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:
When preparing to go (either to the airport, train/bus station sea port, etc – it applies to all equally), ensure you charge all of your devices and that you have the appropriate connectors and adaptors for the region in which you will be travelling.
Take an empty water bottle and some snacks with you so that you can refill it post-security and always have a drink. You never know when you may be delayed and airports are notoriously expensive.
At the airport, keep your passport and ticket/boarding pass hidden to avoid people targeting you and gleaning information about you and your travel. As you walk through the airport, keep an eye open for places of cover should an attack occur. Columns and pillars, concrete planters, walls and corners as well as exit stairwells can offer ballistic protection. Try to stay away from public-side-facing windows.
As a general rule, try to pack for quick and easy movement. Travel light and fast. I avoid checking a bag if I can which enables easier movement and less of a chance of lost luggage. Stick with low-profile, non-tactical-looking luggage and bags. The only downside is that if you’re travelling with items prohibited from going in the cabin of the plane, you’ll be forced to check a bag. DO NOT try to sneak anything through security as it’ll either be seized (best case) or you’ll end up arrested (worse) depending on the local laws.
Here’s another tip: DON’T AGREE TO TAKE SOMEONE ELSE’S BAGS FOR THEM! It doesn’t matter if it’s an old lady, a “man of the cloth” or a child “travelling alone”. Carry only your bags, keep a vigilant watch over them at ALL times, don’t leave them unattended and say no to anyone asking you to carry something for them.
If you find yourself waiting on the public side of an airport or rail terminal, keep your eyes open for suspicious activity. Set yourself up where you have a good vantage point and no one behind you, close to cover. If you observe someone suddenly get up and walks away from a bag or parcel, quickly find cover and tell security services. If you leave your bags unattended, you risk losing them to security.
While travelling, do your best to be aware of the local news and goings-on. This can give you a feel for the local environment in which you find yourself and to possibly give you a heads-up in case of impending bad weather, criminal threats or civil unrest.
ALWAYS secure your passport. It is the most important item you have when travelling abroad. And depending on the country of issue, it can be worth upwards of $50k on the black market.
When you arrive to your destination and have cleared customs/immigration, you can then “tool up” with any gear you have legally transported or acquire locally-sourced tools.
Do your best to blend in with the local population. Look at online photos of locals and get a sense for what they wear and how they go about their days. Consider stopping by a local store to purchase similar clothing to wear while you’re “in country” and then leave them behind when returning home. With this method, you are essentially renting a “persona”and will bring down your visibility as a tourist to some degree. Leave your “5.11 Tuxedo” at home and get something local instead. Oakleys, Salomons and 5.11 pants and shirt that all say “covert” are usually anything but.
If you’re in a situation where no amount of “low-key” will do it (such as travelling with your family or in a group) do the best you can and always remain polite. A smile and a kind word can go a long way in the right context. With this in mind, don’t discuss your personal life with strangers. You don’t know who they are or how they could use that information against you. Steer your conversations about their home country under the auspices of learning more about them.
When travelling to and from your accommodations (or any base), vary your route and timings and maintain your situational awareness at all times so that you’re not being observed or followed.
When moving around, don’t carry all of your cash in the same place on your person. Break it up across your pockets, decoy wallet and other stashes. Use credit cards when you can to reduce the visibility of cash.
When on the ground, take a few mins to orientate yourself to the area using your maps and the local geography. Look for common landmarks and pay attention while being transported from the airport.
When you’re first able, make contact and touch base with the folks back home to give them a status report that you’ve landed and what your situation is. This allows those back home to have a time marker as to when was the last contact they had with you, where you were and what you were doing should something happen.
Beware of situations where you are consuming alcohol or drugs (say no to drugs, even if the jerk-off on the beach tells you it’s completely legal, you have no idea what is in it and if you’re being set-up) in the company of those who you do not trust completely. Also, try and stick to bottles and cans instead of drinks mixed out of view, lest someone spike it. And never leave your drink unattended or unobserved.
**The video below shows exactly how easy it is to have your drink spiked**
While travelling around, try to use ride-sharing services like Uber of Lyft over taxis as they are more reliable with better kept records of your trips. You’re also less likely to be robbed (as you don’t require cash to take a ride with them) and if something goes wrong, the driver, car and trip details are all stored with you and the company. If taxis are your only option, prior to getting in, ask for how much it would cost and take a look inside to ensure all looks legit and there are door handles in back. Either way, ALWAYS have a method of escape (some form of window breaker) to get out should something go sideways.
On the more likely side, you’re also more likely to be the victim of “tourist pricing” when arranging rides. For example, a local taking a taxi may only get charged $4 whereas a tourist will get charged $40 for the same ride.
Change money in banks or approved locations with security, not back alley “cambios” where you might get mugged after people know you have cash.
When buying supplies in local stores, keep an eye on the price tags that are on articles and ask what currency they represent. And if they start taking prices off articles as they “ring them in”, you’re being scammed. They’ll present you with a price which you won’t be able to recall and you’ll be left wondering what happened. You’re better served to walk away and try elsewhere unless you’re really in a jam.
When checking into your accommodations, ensure that the bellhop goes in first, and that the lights are on. Check every nook and crannyImmediately ensure that the doors and locks are all in working order and use a door wedge to secure the door once you’re alone and have engaged all of the locks. Draw the curtains and turn on the tv when you’re not in your room and hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the knob.
In respect to OPSEC (OPerational SECurity), ensure that you aren’t posting too much on social media which can identify things like your room, locations you’re visiting and valuables you may have on you. Post after you’ve returned or at least left the location.
In the event of a disaster or large-scale event, make your way by whatever means necessary to the Canadian (in my case) or alternately, to an allied nation’s embassy for protection and support. The United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand or another Commonwealth country will support you when carrying a Canadian passport.
Situational awareness, pre-planning, having local currency (and knowing the exchange rate) and a resilient mindset will help deal with most problems you would encounter on your travels. Travel light, travel low-profile and arm yourself with as much knowledge about the area you’ll be in. Remember, low-profile equals a difficult target.
I recently discovered a new self-defence product – Tactikey.
Tactikey is an upgrade on an old-school, low-tech means of self-defence. The old “punch them with your keys” technique, except with some modern upgrades.
The product itself is a small (1 x 1.75 x 0.5 in), lightweight (6.5 g) and strong (TPE 110 Composite material) designed to ergonomically accept a standard Kwikset house key and give it a platform to use as an impact weapon. This design is helpful in reducing injury to the defender’s hand while allowing the transference of force through the key point to the assailant’s soft tissues.
The combination of supporting grip and solid metal point is surprisingly effective and protects the user from injury well, unlike an un-shrouded key being used for the same thing.
When I received my package of a few Tactikeys and was caught by several positive things:
VERY easy to add to your key ring
Usable in non-permissive environments and will likely not raise any red flags if inspected by authorities
Allow the key to be used for it’s intended function AND as a self-defence implement and;
Comes in your choice of Blaze Orange, Hot Pink or Carbon Black.
Along with the personalized note from them, I immediately equipped my Tactikey and went to work playing around with it.
I found that holding it was comfortable. The finish on the grip was soft and smooth but didn’t slip.
It intuitively holds well between the fingers and stays solid when striking.
I had access to a building site where walls were being replaced and took a few jabs at drywall and lathe & plaster. The results were good (see below).
I was able to make holes in both mediums without pain or injury to my hand. The regular (un-sharpened key) penetrated both types of walls with relative ease making me feel confident that it could cause trauma to soft tissue on a hostile human target.
As it is a simple piece of plastic, Tactikey can go anywhere a set of keys can go and will always be ready as an added force multiplier if you should need it. I have added this to my Every Day Carry (EDC) as it is useful, lightweight, practical and effective. Along with the other items I carry, I feel it is a wise investment and doesn’t add bulk of weight to your setup.
Although I haven’t had the opportunity to hit a person with it at this point, I’ll be sure to update this post with those results, should they occur. That said, punching holes in drywall happened very easily and I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a hit with one of these.
Tactikey also has a fantastic return policy on it’s product (from their website):
“30 Day 110% Return Policy – Purchase with Confidence. We at Tactikey work tirelessly to develop the world’s most unique and efficient EDC products that will help you achieve well-being and safety. We believe in our products so much that we stand behind them with a no hassle, no questions asked, satisfaction guarantee 110% return policy. If you purchase any Tactikey product on our website Tactikey.com and you are not satisfied, return it within 30 days for a 110% refund. The guarantee is applicable to all purchases made from Tacktikey.com only and does not cover Tacktikey retailers. Retail purchases will be handled by the particular retail store’s return policy. That is our commitment at Tactikey to you our customers.”
Instructions on the use of Tactikey can also be found on their website here.
The one and only downside with Tactikey is that it is only compatible with Kwikset key blanks at the moment. If your house key or other keys on your ring are not of this kind, they may not fit properly. That said, Tactikey is working on different formats for several other major key manufacturers (like Schlage and Yale) and customers will be able to choose which works for them. In the grand scheme, this isn’t a big deal. They will come out with others soon and, really, I’d sooner have a dedicated defensive key (a blank, sharpened) than my primary house key. If you do hit something or someone and bend it, you may have issues using your key after. Not to mention if you lose it in a fight, buddy will have your house key. I’d sooner have a non-key. I used an old, out of commission Kwikset key I had laying around for my test & carry key to ensure that doesn’t happen. I will pick up a Kwikset blank and sharpen it with a file for primary EDC use in the coming days to ensure I have it the way I want it. You can pick up a Kwikset blank from anywhere that cuts keys (Home Depot, local hardware stores, shoe repair places, etc) and just ask them for one. Again, not a big deal right now as you’re best off to go with a dedicated key or key blank for this particular use.
Have a look at their website, check them out on social media and feel free to pick one up for yourself and maybe some family members. For the money, I thinks it’s a great deal and you get something solid and useful. I really like it and I bet you will too.
A while back I came across a Kickstarter campaign for the BAT (Bring Anywhere Tool) Coin from Covert Products Group. https://www.covertproductsgroup.com They were just starting off about a year about and when I read through the campaign details, I was intrigued. They had designed a “10-in-1” tool that was small, lightweight, inexpensive, useful and capable of carriage through airports and other non-permissive environments. So I supported the campaign, if for no other reason to see if what they had designed was worth having.
Having recently received my lot of coins, I began to carry and test them. I am pretty impressed with this little guy. BATs go for about $25 USD each on the CPG website and I also received a sticker and morale patch along with it. Fast shipping. Nothing to complain about.
From their website, here are the BAT Coin features:
1) Modified Phillips head screwdriver with three prongs so the BAT lays flat in your pocket
2) Safe, semi-sharp captured edge for opening boxes
3) Scribe point or hole punch
4) Small-gauge wire stripper
5) Fire-steel scraper (use it with any ferro rod survival fire starter, Swedish firesteel or similar item)
I look at it as a minimalist, last-ditch or tertiary backup to my regular Every Day Carry (EDC) but because it is both innocuous and concealable, not to mention relatively effective, I am happy to have and carry it.
For something so small, I’d thought maybe they’re reaching a bit, however, upon using it here and there, though it may not be an equivalent to a full-sized tool times ten, it does manage to do each job fairly well, especially in a pinch. I would recommend, as CPG does, to use something like a key ring to give you extra leverage to open bottle caps as the diminutive size of the BAT makes it hard to get enough leverage.
The BAT is made out of stainless steel and has a nice finish to it. It is small, lies flat and is about the size of a Canadian twoonie (The Canadian $2 coin for those of you who don’t know). As it is smaller than any other tool and is not intrinsically disallowed, both CATSA and the TSA allow it with you through security at airports.
I’d recommend the BAT Coin to anyone who would like to have a little something to add to their EDC that will add some functionality without bulk and the added bonus of being as inconspicuous as loose change. I will also keep an eye on CPG for future product developments and releases.