Category Archives: Product Review

Coast HP7R Rechargeable Flashlight Review

A few months back the kind folks at Coast Portland asked if I’d be willing to test out one of their flashlights at the firehouse.  Sadly I was still in an office and had little to no need for a flashlight.  Hoping buy tadalafil cialis things would change I told them my situation and they asked me to give them a shot as flashlights, not necessarily as firefighting flashlights.

Done.

I looked at their website and the HP7R immediately caught my eye.  Compact, LED and capable of being recharged from the wall, not just from a mount in the Captain’s buggy, meant versatility.

This flashlight is heavy duty.  She’ll put out 201 lumens for 7 hours 45 minutes on high and last almost 2 full days at 22 lumens.

For those of you that don’t speak flashlight, that means if you accidentally leave it on it’ll last a long time.  As someone who has eaten through more AAs than I’d care to share this was a big feature for me.

Even bigger was the ability to recharge the flashlight’s 2 Lithium Ion batteries as well as back them up with a standard alkaline battery cartridge that’ll take the AAAs.  Being able to quick change a battery for such a powerful flashlight is awesome.

Even more awesome is that I already have the charger.  The Lithium Ion batteries can be recharged with a micro USB connection, the same one I use to charge my phone and a number of other gadgets around the house.  This means no shortage of cables and cords, both AC and DC, but just in case you are an iPhone house, both adapters are included in the box. (as are the AAA batteries BTW)

And now the bad news:

This is not a good flashlight for being a Paramedic.

First, to cycle through the low and high light output modes, you have to cycle through a strobe feature that would make some emergency scenes downright dangerous.

Secondly, the beam focus is a slide in and out feature, not a twist to focus.  The slide focuses the beam and a slight twist “locks” it into place.  However, the lock is so weak it constantly gives way, especially when deploying it from the belt holster (also included).

However, I didn’t give up on this flashlight.

I took it camping.

IMG_20140903_141527003This is the ultimate camping flashlight.  It is compact and lightweight, fitting on our hiking pack no problem, taking up almost as much space as the multi-tool.  the extra batteries can charge off the 12v system in the van on the way to camp and off the 12v trailer system if we somehow go through all 3 batteries.

The low light setting is perfect for night trips to the bathroom and the high feature makes scanning camp for bears easy.  No, seriously, I can actually say I tested this light looking for bears.  There were none, but that’s beside the point.

And if we ever get lost on a hike that strobe feature will no doubt be seen for 306 meters, just like the box says.

 

In conclusion, this is a versatile light for non-emergency situations (except for bears and getting lost of course.)  The ability to have extra batteries ready to go, as well as plug the light itself into adapters I already have means I’ll always be able to get light when I truly need it.

At $147.49 it may seem pricy but the features I’ve mentioned mean that added to the ruggedness of the construction I may never need another flashlight or batteries for a flashlight.  Like, ever.

 

Here are the specs from Coast Portland

  • Long Range Focusing Optic
  • Slide Focus
  • 201 lumen light output
  • 7 hour 45 minute runtime
  • 306 meter (1003 ft) beam distance
  • Battery type: Lithium Ion (2 included) or 4 x AAA (included)
  • Can be charged using AC, DC or USB power sources
  • Aluminum casing; rear switch
  • Impact and water resistant
  • Includes wall mount, speed clip, and heavy-duty sheath
  • Length: 5.58 in. / 14.2 cm
  • Weight: 7.2 oz. / 204 g
  • Diameter: Body – 1.18 in / 3.00 cm; Bezel – 1.47 in / 3.74 cm

 

#EveryDayReview – Republic Wireless

#EveryDayReview

 

From time to time you’ve likely noticed I try to chat you up about a new product that was sent to me for review.  Maybe you took my advice and grabbed some gear for work or ignore the blog when I post a product review.  I hope it’s the former.

Today I’m introducing a new feature, #EveryDayReview.  This will be an exciting product or service I use in my personal life that I just want to share.  I’m not getting the product to test, I’ve already tested it and endorsed it the best way I know how: I bought one/use it/ subscribe!

 

Let’s jump into a common topic: Cellular service.

I recommend Republic Wireless.

Republic Wireless is my mobile phone provider and I could not be happier with their concept, products or service.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a T-Mobile customer hacking an iphone from ebay to get better use of the data service we were paying through the nose for.

A few years later wandering Costco and about to lose support for my hacked iphone we saw a great deal on Verizon Droid phones.

FREE phone with 2 year contract!

It wasn’t until years later we realized the cost of the phone is rolled into the ridiculous cost of service.

Republic Wireless also takes advantage of a secret your wireless carrier doesn’t want you to know:

They know most of your time is within wireless internet range, yet still charge you upwards of $75 a month for access to 4g internet.  Why?  Half the time I’m at home on wireless I already pay for or at work connected, why pay so much for my phone plan only to spend most of my time on wireless internet?  We did the math.  Only when commuting to and from work was I not on wireless, a total of 40 hours a month give or take.  40 hours / $75 4g plan:

Verizon was effectively charging me $1.87 an hour.  The rest of the time I was on wifi I already paid for.  Are you the same?  Want to drastically reduce your bill without losing service?

Republic Wireless is the answer.

Phone plans start at $5 a month.  Yes, $5 a month gets you calls and data over wireless networks only.

Want a little more?  How about $10 for cellular calls and data over wireless only?

I’m at the $25 plan which gives me unlimited* 3g data and cell calls over the Sprint network.

For $40 you get 4g coverage so you can stream Netflix without a wireless connection.

*Go over 5g in a month twice in 6 months and you might get throttled, but no fees. Go 6 months without going over and you get a pass next time.

How do they do it so cheap?  Your phone prefers to make calls over the wireless instead of the cell network.  Anytime you’re connected to wifi, BOOM, you can make calls.

Republic Wireless MotoXWe got the MotoX and it’s a great handset.  We paid upfront for the phones, but considering the cost savings month to month we were ahead of the game in 5 short months.  Not to mention our grandfathered Verizon unlimited data plans were worth a few hundred bucks on ebay!

The service still has a few glitches switching a call from wireless to the cell network, but I rarely keep talking when leaving the house so only noticed this problem when testing the system early on.

Below is a screenshot from my MotoX.  See the little green arch near the green llama?  That’s the Republic Wireless happy green arch letting me know I’m completely on wifi. The llama is unrelated, I swear.

Republic Wireless PlansAnother neat option: you can change plans twice a billing cycle.  When we were going out of the country and not expecting cell service, we bumped the plans down to the $5 plan and made and received calls off the wifi in the beach house in Belize (when the router worked).

When we hit the states, we simply told the phone to update the plan.  A few minutes later and a restart on the phone and it was done.

No sense paying full price for a service you’re not using full time.

In addition to a killer concept and competitive pricing, Republic Wireless thrives on the community the users have created.  Never before have I had a company engage on social media so swiftly and accurately.

Downside?  3g means less streaming of Pandora though some service areas (it is the Sprint network after all) and that’s about it, really.  They can port most numbers and now even allow porting of Google Voice numbers.

The next time you’re looking at your budget and wondering how to get that cell phone bill down to a reasonable level, take a look at Republic Wireless.  You’ll pay for the phone, but far less than a free phone and inflated monthly fee from the other guys.

 

I use Republic Wireless and love it!

Happy Feet – the Blauer 6″ Clash Boot Review

Blauer has been making boots longer than I’ve been wearing them and the Clash Waterproof line shows they’re still improving on the concept.

In my career I’ve worn all manner of boot from slip ons (yuck) to steel toed zip ups (Big City fireman boots!) to whatever was cheap at the uniform

store.

I’ve reviewed Magnum Boots in the past and enjoyed their fit and specs and the Blauer Clash did not disappoint.

Often I give the boots I review a thorough testing period through random Engine Company duties such as footing ladders in drills, PT, footing gurneys etc but my new gig doesn’t have much of that but it does have one thing most jobs don’t:

Walking.

I do a lot of walking where I am and having a comfortable boot to do it in is essential.  The Clash 6″ is far more flexible out of the box than I expected and it fit my foot well in my regular duty socks.  No extra thick hiking socks needed here to fill gaps.  There is no safety toe which may exclude it from some EMS and Fire duty, but as a supervisor I can get by without it, especially since I have the option at work of wearing a dress shoe instead of my boots.

The Clash has a number of features that set it aside and the first one that caught my attention before putting it on was the goofy looking disc on the front.  I say goofy looking because, well, this boot has no laces, zipper, or other discernible method of applying pressure to snug the boot.  They reminded me of Marty McFly Jr’s shoes from October 2015…wait a minute…that’s next year!

That disc is part of the new BOA system, a steel cable that is tightened by spinning the disc and loosened by pulling the disc forward.  I’ll admit I was skeptical at first but the disc does what they say and I am able to quickly don the boots and tighten as well as release and don turn out boots (in case I need a safety toe…see?)

The BOA system does take some getting used to but as soon as you learn your comfort level, the boots begin to give support to the ankle and above right away.

However, once the boots are on and you begin to walk, and remember I do a lot of walking now, the real clever feature of this boot is revealed.  In the rear of the 6″ Clash boot is a notch about an inch deep, padded, that allows an almost full range of motion with your ankle when walking.  Where my usual boots catch and have to bend, this boot remains supportive laterally and my achilles tendon never feels stressed.

The toe takes polish like a champ but did scuff easily before I got a coat of polish on.

Another feature of the Blauer 6″ Clash Boot I didn’t expect is the almost velcro grip on the sole of the boot.  Your pal Happy is a lover, not a fighter, and I am known to wipe my feet, dirty or not, on door mats.  When I did so in my Blaur 6″ Clash boots they did not move.  The honeycomb pattern somehow grabs the flooring and won’t let me wipe my feet naturally.  Perhaps my old boots are old and worn, but this was a pleasant surprise.

 

In conclusion, the Blaur 6″ Clash Waterproof boot is a safe investment for anyone who needs a reliable boot to do a fair amount of walking.  If your agency requires a steel or safety toe sadly this won’t fit the bill, but those in law enforcement, security and some EMS agencies should certainly find them at your local shop and give them a try.  If you are doing special events or are on your feet most of the day this is the boot you’ve been looking for.

I recommend the Blauer 6″ Clash and give it a 446 out of 654 based on math I won’t bore you with (but the spreadsheet looks amazing!)

 

On a sidenote to boot manufacturers:  Stop putting your logo on the inside of the boot.  It never lasts more than a day and I’ve had that with every boot I’ve ever tried.  It makes me feel dirty when I wear them for 9 hours, then see your logo mostly gone.  That is all.

5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt Review

Back on April 1st 5.11 Tactical, a well known manufacturer of Police, Fire and EMS gear posted a video and a link to a new product, the Tactical Duty Kilt (TDK).

To me it was a well produced and conceived April Fool’s Day Joke.  Why on earth would someone need a Tactical Kilt?

In the days and weeks that followed, many online tried to order the great looking kilt from the great company, but the product page listed that it was not available to be ordered.  Instead, one would need to sign up to be emailed when the product was available.

The price – $59.99

 

Your average starter basic cotton kilt goes for 3 times that.

 

I ordered 3, one for me and one for the Angry Captain and the Mrs dad.

They arrived yesterday and at first I was skeptical.  The kilts arrived as if they were made in a factory, not hand made from my favorite company Alt Kilt.  Saying Alt Kilt is high quality is like saying Neil Armstrong once went on a walk.  My bar was set pretty high on this one and the folks at 5.11 did not disappoint.

A quick note on 5.11: They could have simply posted a link saying it was a prank, or raised the unbelievable price of $59 bucks, or even skimped on the quality and blamed it on the price.  They stepped up and sent out a great product I wish I could order more of.

 

The Design:

The TDK is a non-traditional kilt, made of rip stop fabric so tough I had trouble getting my kilt pin in the apron.  The seams are clean and tight and the front angled pockets are perfect for cash so often falling out of cargo pockets when i sit down in other kilts.  The cargo pockets are attached with 4 snaps and can be removed, leaving only the velcro closure covering the snaps, a clean design.  Within the cargo pockets are 3 subdivided areas advertised as for magazine storage for shooting, I’ll let AD or MC comment on that but mine fits my phone PERFECTLY.  No more is my phone again wandering a cargo pocket or buried in a sporran.

 

The belt loops are centered on the front and include a badge tab, but only accommodate up to a 1 3/4″ belt.  The front apron includes a hidden snap for modesty and will keep the kilt from flying open on a windy day.  It also serves when sitting, allowing a first time kilter to be comfortable and learn how to sit properly before going all out on a tartan kilt.

 

The Style:

The pleats are few.  A traditional kilt has dozens of pleats, the more contemporary kilts have more, this one gets by on the minimum.  The pleats are what allow the kilt to move with you instead of being a mini-skirt.  The snaps and material go well with the low slung cargo pockets, putting my extended arm right in them no problem.  The front pockets, again, are a great touch and take the comfort of this kilt above others I own.  The snaps make it easy to get into and out of, but I like the look and feel of buttons better.

 

The TDK is an excellent starter kilt for three reasons:

1.  The modesty snap allows for wearing without a kilt pin and can get you less nervous about a gust of wind landing you on the sex offender registry for exposing yourself at a youth soccer game.

2.  The pockets don’t require a sporran.

3.  The price of $59 means anyone can get started and have a basic item for September or whenever undies just don’t seem like the thing to wear.

 

The Drawbacks:

1.  It is so contemporary some hard core kilters may not consider it a “real kilt.”  Their problem.

2.  It’s no longer available.

 

5.11, I think, took a hit in the pocketbooks on this one.  They charged $59 for an easily $200-$300 kilt considering the materials, hardware, design and creativity it took to consider the kilt an active duty garment.

 

I tip my helmet to 5.11 for going through with this order fulfillment and having them out (almost) in time for the Kilted to Kick Cancer events (coincidence?).  Like I said, they could have told us it was a joke and we would have laughed and been bummed.  Now I’m bummed I didn’t order more.  If it ever goes for sale again, I’m in.

 

The 5.11 Tactical Duty Kilt is a top quality product for the price and was well designed to boot.  Well done.

 

 

Post about our site and win a prize! – Seems Legit

I was going to let this one go and chalk it up to a bad decision.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a popular clothing and gear manufacturer to review one of their products.  Not uncommon.  I frequently get requests to review gear, host a guest post about an online EMT class etc etc.

They’re all form letters likely sent to any email address that relates to a blog.

 

I’ve been asked to review helmets, boots, socks, you name it.  If the company sends me an honest email and meets my requirements, I review the product, write my honest review and post it.

 

99 times out of 100 the solicitation is bogus and often includes terminology reserved for Nigerian Princes.

“Please to review our new item!” etc etc.

 

When a company I respected reached out asking for a product review, I was curious to hear what they had in mind.

What they had in mind was no where close to what I expected. [my edits]

“Hi, [ no name...sure giveaway]

 

[a person you've never heard of] had initially emailed you [no they didn't but it seems like you missed it, right?] to to [poorly proofread, I mean who wrote this? Me?] let you know that we [we who?] have teamed up with [a company you respected] for a giveaway! [company] is the leading provider for law enforcement and tactical gear  and wanted to see if you would be interested in blogging about an experience that you have had using a [company] product. If you have not used [company], that’s okay too! You could also write about a product that you are interested in using. We are doing a [companyBag and yes, the lack of a space between the company prize and the word Givaway is a ... giveaway---->]Giveaway with lots of great stuff for the best blog writers!

 

If you are interested please a post [again with the proofreading!] about your experience/write about a product that you’re dying to try~!

 

To Qualify the Requirements are:

1. 300-500 words

2. This must be 100% unique and original content

3. 1 link to the main webpage ([company website])

4. 1 link to the product that you have used or would like to try out ([hint hint, here's a product we likely want to push])

 

When you have posted this article, please email  me and provide me with the URL so that you can be entered in the contest.

 

This giveaway will start Wednesday July, 11th and the winning blogger will be selected on August 31, 2012. We will enter in the URLs and randomly choose a winner. The winner will be contacted via e-mail no later than September 14, 2012. When you are contacted I will ask for all your info as to where to mail the [company prize, which is never explained] prize giveaway!

 

We wish you the best of luck!! And we hope that you decide to be a part of this amazing giveaway!

 

Good luck,

[another person you've never heard of]”

An email address not affiliated with the company reached out in Nigerian Prince fashion to ask me to review a product and write a blog post about it.

But wait!  There’s more!

If I meet the qualifications listed below I could be entered in a contest with other bloggers to win a prize?  All I had to do was review a product I had never touched, write a 300-500 word review and post a few link backs within my post to be entered to win?

 

I made a snarky comment on facebook soon after and dismissed it as a fly by night internet PR firm’s idea of drumming up site traffic.

 

Then I got an email today reminding me to get my post up soon to be considered for the contest:

“This is just a reminder about the [manufacturer deleted] giveaway contest. Time is passing by quickly! We know that sometimes there is so much to do that you don’t have time to write a lengthy post. So for those of you interested but don’t have the time, we have a different option that you can do to enter into the giveaway! Please email me for further details. For those that want to take a stab at it yourself, below are the requirements!

Thank you for you time and I wish you all luck!”

 

No I didn’t email them to get a likely canned “guest post” nor will I.  Heck, part of me wants to send this in as my entry to their “contest.”

 

Some companies understand the blogger, some go the less expensive route and hire a company or a 10th grade intern to dream up ways to drum up traffic.

Sorry, guys.  If you were aware of this you lost big points in my book.  If you didn’t know about it, you lost even more.  Either way this is a letter in your file and I hope one of your folks sees this and thinks, “Oh crap, was that us?”

 

I will refrain from mentioning the manufacturer, but if you follow me, you already know.

 

Product Review – The Magid First Aid Kit

I got an email a bit ago asking if I would review a first aid kit.  My first response was “no.”  What do I need a first aid kit for?  I’m a Paramedic and carry a second, third and fourth aid kit when I work.

It was later that week when I was at a local shop that I began to wonder what kind of first aid gear they had on hand.  I decided to ask the odd question of the kid behind the counter, “Where’s your first aid kit?”

“Um, I don’t think we have one,” was his reply.  I got out my phone in the parking lot and asked to review the kit.

The Magid First Aid Kit is the most basic of first aid kits but packs a lot of useful gear into a tiny package.

The kit is contained in a sealed rigid plastic box with a mounting handle and clear lettering gives away its function.  Inside is a variety of early intervention gear in case of a job related injury.  Now, let’s be honest from the get go.  This kit is not suitable for the crane operator at the new Trump Tower.  This is geared towards the mom and pop restaurant, car rental center or other business that doesn’t expect an injury, but may want to act quickly to address some common ailments.

The main benefit of this kit is, unfortunately, the biggest drawback.

We in EMS have all seen that beat up metal box that some businesses use for first aid before we arrive on scene.  You know the one, dented box, yellow tape, antibiotic cream that expired in 1988.  This kit is designed to keep unused gear sealed up and safe from being thrown to the ground in a panic.

To test this kit, I placed it on my workbench and went inside the house.  Then, in true Paramedic fashion, I pretended the wife had just slumped over unconscious.  I ran into the garage, grabbed the kit and opened it.  Everything fell to the ground.  Easily read was the first thing I needed labeled CPR mask.  It took 17 seconds of panicked tearing at the packaging to get it open.  However, in my panic, none of the other items were on the floor getting stained, opened or discarded.

Each item, except for the nitrile exam gloves (2 pairs) are wrapped in plastic to protect them from the nervous rifling hands of someone dealing with an emergency.

The next test, I envisioned myself with a deep laceration to the hand which allowed me only one hand to open the kit and the packages necessary to treat my wound.  Again I was met with the difficulty of tearing the packaging open with my teeth.

I thought for a good while about whether this was a benefit or a drawback and I’m leaning more benefit.  This kit is designed to be placed in a place of business and there’s a good chance someone will be there to help get the packaging open if need be.

The kit contains a good variety of first action interventions including:

Burn Dressing, 4″ x 4″

FAGUIDE  First Aid Guide

Triple Antibiotic Ointment 6

Alcohol Pad 10

Antiseptic Towelettes 10

Woven Adhesive Bandages

2” Gauze Roll

3” Gauze Pads 4

Triangular Bandage with 2 Pins

Absorbent Compress 5” x 9”

Nitrile Gloves 2 PR

CPR Shield

First Aid Scissors

Tweezers

Ice Pack

Burn Cream 6

Hydrocortisone Cream 6

Adhesive Tape 2

Insect Sting Pad 10

Eye Pad with Adhesive 2

4” Bandage Compress

Eye Wash 4oz

 

The scissors in the kit are tiny and strong, not the usual giant EMS shears common in some other kits.  The tweezers are small and tough as well and won’t rust when someone inevitably spills the eye wash on them.

 

The boxes of items are color coded blue, green and orange.  The gloves and the CPR shield are orange,  the others are roughly sorted into bleeding and non bleeding emergencies.

Enclosed is a small, and I mean small, first aid guide that gives instructions on how to use each item in a given situation.  I would like to see it larger, but for the purposes intended I think it will work nicely.

 

In conclusion I recommend this first aid kit for small businesses, offices and other locations that don’t have a medium to moderate hazard level.  This kit really is the basic of the basic but can more than handle the everyday injury and have kit to spare.  And at less than $30, it’s a nice peace of mind knowing that the kid at the front desk can apply pressure to a customer’s wound, bandage it and put ice on it before help arrives.

 

Get yours HERE from MagidGlove.