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Review: KIHD Stove

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.

The KIHD Stove in it’s retail packaging, a nice cotton pouch (Full-size Bic Lighter for size comparison).
Included instructions are simple, clear and easy to follow.
The KIHD Stove pieces all laid-out.

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.
KIHD stove assembled.
Top-down view of the assembled KIHD Stove.

Technical Specifications

  • 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.

In the snow, ready to go!
And we’re off!

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.

And we have boiling water! Hot Chocolate-time!
Who want’s toast?
Toasty and tasty.

*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.

Indoors, no power.

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.

Got it going!
Rolling boil in no time at all!

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.

Ash baked-on.
Nothing a scrub with steel wool won’t fix.

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.

The KIHD Stove.

KIHD Products are available through their website, at their store front in Oakville, or at any of their retail partners listed on the website.

They can be reached at www.kihdproducts.com or by email at [email protected]. They’re also on Facebook.

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The True North Tradecraft Disaster Preparedness Guide

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:

  • Disaster Planning
  • Preparedness Psychology
  • Priorities and Strategy
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Fire, Heating & Cooking
  • Food
  • Medical & First Aid
  • Health, Santitation & Hygiene
  • Communications
  • Light, Electricity & Backups
  • Special Considerations
  • Recommendations
  • and so much MORE!

It is also specific in two contexts:

  1. It does NOT get into wilderness survival (as this is a topic all it’s own) and;
  2. 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.

Stay crafty. Be ready.

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!!!

Paperback and ebook versions available from Amazon in various markets.

(Search:  True North Tradecraft)

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Open-Minded: Rare Element & Coyote Mountain Custom Lock Picks

Coyote Mountain (Left) and Rare Element (Right) picks.

To this point, all of my lock picking has been done with “production” tools.  Some cheap and flimsy, others high-quality. But this is my first foray into hand-made & custom lock picks.

Rare Element Lock Picks and Coyote Mountain Trading Post.

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.

Coyote Mountain

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.

These picks went through those locks with ease.

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.

Rare Element Lock Picks

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.

Smooth action and shaping made these practice locks a breeze.

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.

Check them each out at their addresses below:

Coyote Mountain Trading Post

Rare Element Lock Picks

Till next time, Stay safe and stay crafty.

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Review – Brite Strike APALS personal light beacons by Fiser.

Fiser Brite Strike APALS Lights

Brighten up your day with Fiser Innovative Solutions.

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 APALS mini 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:

2 Fiser lights, end-to-end, against a standard Bic lighter for size comparison.  The 3M adhesive backing shown to view both sides.

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:

Fiser Light Info

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 Nanuk 935 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):

Green light turned off because it was too bright for the photos head-on.

This kind of setup can be adapted to closets, cabinets, safes, gun safes, medicine cabinets, suitcases, etc as a back-up in case you need it, especially during a power outage.

I also popped one into a glass of water for a half-hour to see how it did:

Waterproof!

Here’s a short APALS video of it blinking too!

Overall, I’m very impressed with these little lights.  They last longer and are brighter than glow sticks and are smaller too.  I like the 3-mode options they have and that they are almost weightless.

They even sell them in 10-packs for expeditions or teams.  Pretty great.  Canadian too, from Hamilton, Ontario.

If you are looking for a different kind of light to augment your situation or if these sound useful, reach out to Fiser Innovative Solutions at their website.

Till next time, stay safe, stay visible (when you want to be), and stay crafty.

https://fiser.ca

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Product Review – Fat Lazy Cat Knives (hint, they’re neither fat nor lazy)

An assortment of G10 implements from FLC Knives.

FLC knives are pretty interesting…

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.[1] 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.[2][3] 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:

  1. SHARP points on all (good thing they come in protective tubing)
  2. Very lightweight.  I’d equate them to a pen.
  3. Sturdy, durable and smooth.
  4. 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.

Get Off Me Tool (GOMT) No. 6 (left) and a Hatchling.

Small size. Comfortable grip.

 

No resistance or deformation of the point.

No problem.

Cuts just like a metal knife through cardboard.

Strong point. Very sharp. Easily field sharpened on concrete.

VERY sharp point.

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:

Get Off Me Tool #4 – Durability

Hatchling 2.1 – Organic Medium

All told, the implements made by FLC Knives are top-notch quality.  I am very happy with my purchase and do not hesitate to recommend them to others.  Just be careful, they’re pointy.

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

 

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Product Review – Nanuk Hard Case: Top-tier protection for your gear

The 935 Roller Case by Nanuk. Solid protection for your sensitive gear.

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.

Enter Nanuk Professional Protective Cases, by Plasticase.

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
  • Polyurethane wheels
  • 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.

 

Lots of space inside.

Powerclaw latches are beefy, tough and connect with a positive and satisfying click. To open, you have to actuate the button and latch.

Stainless steel hardware and tough, large gasket seal to ensure long life and solid seal.

Steel-ringed (x2) rivets for padlocks. Make sure you get something high-quality. Nanuk cases don’t protect themselves from thieves.

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.

Heavy-duty polyurethane whees with stainless steel hardware roll smooth even when the case is fully loaded.

Substantial pull arm features a 2-stage adjustment and easy-access release button.

Automatic pressure relief valve.

Easy to carry with 3 handle options, lightweight for what it is and comfortable grips.

Can take a beating on the inside too.

All loaded up. With room to spare. Fantastic piece of kit.

 

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.

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.

 

 

 

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Book Review – 375+ International Prisoner Survival Tricks

 

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.

American POWs in Hanoi, North Vietnam.

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.

Captured “enemy combatants” in Ukraine.

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.

You never know where you’ll end up. Prepare now.

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.

Joseph A. Laydon Jr. can be reached through www.survivalexpertbooks.com or at [email protected] and this book can be found on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca .  He has written many other books on various other survival-related topics, similarly sized and deeply researched.

Till next time, stay safe and Stay Crafty.

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Training Review: Counter Custody and Hostage Survival with 4TAC5 in Chicago, IL.

Training Review: IRETC with 4TAC5, Chicago, IL, May 2018

In May of this year (2018), I travelled to Chicago to expand my skills in the field of Counter-custody and counter-kidnapping but attending the IRETC Instructor Certification with Karl from 4TAC5.

For the longest time I had been working towards attending the counter-custody instructor certification course with 4TAC5 – IRETC (International Restraint Escape Training Course). I had tried for months to connect with them and was planning to travel to their training base in England to attend it when I was referred to Aaron Cunningham of the ITTA (International Tactical Training Association) as they were going to be hosing IRETC in Chicago. As luck would have it this made things much more convenient and less expensive.

Upon arrival I made contact with Aaron and he picked me up from the airport. I treated him to breakfast for the courtesy. As I had only had communications with him through e-mail to that point it was good to finally put a face to the name and get to know him. After breakfast, Aaron and I took a little tour around Chicago (he showed me some of the sights and gave me some background to the respective history and current situations with specific neighbourhoods we were traversing) and then we did two more circles to the airport to pick up other attendees and finally to pick up our instructor, Karl, and make our way to the training facility and our lodgings.

There were 4 of us with Karl and Aaron. A small but diverse group of LEO/MIL personnel.

***I will not speak to the identities of the others in the training as they are currently operational with their respective security services, nor will I get into specifics of the training due to it’s nature. ***

Over that first evening we all had a chance to get to know one another and discuss the upcoming week of training. Admittedly, I was very excited to get the training started and build upon my existing skills.

The next day training started and we covered a LOT of ground. The content for day 1 was vaguely as follows:

  • Overview of material, counter-custody principles, kidnapping & hostage survival;
  • Detailed review of improvised restraints and manufactured restraints;
  • Improvised tools against restraints;
  • Mindset and tactics

I felt as if I’d been overloaded with information and it took me a while to process what I was learning. So much amazing stuff was coming to me – efficient and effective techniques and principles to put to use immediately. My hands and wrists were smashed and raw by the end of the day but it was well worth the pain to gain the knowledge and hands-on experience in a controlled environment where mistakes can be made and learning can occur. Very helpful when you get yourself in a pickle and need someone to cut you out so you can try again.

Day 2 was much the same in so far as having a firehose of info shot my way. After a great breakfast, we got fuelled up on coffee and a recap of the previous day’s material and dove right in.

  • Recap Day 1;
  • Tools, carry, concealment and deployment;
  • Handcuffs (various, identify, function, features)
  • More mindset and tactics;
  • Special tools (contents, function, use)
  • Anatomy of abduction and custody (phases, counter-intelligence, immediate actions)
  • Captivity & custody Exercise

Day 2 was a long day filled with more work, soreness and trial and error. However, the more exhaustively we practiced, the more confident I was with the little curve balls that were thrown our way and, with patience and focus, they could be overcome.

Day 2 dinner was another great time gelling with the group and expanding on the day’s lessons.

***BTW the food in Chicago was AWESOME!***

Day 3 was the Big Cahuna. Exercise after exercise after exercise, more scenarios and practice. Very involved to test our newly acquired skills and assure we’d assimilated the little tricks and remained focused on the task regardless of the negative stimulus applied. I found this culmination was a thorough test of my skills and my ability to apply them under stress and in unknown conditions.

As a finale to the week, Aaron arranged a tour of the Chicago Police Marine Unit (with associated boat ride and waterfront tour) and topped it off with a ride-along with the Chicago Police Aviation Unit aboard a CPD helicopter above downtown Chicago. And, as it was Tuesday, what better dinner to have than tacos? I guess you really haven’t lived till you’ve watch a White Sox game at Wrigley Field from a police helicopter. Karl and I had a blast. What a great night.

The following day included a debrief, discussions, clean-up and certification presentations. My trip to the airport was bitter-sweet. I had made some new friends, learned and experienced some top-tier training and was leaving a very Toronto-like city (minus the 14 people who were shot while I was there).

I extend my sincerest thanks to Aaron Cunningham and the ITTA for hosting the training and for their wonderful hospitality. True professionals doing a great job.

To Karl of 4TAC5, thank you for your knowledge, patience and great sense of humour during the week.

To the Chicago Police Marine and Aviation units – thank you for your hospitality and for the amazing ride-alongs. Stay safe out there!

And to my fellow attendees, thank you for the laughs and lessons. Stay safe in your respective areas of operation and keep in touch.

For those of you who are in Canada looking for counter-custody and hostage survival training, keep your eyes peeled for our offerings for both civilians and military/law enforcement (restricted content) or contact us directly for private training solutions for your group.

For more information on mentioned training and entities, see below and feel free to contact us.

International Tactical Training Association

4TAC5

Oscar Delta

Hard Case Survival

Lockpicktools.com

Stay safe, stay crafty and ALWAYS HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN.

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My Guest Post on the New Tactikey Blog

The Tactikey. The go-anywhere force multiplier.

I am humbled and honoured to have been asked by Tactikey to write the first guest blog article on the new Blog section of their site.

The article can be found here.

For my original review of the Tactikey, it can be found here.

Check out the Tactikey website and give them a follow, @tactikey.

Stay Safe and Stay Crafty.

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Training Review – Ed’s Manifesto – Mixed Skills Module in Washington, DC

The Sneak Reaper – Ed’s Manifesto

Over the weekend of 9-12 February, 2018, I travelled to Washington, DC & Alexandria, VA to train at District Combatives’ hosting of Ed Calderon (of Ed’s Manifesto), who was conducting a Mixed Skills module of training.

The trip down to DC from Toronto was relatively uneventful.  I got in early on Friday and spent the day sightseeing and getting the lay of the land in and around the area where we would be training.  I wasn’t sure as to what the training would entail, so with a map from the hotel front desk and my trusty feet, I learned the area around the training location and did some touristy things.

White House. One of the Secret Service guys gave me a great recommendation for breakfast 2 blocks away. He wasn’t wrong. Thanks Jerry!

The Spy Museum. You can’t not visit if you’re in DC.

J. Edgar Hoover Building. Home of the FBI and X-Files.

WW2 Memorial.

Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

The Mall.

I ended Friday night at a small pizza place which made amazing slices and helped myself to three and a “Mexican Coke” (produced in Mexico, in glass bottles, using sugar, not corn syrup) to top it off.

REALLY good pizza.

Day 1

Saturday morning was smooth.  I found my way easily to the training venue in the drizzle.  When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by Ben from District Combatives and handed a pile of liability waivers.  I was delighted to see a couple of familiar faces from previous training I had attended in the US and immediately took to catching up.  I even met a few others whom I’d only known as Instagram followers but quickly bridged to friends.  As the only Canadian in the room of almost 30, I felt humbled by the warmth and hospitality with which I was welcomed.  At the front, Ed held quiet court with a few people I didn’t recognize.   I took a seat and continued catching up with old friends and new.

When the room was packed and the time was right, Ben made introductions and we were immediately passed over to Ed who jumped right in.  Throughout the first day ,we covered:

  • restraints,
  • irregular custody,
  • weapons,
  • awareness and movement principles,
  • custody work, and;
  • a homework assignment to make improvised weapons.

I’m being deliberately vague with the above as if I get into greater detail, I’ll be writing all night and also because it’s better to experience it first-hand for yourself.

There were several takeaways from the day, not the least of which were that I need to do more yoga, focus on Endemics and “always have an escape plan”.  Sound advice for anyone.

The evening went well with food and drink around the corner and making new friends and sharing stories.  I especially felt humbled that I spent a fair amount of time speaking with Ed himself about the various Mexican mythologies and esoteric symbologies used by criminal groups.  Combining the entire evening’s discussions made for an educational, eye-opening and, at times, hilarious time.  Let’s just not rehash the saga of Jaramillo…

Some of us now know of Jaramillo. We shall not speak of his fate.

Day 2

Entering the training location on Day 2 we were greeted at the door by metal detector and pat-down to see if we had absorbed and followed the previous days lessons and completed our homework.  The resulting “found” and “not found” tables displaying weapons of various varieties was quite interesting.

Top , found. Bottom, not found.

 

Banana…

We debriefed and had a chuckle over some stuff (the legendary banana shank and, we even had Tactikey represented!) and then moved right into improvised weapons & Shankology.  We covered:

  • Improvised weapons,
  • targeting,
  • knife work (inside and outside),
  • urban movement fundamentals and;
  • various hood rat shit.

By the time we ended on Sunday afternoon, I felt overloaded with new information and lessons learned.  So much had been fed to us that it would take me weeks to digest it all.

On a side note, I had come from Toronto (snowy and -10C) to Washington (drizzle and +10C) and was contacted by Air Canada that my flight was cancelled and I had been re-booked to the following morning.  This threw off my plans back home, but I made the most of it and spent the evening out for dinner again with Ed, Ben and several others from the course.  Many chicken wings and drinks later, we broke off and headed out.

My time over the weekend both training with Ed and Ben as well as socializing with them made me happy to have attended and to get to know them.

Ben (of DC Combatives) and I.  What a great guy.

Ben was very welcoming and Ed was a wealth of information and selfless in his sharing of knowledge.  So much so that I invited him to come to Toronto this year and to put on a similar seminar.  It would be an honour if he can make it work with his schedule.

Ed and I. At the end of the weekend we were given the opportunity to choose a card. I asked for Ed to choose. This is what I got. “El Diablito”.  Very humbled.  Thank you.

***IF/WHEN WE HAVE A DATE, WE WILL POST IT IMMEDIATELY HERE ON THE BLOG AND ON OUR SOCIAL MEDIA*** (Give us a follow so you don’t miss out!)

I am very happy to have gone and would recommend attending a seminar from Ed if you are able.  The training was excellent and the information covered was wide and relevant.  If you live in the Washington, DC area, do check out Ben and DC Combatives as the types of violence mitigation methodologies he teaches are grounded in reality and effective.  If he was in Toronto, I’d certainly train there.

Thank you to both Ed Calderon and Ben Drader for having me as the lone Canadian at the training seminar.

For further information about the topics and training seminars covered here, see the links below:

Till next time, stay safe and stay crafty.