What’s In YOUR Ditty Bag…?

According to John Rogers in Origins of Sea Terms: a Ditty Bag is “a small bag in which a sailor keeps small tools and equipment, also personal articles” .

My friend Jerry [aka: Snaggletooth] from my hammocking circles was kind enough to let me re-blog his post about what he keeps in his. He has really managed to cram an awful lot of small quantities of possible needs into a small volume.

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BAG 1: Survival

  • Space blanket
  • Write in rain paper
  • Coffee Filter
  • Duct tape square
  • Plastic Mirror
  • Electrical tape and screw
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Tooth Pick, bobby Pin, Needle, paper clip,Shrink tube
  • Pencil with Duct tape
  • Aluminum clip
  • Tin Foil
  • Braided cord
  • Water purification Tabs
  • Esbit Fuel
  • Knife
  • Mini Bic
  • Laundry lint (cotton)[fire starter]
  • Fire starter chunk
  • Fire steel striker and jute

BAG 2-: First Aid

  • Misc Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Burn Cream
  • Neosporin
  • Mole skins
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Ora-gel
  • General Ointment
  • Insect bite aid
  • Aspirin
  • Mucinex
  • Tums
  • Lorazepam
  • Ibuprofen
  • ALeve
  • Anti-diarrhea

Bag 3: Hygiene

  • Pre Ivy towel
  • Mini towel
  • Boogie wipe
  • Insect repellent
  • Witch hazel towel
  • Floss packets
  • Gum picks
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hand lotion
  • Baby powder
  • Multi chap tube
  • Q-tip
  • Itch cream
  • Razor
  • Comb
  • Reading glasses

He also has a BAG 4: with TP, Baby wipes  spade [cathole tool?], and bandana

He told me that he gets many of these “smalls” in small quantities from Minimus.biz [free s&h with $20 orders]

Thanks for the post and info, Snagg…

You Get What You Pay For…

Another purchase from the strange Hong Kong jobbers 11-11 sale was these three small “neck knives”.

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They are badly executed copies of the fairly classic C.R.K.T/Doug Ritter Mk5. They sacrifice the Ritter’s Kydex sheath for one of a reasonably decent leather, and claim to be 420-C steel, but they really don’t measure up. On one of the units they had failed to even bother feeding the lanyard cord through the eye on the handle. It may not even be fair to call these Mil-Tec knives copies. They make no representation, other than visually, to be a Mk5. And there are certainly omissions. Notably in the lack of the jimping [those little slits for grip] on the spine and finger choil, and the missing blade holes for lashing to a pole.

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Side-by-side with my several year-old original/genuine knife, you can see some of the differences right off. The biggest being that the Mil-Tec ones are severely ground in a “sabre”cut [the blade thickness is reduced toward the edge by grinding the flat down before adding an even steeper angle to be finished for sharpness]. The Ritter is fully flat, tapering smoothly from the spine down to the edge-grind. The Chinese units are abysmally dull. The sabre-cut is not even taken down far enough to overcome the overall thickness of the knife blank. The edge cut ends up being far too steep to give a decent cutting edge without refinishing. You can see the difference in the blank thickness in the first photo below. The Ritter starts out with a thinner blank at the spine, and the finished knife is also longer and much more evenly tapered than the Mil-Tec version. Then, in the second shot, you a can see that the sabre-cut portion of the Chinese blades even retains the rotational curves of the grinding machine. Where on the Ritter you can barely make out the edge-grind at all, on the Chinese version it is quite obvious.

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HOWEVER… [you were expecting a however, weren’t you?]   It is exactly that extra blade thickness that will give these knives their redeeming point.

I have never seen the point to wearing a “neck-knife” that dangles with the handle pointing down… they seem to invite loss in a messy situation. My intention instead is to include these clones in Altoid can sized emergency kits. If you have read the posts previously on here about survival/emergency kits you will understand that I always include a mini-multitool of the Leatherman Micra/Gerber Dime variety in the ones I make up for myself or for friends. These minis already have a good blade for cutting, along with the other tools. I want the “Mk5’s” for their usefulness in batoning [splitting] small-wood for fires. Their edges can easily be sharpened up to that point, and that extreme blade thickness makes them sturdy enough to stand up to the pounding. I was looking for a tool… not any refinement.

I think that getting a fire together can be the single most important part of an emergency situation. Getting some wood larger than twigs is vital to an efficient fire. The wood inside is almost always drier that that outside… hence quicker to get burning. Those little multitools are great. You can easily run up a feather-stick to catch fire, but I like the idea of something small but sturdy to get some bulk on there as well.

The final “however” here is that the sale price of all three Chinese knives was less than a SuperMochaFrappucinnoHalfCafHalfDecaf at your local coffee house… $5.64US. At that price they are just fine. You get what you pay for.

“Everyday” Altoids Tin Kit

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I thought I would toss this one up here quickly… I think of it as sort of a “Takin’ Care of Bidnizz” kit.

A fellow by the name of Mike Winter made up this particular variation on the standard Altoids rig. Rather than for any kind of real emergency or survival situation, this one is simply geared toward all the little annoyances an ordinary day can throw your way.

Hit up the link>> for the original post and a detailed list of the items over at Everyday Carry .

Something Absurdly Simple

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I freely admit to being a “scrounger”. I salvage, save, “preserve”, conserve etc. any number of things that otherwise would just go in the trash bin. Sometimes it works out unexpectedly.

The piece in the photo above is the rubber finger-grip off of an old gel-pen that got tossed out. I pull the grippies off figuring they might come in handy to put on the handle of some small tool or other, at some point in future time. I found this one hanging out in a bowl when I was doing a bit of cleanup just now.

A couple of weeks ago, I found some old brass, 45 cal. pistol casings and had played around with them, blowing across the top to see what kind of freebie peep-whistle they might make for emergency kits. Imagine my surprise when I put my finger over one end of this little piece of rubberized tubing and it emitted a piercing shriek… F# below middle C.  It is as loud, and carrying as any emergency whistle I have ever seen.

Best of all, because it is of rubber, it will squish down flat and pack into a kit taking up much less room… and much more flexibly.

The bad news is: I pulled out several other grips I had saved and none of them produce any kind of clear note at all. Win some, lose some. I have no idea at all what kind of pen this might have come off of, but all the other grips are of a softer, more “silicone-gel”-like material. They are all too flimsy to produce a clear note. This one however is a champ. It’s going right into my kit.

Always look around, see what you might find. You never know what comes in handy for the most unusual application. That’s what your junk drawer is for…

Mini Multi-Tools WITH a Light! Wowie-zowie!

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[>Seeing a pricepoint spread like this does not give you much confidence in the product represented. $.99 to $15 for nearly identical tools is quite a bit of range. I was pleased to see that Cabela’s themselves have removed the “mini multitool with light” from their offerings. As I recall, they were asking $19.99 retail in the stores.<]

Just to start off, I need to say that I was prejudiced against these next three tools from the moment I saw them in the photograph on eBay. They were just going to be part of the crap I bought in the hopes that some of the other pieces were worthwhile.
To me they were the classic POC. I knew that I had seen them hanging in a blister pack down at Cabelas in a version that was ridiculously priced just because it carries a Cabelas’s logo. I also knew that I could get them direct from Hong Kong, with free shipping, for a fraction of that price. In fact, they were the sort of thing that I expected to find down at the Dollar Store sooner or later… and wouldn’t have bought even then. Regardless of the source, every picture I had seen of them indicated to me that they were cheap, shoddily made, and worthless.

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These are the three that were included in my TSA lot. What I found out once I actually had them in my hand, was that they come in quite a variety of crappinesses. The truly frustrating part is that each of the three units mixes some really crappy features with others that aren’t that bad at all. And a further frustration is the handles on all three are force riveted, unlike some of the other mini tools that actually feature screw-together “rivets”… so no “mix-and-match” hacking to try to salvage some value.
The most surprising part was that each of them does feature pliers that are quite decent. They are nearly as good as the ones on my $30 Leatherman P4. Reasonably heavy-duty, needle-nose jaws, with overlapping wire cutters, and no wiggle or play. The pliers are so similar to each other that my suspicion is that the Chinese factories that produce these individual multi-tools may very well outsource the plier jaws from a single supplier.

Each of them includes the same basic form factor  and tool features:  The pliers, a small “pocketknife” blade, a serrated  “saw” blade, a skinny Philips head screwdriver, and a standard screwdriver blade with bottle-opener combo. They each also feature a miniature LED light that turns on and off by screwing and unscrewing the bulb-end.

The biggest differences were in the blades and the quality of the miniature lights.

The unit on the left is a complete Loser… We will capitalize it this time… it deserves it. The knife blade is dull and the light was DOA. It is so badly threaded and fitted that when you unscrew the tip to turn it off there is very little pressure against the batteries, and a couple of them had turned over and shorted out. It is also the only one of the three that I received where the blades are not accessible without unfolding the pliers.

The one at the bottom is marginally better. The knife blade is hollow ground, and was already razor-sharp. The teeth on the serrated blade we’re also much more aggressive. The screwdrivers were identical to the first one, giving rise again to the idea that some of the parts maybe sourced from a single supplier regardless of who assembled it, or how it’s branded. Where this one falls down is in the clunky flashlight. It’s so large in diameter that it doesn’t even fold flush into the handle. However, it provides the best illumination of the three.

Finally, the black multitool at the top features the same aggressive serrated blade, and has my favorite light of the three, but falls down by providing a cheapo blade that lands someplace between those in the other two units. It did take a reasonably sharp edge off of the diamond stone, but I don’t count on it holding it for very long.

It also should be noted that all three of these use the nonstandard AG 13 batteries for the little lights. When the batteries provided burn out, these will be hard to find and expensive to replace. I suspect you will pay more for the batteries than you would’ve for one of these multi-tools at retail.

The verdict?: With my cost of only $2 a piece, these are not too bad. If you paid the $5-$20 at retail or discount, you would feel severely disappointed. That said, if you just need a tool to toss the desk drawer and have handy for opening packages or tightening up the screws on your computer case, this might be just your thing… At the lower end the price scale we’re still not approaching the cost of a of even one of smaller multitools from Leatherman, SOG, or Gerber. These blades ought to hold an edge long enough to be minimally useful, and having any kind of light handy when you need to find something you’ve dropped under the furniture is not a bad thing. However, the clunky form factor means that these would be fairly uncomfortable in your pocket. For my part, I will drop these into a couple of little pocket emergency kits to give away to kids or put them in a Geocache. They are certainly nice enough that if you got one for free or found it in a Geocache you wouldn’t be disappointed

Check back in the next couple of days, when I get around to the review of the four remaining units from my TSA purchase, you will see that there are indeed some mini multi-tools that can satisfy my 50/90 criteria that would be a far better use of your money when paying retail instead of buying some of these TSA confiscations.

 

 

 

The river “Treasure” repacked …and repacked …and repacked

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You may remember the Altoids Survival Tin that the dog and I found down along the river.  It had some nice things in it, most notably the Swiss Army knife. However, it was also really badly lacking in a lot of basic needs.

Here is my version, to fit in the same tin. Clockwise from 12 [w/ some links]:

  1. a simple ziplock baggie- H2O carry
  2. 2 long, sturdy toothpick/skewers and one orangewood true toothpick… I gotz baaad teeth
  3. [the black thing] a heavy duty twist/fold tie
  4. the pins etc. from the original
  5. that cool ResQme-Red whistle
  6. WetFire tinder/flame cube
  7. some StormFire matches and some from the original kit w/striker
  8. a cheapo Chinese Mini compass that actually points North [or at least to where my other compasses point]
  9. Razor Knife/Saw Combo Tool [WHOA! This link is charging an arm and a leg for something that I got at $2.98 a pair!] This was to replace the full Swiss Army knife that was in the tin when it was found. That heavy a knife is simply overkill and over-crowding. Carry a decent knife in your pocket EDC.
  10. one of my DIY first aid packs
  11. A roll of dental floss
  12. 8′ for mason’s twine
  13. a “walk-out” light– this one was in a two-pak at the dollar store

Even being pretty generous with an estimate on cost, all of the stuff couldn’t have gone more than $5. Think ahead about what you need/might want and what would fit. Then you just have to start to look around, pick up stuff as you find it, scrounge a little, visit a couple of the dollar stores and the roadside tool tents and pretty soon you’ll find you have everything you need. And more than likely, enough stuff to make up several kits for the whole family, or to give your buddies.

Scrounge is the name of the game. You don’t even have to be very fancy to find something perfectly acceptable to tote a decent kit of emergency items around in.

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Here are ALL of the same items simply pushed into an old cigarette pack and all the same stuff in a heavy “disposable” vinyl pouch that some dog chews for my labrador came in. Both of these could just go into the trash without a thought, but both of them are perfect containers for an emergency kit. Either one will slip easily right into a pocket so that you are more likely to take it along. Just a strip of duct tape to seal them closed and you’re ready to go.

The best thing about making up an emergency kit is that it makes you think about what you might need, and starts you thinking about getting “out there”.

Remember: “You don’t know what you might need until you don’t have it”.

Be Safe- Be Prepared… Onward Thru the Fog