Collapsible, Compact, Capable & Canadian.
The KIHD Stove is a small and sturdy collapsible stick stove from KIHD Products.
It was designed and is manufactured here in Canada.
I picked up a KIHD Stove Deluxe courtesy of Ingo from KIHD. I took it home and gave it a go both inside and outside. My approach was to try the stove out as if it were put to use during a power outage in the city. Though it was designed primarily as a backpacking and paddling stove, I was drawn to the KIHD for its low-profile and versatility across environments.
The KIHD Stove comes in a nice cotton carry bag. It’s small and flat and comes with easy to understand instructions. It is easily assembled and tight once the base retaining piece is secured. Though small, it is very sturdy and easily put together and taken down, even with gloves.
To give a you an idea as to the stove’s particulars, here they are from the KIHD website:
“For settings where wood is plentiful and burning it will not cause damage to fragile ecosystems, this wood burning stove allows you to travel without carrying fuel and it packs down to the size of a pancake.
The individual stainless steel panels easily fit into place during setup and the unique locking mechanism lock it together. The low square design focuses heat upward, directing it to the pot for quick, efficient cooking.
Made of 316 stainless steel, a material that withstands long-term heat without damage.
Designed for pots no larger than 1.5L.
Removable access door can be inserted or removed for air-control and for refuelling.
Extra set of cross strap as to be able to use gel or ethanol pods
Assembled dimensions are11.0 x 11.0 x 12 cm carrying case.
Made with 18 gauge stainless steel
Weight: 1.41 Lbs (640g)
Load capacity is 250 Lbs (115 Kg)
Packed size is 11 x 11 x 12 cm
Carrying case included.
Made in Canada”
So yeah, very solidly built. The stove is easily set up and disassembled. The steel used is very sturdy which tends to add to weight, however KIHD offers a titanium stove option (The KIHD Stove Ultimate) if that is a point of consideration for you.
So, on to the results.
Outside, on the ice while snowing, I took the KIHD out and, after a bit of adjustment, got it going enough to boil a litre of water. I used less-than-ideal fuel but the stove performed admirably in an outdoors/camping environment. The water was at a rolling boil quickly and made hot chocolate without a problem.
We even gave the toaster accessory a run and, surprisingly, the little guy manages to toast 2 pieces of bread easily and without making it all sooty.
*NOTE: Though the KIHD Stove is capable of accepting small fuel pods (such as chafing dish heaters and other similar fuel-gel-based pods, I did not use these in this series of tests. I would recommend that if you live in a condo or townhouse, consider keeping a few of these fuel sources in your cupboard as an emergency cooking and heat source. Always ensure adequate ventilation and fire control protocols.***
When I transitioned inside the next day, simulating what it would be like to use it in my fireplace without power, the KIHD again performed very well. Because I was indoors, it was easier to get the stove going. Using only a few small sticks I got a litre of water boiling very quickly and could have used it for food or drink no problem. It made very little smoke yet produced a significant amount of heat and flame for the amount of fuel used.
Overall, I was very impressed with the performance of the KIHD Stove inside. If you were to use this stove to heat you during a power outage, I would recommend doing so in a fireplace (if you have one), or MacGyvering the stove onto a heat-resistant surface and non-flammable base with adequate ventilation. You could also fashion a heat reflector from some aluminium foil in your kitchen to redirect the heat back into your living space.
My biggest challenge with the KIHD Stove was one that plagues me with all my caping equipment – the cleanup. Though the KIHD stove is nicely designed with holes at the bottom for air circulation and ash removal, when it’s all done there’s a lot of soot and burn marks on the steel. This can come off with steel wool and soap, but I always find it a challenge, especially with the smaller pieces. That said, it’s a minor issue and does not affect the performance of the stove in any way.
I would easily and readily recommend the KIHD Stove to anyone looking into this kind of low-profile, easily-transportable, sturdy and versatile product for their camping or emergency back-up needs. For the price, it’s very much worth the quality you’re getting as well as supporting a Canadian small business.
KIHD Products are available through their website, at their store front in Oakville, or at any of their retail partners listed on the website.
Are you ready for 2019? Make sure you are by picking up the The True North Tradecraft Disaster Preparedness Guide: A Primer on Urban and Suburban Disaster Preparedness.
PDF AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR STORE HERE Paperback and Ebook available worldwide through Amazon.
Over the past long while, we have been working on a guide for urban & suburban disaster preparedness. This book is meant to be an accessible planning and development blueprint for those wishing to establish and maintain a reasonable level of preparedness to be resilient in the face of a natural or man-made disaster.
It outlines the basics of survival and preparedness in an urban & suburban context. This gives you a foundation to create your own preparedness plan and build emergency readiness kits. For instance, have your plans and supplies in place before something happens.
Many to whom I have spoken about preparedness are uneasy about starting, stating their biggest challenge was not knowing where to start. Most importantly, this book gives the beginner (as well as the seasoned planner), a solid foundation on which to build.
This guide covers:
Priorities and Strategy
Fire, Heating & Cooking
Medical & First Aid
Health, Santitation & Hygiene
Light, Electricity & Backups
and so much MORE!
It is also specific in two contexts:
It does NOT get into wilderness survival (as this is a topic all it’s own) and;
It is written from a Canadian legal perspective.
This is our humble first edition to offer the tools of knowledge necessary for those who wish to prepare themselves and their families for future challenges, but don’t know where to start. It also contains tidbits which should be useful to even seasoned veterans in preparedness.
When you fail to plan you plan to fail…don’t let not knowing stop you. Get started today to be ready for tomorrow.
This review’s purpose is not to pit one against the other, but rather to showcase both on their own merits as they are different. They are also custom-made for me, so your experience may differ. With that in mind, here are my thoughts.
I received a selection of picks and some other “tools” (including bump keys, handcuff keys, tiny patches, a glow stick & beads and a fantastic little pouch.
The picks themselves feature a variety of profiles. They come wrapped in cordage and shrink-sleeved with a rubber covering. Then they’re topped with little silver skulls to ensure a level of bad-assery when picking.
The grip and finish are fantastic, however I find that the handles are a bit narrow for my hands. It’s not that it hinders use in any way, it just causes me to use a different grip.
The only preference I’d change on these is the flexibility (bend from side to side) of the picks. Yes, I know that I’m not supposed to be bending them from side to side, but I am used to slightly more rigid picks. Again, personal preference. This does not detract from their effectiveness, I just find that the feedback takes some getting used to.
The second set I received was a “pen kit” which is a super-minimalist kit which fits into a pen body – VERY COOL. I took it along with me on a recent trip to New York and had zero issues with it. It works equally as well as the “regular” picks, but the handles are bare and the turning tool is not as versatile as the full-sized one.
The finish and polish on these are great and there is no noticeable drag through the lock bodies in any of my practice cylinders or padlocks.
The hand-made custom set of Rare Element lock picks I received took a while (RELP has a waiting list for his stuff, so be patient, it’s worth the wait) and arrived in great shape.
I opted for a mix of rakes and some custom turning tools. The picks came in two thicknesses and various similar profiles. All were high-carbon steel. One was even hand engraved. VERY COOL!
The finish on these had an “acid etched” look to them which looked great and still benefited from the polishing they received. No drag or snag in any of the tested lock bodies.
The only thing I found, well, needing of some adaptability, were the custom turning tools that came with the picks. They had slightly different ends then I’ve been used to but once I got the hand of them and figured out a comfortable way to hold them, they worked very well. Also, the handles are straight steel with no additional grips or wrap added. This is personal preference. They are wider than the CMTP picks, but this isn’t a negative. Just different.
Picking cylinders and padlocks went very well with both sets. I have to say, it’s very difficult to pick one over the other, so I won’t. Both sets are fantastic. I would advise that if you have particular wants or needs that you contact each and discuss. Custom jobs are for particular needs and have requirements that only the person making the items can take into account. They’re top-notch, period. If you’re just starting out then of course, wreck some production stuff. But if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, or are working with these types of tools professionally, do consider checking what these guys have to offer.
There are a lot of flashlights out there. When you need light, there are many varieties of portable lights from which to choose. Sometimes you need lots of light, sometimes less. Sometimes under water, sometimes they need to be small. Whatever your specific need, there are solutions.
When I was introduced to the Brite Strike APALSmini LED lights distributed in Canada by Fiser Innovative Solutions, I didn’t know what to think of them. (APALS stands for All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips). They were small, I didn’t expect much but so what? Then I turned one on. BRIGHT! As I played around with the tiny light in my hand, Tom Fiser (Owner), gave me a rundown of the many technical specifications of these lights along with the ingenious uses they have integrated them into.
(Update & correction: Fiser is the Canadian distributor. Brite Strike Technologies Inc. is the manufacturer, they are made in the US.)
Here is a photo for sizing comparison:
They are very thin, weigh next to nothing and can stick to just about anything. Here are some technical specs:
very small, 2″ long, almost completely flat;
featherweight at less than 5g;
Visible up to 3.2km(2miles) on land, 4.8km(3miles) from the air;
Up to 200 hours or run time;
Waterproof to 200FT;
Modes: Fast Strobe/Slow Strobe/Steady On/Off;
Available in 5 colours (Red, Orange/Amber, Blue, Green, White);
Heavy Duty 3M® Adhesive Back Tape;
Easy Pull Tab;
Waterproof, Dust-proof & Shockproof.
Here is a pdf of their info sheet:
On the Fiser website, they list several innovative and creative uses for these mini lights. They even make gloves with little sleeves for them for Police working traffic duty, police on bicycles, SCUBA divers, hunters, cycling & roller sports, outdoor adventure and even for pets! I’d feel comfortable in adding that, for such a light package with 3 modes, high-visibility and 200hrs of run time, you could throw a few in your car, home, go-bag, any emergency kits, keep one in your first aid kit. They’re so versatile. For those doing plain clothes work, members of your team can keep one in their pocket for activation for hi-viz identification by peeling off the backing and sticking it on themselves. They can be used to mark entrances, evidence, route or trail marking, bike light, land or water recovery…the possibilities are quite vast.
I’ve even put 2 in my Nanuk935 roller case (both red and green) for backup light and low-pro options. They stick to the lid and do not obstruct anything and are almost invisible (see below):
I also popped one into a glass of water for a half-hour to see how it did:
I haven’t, to this point, dipped my toes into the waters of G10 implements. After doing some training down south of the border, I was introduced to G10 tools. Strong, non-metallic, non-magnetic, very light-weight and can be fashioned into almost any shape, I was properly intrigued. I reached out to Dave at Fat Lazy Cat Knives , just outside of Toronto, and read up on his materials, production processes and available models.
For those who don’t know what G10 is (like I didn’t) here is the explanation from Wikipedia:
G10 is a high-pressure fiberglass laminate, a kind of composite material. It is created by stacking multiple layers of glass cloth, soaking in epoxy resin, and compressing the resulting material under heat until the epoxy cures. It is manufactured in flat sheets, most often a few millimeters thick.G10 is very similar to Micarta and carbon fiber laminates, because they are all resin-based laminates, except that the base material used is glass cloth. G10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates and therefore the most commonly used.
Dave and I chatted for a while and I arranged a small batch purchase to test and play around with. That was a few months ago. I have now had an opportunity to poke things with these sharps and I am very impressed with their durability, sharpness and craftsmanship.
As I can only speak to the models I have tried I will say that I received prompt, courteous service, fast shipping and nicely packaged products.
I received as follows:
Get Off Me Tool (GOMT) No. 6 in G10, stubby, offset, with Kydex sheath
GOMT No. 4 (ventilator)
GOMT No. 1 (Synthetic, Slim) with Kydex carrier
“Hatchlings” (both thick and thin profiles)
Cool stickers. (Thanks Dave!)
Immediately out of the box I noticed a few things:
SHARP points on all (good thing they come in protective tubing)
Very lightweight. I’d equate them to a pen.
Sturdy, durable and smooth.
The jute twine which furnishes the handles is comfortable and epoxied to hold the cordage in place. It works well.
Though I have yet to test them in an organic medium, they easily penetrate several layers of cardboard and towels. The points seem sturdy (none have broken yet, but again, no organic medium testing yet) and maintain their sharp points even after several uses.
The box testing I did (the photos in this entry are not all-inclusive) showed no damage to the points, an easy grip and to-the-grip penetration. The GOMT No. 6 even managed to cut the box (with the point) several times without noticeable resistance and maintain its integrity.
As you can see, the G10 penetrated with ease and there was no damage to any of the points. The ergonomics worked quite well and felt comfortable in the hand – easy to hold and manipulate. They can even be re-sharpened on concrete in a pinch!
To see some more, check out some YouTube videos of other testing of FLC Knives:
In an effort to organize some of my equipment, I have gone through several options to address issues surrounding ease of transport, durability, security and protection. I initially went with low-cost/low-quality options such as boxes, bags, duffels, etc., and tried to keep everything organized, protected from damage and loss and something properly sized to fit everything in one piece. I was hesitant to go with a Pelican case, as their price point was too high for what I was looking for, so I searched for other options.
Earlier this year, when I was at the Toronto Sportsman’s Show, I had the fortune of meeting Dan from Nanuk (pronounced “Na-Nook”, the Inuit word for the mighty Polar Bear) and exchanged contacts. Their display was expansive and their options for protective cases ranged across sizes, colours, shapes and options. I also liked the fact that they were Canadian and also that they offered a Military/Law-Enforcement discount.
A couple of weeks ago, after several failed trials to organize my gear the way I wanted, I reached out to Dan and arranged to purchase the Nanuk 935 hard case. The following covers my experience dealing with Nanuk and my impressions of the Nanuk 935.
First off, the service was FAST. As in the case arrived at my door within 48hrs. I was impressed. The customer service and administration was excellent. The team at Plasticase is very efficient.
The 935 arrived mint.
My first impression of the 935 (even though I had seen it before at the Sportsman’s Show) was how solid it felt. Everything on this thing is heavy-duty. Not a piece feels flimsy or cheap, despite its relative light weight.
Here is a rundown of some of the key features of Nanuk cases generally and the 935 Roller Case in particular:
Features the “Powerclaw” latching system.
Waterproof: rated to IP67 for 30mins under 1m(3.3′) of water.
Automatic pressure release valve
Hard-wearing NK-7 resin for impact resistance
Stainless steel hardware
Model-specific bezel and gasket system to ensure a watertight seal
Handle & lid stays
Conditional Lifetime Warranty
Model 935 features a 2-stage, heavy-duty pull handle for rolling the case behind you like a carry-on.
Model 935: Interior dimensions (L x W x H): 20.5″ x 11.3″ x 7.5″ & Exterior dimensions (L x W x H): 22.0″ x 14.0″ x 9.0″, Weight 11.6lbs (5.2kg)
Carry-on compatible (check with your airline for specifics)
Comes in a variety of colours and internal configurations.
Made in Canada!
For more complete details about the Nanuk 935, go to the webpage here.
Below are more detailed photos with cations speaking to the above specifications and observations.
As a note to the latching system, though the latching system is effective at preventing water and dust from getting in, it is NOT effective in securing the contents from unauthorized access. It is a hair-pulling pet peeve of mine when I see people buy a top-of-the-line protective case (like a Nanuk or Pelican, etc) to store an expensive piece of equipment (like a tricked-out rifle, research gear, optics, etc) and then go to Home Depot and buy a $10 lock to keep it “secure”. Just don’t. Please. If your investment in case and equipment is up there, why entrust it to a $10 lock? Do yourself a favour and visit a proper locksmith and spend the $80-$120 or so for a high-quality padlock (Like an ABUS, Abloy, S&G or something similar) and keep your stuff protected. Just do it. You’ll also be interested to know that Nanuk now offers to retrofit the latches to lockable latches to TSA specifications if you would like to lock your Nanuk without a padlock.
All in all, I am very impressed with the Nanuk 935. You can take a look at their entire line of products here.
They feature protective solutions for everything from your smart phone to weapons cases, sensitive electronics, photography gear, laptops and even custom solutions for whatever you may need.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, Canadian-made protective case for your equipment, do consider Nanuk cases in your search. Unfortunately, members of the general public will have to look for Nanuk dealers near you to purchase, but if you’re Military or Law Enforcement, you can buy directly from them.
A while ago I heard about a book which chronicled the history and evolution of skills and tips for the Prisoners of War (POWs) or captives in a foreign land. After much digging, I contacted the author, Mr. Joseph A. Laydon Jr., and arranged to purchase a copy to be shipped to Canada.
Mr. Laydon was very kind and forthcoming in his communications with me and I received my copy (and a bunch of other goodies) from him shortly afterward.
Mr. Laydon’s compendium is a ~350-page tome of well researched historical material. He has dug deep into the world of POWs (in an American context, specifically) from the US Civil War to Cold War-era and their methods of survival, escape and reunification through simple tips as well as in-depth case studies.
As the nature of warfare has changed with the introduction of ever-advancing technologies, the realities of captivity remain. Allied soldiers have been held captive in more recent conflicts such as the Gulf Wars, The Balkans/Former Yugoslavia and in the Middle East. And though one never knows in advance the circumstances of one’s possible captivity, a study of historical methods (both by captors and captives) is beneficial. It gives scope and depth of knowledge which may be adapted in given circumstances. In some current theatres of conflict, one’s adversaries may tend to be on the less-technologically advanced side. If one is to be effective in combating such foes, a study into their “low-tech” methods will yield insight into their weaknesses. To that end, studying past historical methods of captivity and restraint allows for the operator or agent to understand the weaknesses in those methods and train to exploit those weaknesses to one’s advantage.
As an example, “high tech” security features, such as locks and handcuffs, may be in use by one’s own forces, but in some areas in the world, technology may be 50-80 years behind the times, often using outdated and “low tech” restraints and locking mechanisms. Awareness and training in the exploitation of these are crucial to one’s survival.
I would also argue that even by reading through it in a non-military or operational context, if one were to find themselves kidnapped or held in unlawful confinement, some of the points discussed in this book may be of help, again depending on the circumstances. But the more you know, the more options you may have.
To bring this around full circle, Mr. Laydon does an excellent job of providing a thoroughly researched historical account of survival methods used by POWs and also the captivity methods of their captors and aggressors over a very long period of time across a wide range of theatres. Even more useful are his personal notes from his time in the Military and through various survival schools. All very useful information. There are many practical and informative (and genuinely interesting) tips and tricks covered. It is not an instructional manual, per se, but rather an in-depth reference highlighting many historical and contemporary methods and ideas for use in such environments. The author has augmented historical methods with personal anecdotes and experiences to bring context. There are no pictures or diagrams to see (though there are a few exercises to learn some of the tricks shown) however the sheer multitude of referenced tips and tricks leaves one much to internalize and think about. I would recommend this publication to anyone looking to expand their knowledge of this subject matter. Sometimes, the saying “what’s old is new again” may come to pass. You never know, it may come in handy some day.
Though the information in this book is good to know, Would highly recommend finding training in these skillsets in-person. Nothing beats hands-on instruction and personal first-hand experience.