Snivel Gear

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I covet Arc’teryx gear, but I wasn’t in love with the Atom LT Hoody the first time I wore it a few months ago.

It was a frigid December morning in Virginia. The high-30s thermometer reading felt below freezing in the 17 mph winds.

This might be a good time to admit that I hate being cold. I don’t mind winter as long as I have the right combination of snivel gear.

Anyway, I was not happy each time the biting wind gusts passed right through the new jacket’s thin, stretchy side panels. I quickly regretted choosing a polo shirt as a base layer.

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The shopping days before Christmas are slipping away. Maybe you finished all your shopping before Halloween. Or maybe you are like me and still agonizing about what to get the gift-worthy gearheads in your life.

KitUp! has assembled a handful of gift ideas for the expensive-gift buyers and the bargain hunters out there. So whether its flashlights, knives or tools, the list gives you the steep (pricey) first and then the cheap (less-pricey) gift options.

Take a look:

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This does look like a handy piece of kit from Agilite.

The new Mat-Evac litter is a camping/shooting mat and rescue litter in one, Agilite officials maintain.

“For Recon troops and outdoor enthusiasts, the padding in the Mat-Evac is the difference between discomfort and the ability to sleep well outdoors. In winter, the high-density Israeli-made foam inside the Mat-Evac isolates you from the cold ground keeping you warm as well.”

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esfk_smThere are many sparking fire starters out there, and most perform pretty well. The SOLKOA Survival Systems Faststrike appeals to me more than many because it features a three-inch hacksaw blade as a striker to accompany its ”ferrocerium high-energy sparking rod.”

“Besides acting as the striker for the sparking rod, the hacksaw can be used for cutting of course and also produces excellent sawdust for use as additional tinder for a survival fire,” SOLKOA Survival Systems officials maintain.

I know this is not a new idea. I made a similar striker for my Light My Fire Swedish Fire Steel a couple of years back. It works well, but I would have just purchased this one had I known it was available.

The saw teeth create a good shower of sparks compared to the cheap sliver of metal that comes with most fire steels. Truly, a Bic lighter is the best fire starter, but the gear head in me always wants a fool-proof back up in my pack.

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IMG_1162When we decided to do reader reviews on military-style bivy shelters, we wanted to give the rest of our audience some insight on what amounts to be a substantial investment in snivel gear. We chose these three bivies because they were anything but cheap.

The Observer Plus, which retails for a little more than $700, features a duel-pole support system at the front opening and is extremely low profile. The Sabre SE, which averages about $500, has an inflatable, Airbeam support system, a large vestibule and light-signature reducing fabric. And finally, the IONOSPHERE, which costs about $200, is a roomy, well constructed shelter that will likely keep you well protected in foul weather. [click to continue…]

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NEMO’s Sabre SE features a new waterproof, breathable fabric that significantly masks light sources from inside this compact little bivy. The OSMO DC fabric does not provide full blackout capability, but it is very effective. I tested it using white, blue and red light inside; the only light that stuck out was the white light. I was truly impressed.

Like its big brother — the Gogo — the Sabre SE uses an innovative, inflatable rib, or airbeam, for support. It is a strong performer, but I found it difficult to set up and take down in a hurry.

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The Observer Plus, by Carinthia European Cold Weather Specialists, is a simple, intuitive shelter that is less a bivy bag, and more of a tent. It’s easy to use, versatile and very well constructed.

Two tent poles form a small dome at the head end which provides enough space for the user to handle a rifle lying in the prone in an overwatch position. The design slopes down from the shoulder to the foot end to prevent straight lines which are easily spotted, company officials maintain.

The Observer Plus features a large opening at the front that allows a 180-degree field of view. It has an L-shaped, zipper opening that allows the user to enter and exit from the left side. Both the observation opening and the access opening are fitted with a mosquito net. All zippers are protected by a specially designed storm flap to make them absolutely waterproof, company officials maintain.

The bag is made of Gore-Tex and is well put together. As I stated before, this is more of a tent than a pure bivy bag, as it uses tent poles, and has loops to stake it down. The whole system is very simple to use; it took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to put it up, without using a picture. Anyone could use this with minimal spin up time.

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