These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
 Where do you want
 to go on ETS?

Equipped Briefs
A Brief Look At New Gear

Fourth Quarter, 2007

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donation

Click on photos for larger image.

NovaTac LED Flashlights Report
     by Alan Romania

NovaTac Flashlights(October 2007) When I was first shown NovaTac’s new EDC Series lights at SHOT show earlier this year (Click to read report) I was impressed with the improvements made over the previous EDC lights (made by HDS Systems). After carrying one of the new EDC 120P lights for a little over three months now, it has become my favorite everyday light.

NovaTac offers the EDC Series of lights in three models; EDC (standard, non-programmable), EDC-P (programmable) and EDC-T (tactical) and each model is available either in 85 or 120 lumen versions. While I was not able to accurately test the lumen output of these lights, I was able to compare the 120 lumen light to a Surefire L2 (which is rated at 100 lumens maximum output); with both lights having fresh batteries the EDC 120P was noticeably brighter then the Surefire L2.

All of the NovaTac EDC series lights are 1” in diameter and 3.3” long and weighs 3.1 ounces including a CR123 battery. All models are water proof to 66 feet. A removable pocket-clip is included that allows a lanyard to be attached. The pocket-clip is the one complaint I have with these lights; mine does the job but fits loosely on the light and rattles when not clipped in my pocket. However, NovaTac is currently in the process of redesigning the clip.

The standard model of the EDC Series lights offers users a simple non-programmable LED light. Four pre-programmed settings offer the user a choice of three output levels (10 lumens, 42 lumens and 85 or 120 lumens) and an emergency strobe setting. Always turning on at the same 10 lumen setting, the other settings are navigated through with a series of clicks that are easily learned with a little practice. In my SHOT show review I commented that the NovaTac lights would probably not for a person looking for a simple on/off light. The standard EDC Series lights are a direct response to this concern, simplifying the operation of the light while still taking advantage of the lights adjustable output setting.

EDC120P with pocketclip and standard tailcapThe flagship of the EDC Series is the EDC-P lights. Similar to the standard EDC lights, the EDC-P has 4 directly accessible settings but unlike the standard models each setting is user programmable. The user can choose between 22 output levels from 0.3 lumens to maximum output or three different strobe settings (disorienting, S.O.S. or steady emergency strobe). Changing the output level is as simple as turning the light on to the setting you want to adjust and double click followed by pressing and holding down the switch until the output or strobe function is achieved then turning the light off. Additionally, the user can also customize the function of the light. Among the features the user can choose from are; which setting the light initially turns on to (or the last used setting), automatic button lock, automatic turn-off and two momentary push on functions. The light can also be set to lockout the ability to program the light until the light is reset.

After reading the instructions, I was able to program the light in about 5 minutes. After playing with the light for a little more than an hour I was able to program the light without using the instructions. After about a week of use I found the settings that worked best for me and haven’t changed the configuration of the light since, but the option is there should my needs change. It is very convenient having a single, pocket-sized light that I can use to assess a patient (including pupils), read a map, use as a signal and that is bright enough for tactical use, more so with a light that can be programmed to fit the individual users needs.

While I didn’t have the opportunity to test the last of the EDC Series lights, I did have the chance to play with the special tail cap of the EDC-T (Tactical) series lights. The EDC-T series lights are designed for military and law enforcement users. The EDC-T series lights come pre-programmed with the highest output setting as the primary setting but users can also choose 10 lumens, 0.3 lumens or a disorienting strobe. The tactical tail cap , which is also available as an accessory for the EDC-P, is designed to be utilized in the Thorpe technique with a handgun but the raised button makes this tail cap better suited for use with gloves.

All of the NovaTac lights are currently available; the suggested retail for the 85 lumen lights is $110 or $150 for the 120 lumen lights. NovaTac states an adapter to use two “AA” sized batteries may be available in the future, but the USB programmer that was discussed at SHOT Show is currently on hold.

Click on photos for larger image.

AMK S.O.L. Kit misses the Mark
     by Michael S. Brown aka SgtMike88Ret

SOL in Pouch(NOTE: Because I have a business relationship with Adventure Medical Kits, having designed the Pocket Survival Pak upon which I and the ETS Foundation receive royalties, it seemed best if someone unconnected with me or ETS did the a review of their latest survival kit, the S.O.L.  I was pleased when coincidently Mike happened to email his initial reactions to this kit and then volunteered to take on this assignment to produce the following article.  Enjoy! -  Doug Ritter, Editor)

(December 2007) I recently purchased an Adventure Medical Kits S.O.L. (Survive Outdoors Longer) personal “survival” kit for test and review.  I didn’t really need another PSK, but several of the listed contents and the kit’s container intrigued me.  I had to have it.

Here’s the advertised contents list:

SOL ComponentsThe S.O.L. weighs in at 5.4 ounces, of which 2.9 ounces is the Heatsheets Survival Blanket. MSRP is $25.

When I took delivery of the S.O.L., I was initially impressed by the waterproof "dry pouch" container.  It is well built and easy to see the contents through the clear flexible plastic top side. The back side is coated nylon material, bright orange.  The roll top seals out moisture and buckles securely.  Releasing the buckle is easy.

This when things start going downhill. The clear plastic top side turns out to be both a blessing and a curse.  In the optimal conditions of my den, the container grips the kit contents like a conibear trap. Retrieval and replacement of items inside the pouch is a chore.  In extreme conditions or when your hands are cold and wet, I’m betting the pouch would be ripped open in frustration, if you have the strength or grip to do that.  One handed?  Forget about it.

Emptying the pouch for the first time, I was both pleased and shocked.  Some of the contents are absolute first rate, others are bottom of the barrel.

The included HeetSheet Survival blanket is a top shelf item.  I believe it is a must have item for a survival kit.  The HeetSheets’ improved performance over the standard Mylar style emergency blanket is a well documented plus (see report in ETS SHOT Show 2006 Review - Ed.).  The S.O.L. kit, however, contains no cordage for securing the HeatSheets or making a hooch with the HeatSheets.

The duct tape roll is an excellent addition for field gear repair, the same as included in Ritter's PSP.

SOL matchesThe one and only included method of fire starting is a plastic vial housing seven matches of the wind- and waterproof “LifeBoat” type. The plastic vial has two caps; one over the match container, one over the tiny striker at the bottom of the case.  The bottom cap is the same as the top, but is stretched to fit the bigger diameter, making it very difficult to get off.  From the perspective of keeping that striker dry that’s probably a good thing, but for getting access when you have cold fingers, I suppose teeth would have to do.

In my S.O.L., however, that bottom cap was misapplied at the factory, leaving a rolled-in edge which would allow water/moisture to affect the diminutive striker. If wet, the striker would be useless, or perhaps I should say, more useless. As you can see by the picture, the striker on the bottom of the case is about the size of a 200mg Ibuprofen tablet.  When I struck the first match repeatedly, I was finally able to get it to light.  However, none of the remaining matches would light off that striker.  If you look closely at the pictures, on the desk you’ll see some crumbling of the match heads off the striker.

SOL Mini Rescue Flash Signal MirrorIncluded tinder for the matches is four pieces of Spark-Lite’s awesome Tinder-Quik in a small zip top baggie. I include TinderQuik in all my kits.  It is waterproof, rugged and reliable.  I am irked that AMK only includes four pieces of Tinder-Quik in a baggie that will clearly hold five pieces (Note: same number as in the Pocket Survival Pak - Ed.)

The included 1.5 x 2-inch signal mirror aims easily and works well. It’s essentially the same one as used in the Ritter designed Pocket Survival Pak, just half as wide. It works well, however, range will be somewhat limited by the small size compared to a larger one.

Instead of instructions for use on the back, it says to go to the AMK web site for instructions. Given how few people know how to use a signal mirror and given that many will just toss the kit in their pack or wherever without first going through the kit, I can only imagine some poor desperate soul in the wilderness reading that instruction on the back of the mirror. Even worse, we were unable to locate any such instructions on the AMK Web site. Guess you are just S.O.L....

Broken Slim Rescue Howler WhistleThe Slim Rescue Howler whistle is a huge disappointment.  Before I even thought to test its performance, I put a few pounds of thumb pressure on the lanyard loop.  It immediately broke off. AMK advised that they are working to "improve the lamination between the lanyard and the main body of the whistle." Whoever though two small weld/glue spots was adequate wasn’t thinking very clearly. AMK went on to point to claim that the whistle is still usable without the top. This is true if, one, it hasn’t gotten lost because they separated, and two, you realize that you must hold your finger over the open body of the whistle in order for it to work.

While this whistle uses the same Rescue Howler name as the whistle in the Ritter designed PSP, that one is a Fox40, this is a cheap Asian import. It shows. Another exampel of being caught S.O.L....

The 20mm compass is accurate and bubble free.  It makes a great backup to your primary compass.  Experience with these compasses from Ritter’s PSP kit has proven them a valuable addition to any PSK.

SOL Fishing Kit - No Fish HooksThe S.O.L. fishing kit left me bewildered.  It’s advertised as containing line, hooks, sinkers, snap swivels, safety pins and a needle.  Mine arrived without any fishhooks, two pieces of split shot, and one snap swivel. Maybe they meant me to use the safety pins as hooks?  The monofilament line is simply taped together in a coiled mass that instantly became a ball of knot when I tried to unravel it.  It’s not so much that the fishing kit is actually going to make a difference in survival, but the missing hooks call into question AMK’s quality control and the way the line is stored is simply a bad idea.

The safety pins are great and the needle has a large eye for easy threading, if you can untangle the line so you had something to sew with.

There is no other provision for food gathering and there is also no provision for water storage or purification.

The only survival instructions are on the heatsheets blanket.  AMK said they are adding “an instructional PDF on usage of the S.O.L. components” to their web site, which could be downloaded. As of publication, there was nothing there. Personally, I’d suggest downloading the excellent survival instructions from Ritter’s PSP which can be found at

As a stand alone personal survival kit, the AMK S.O.L. fails to pass muster.  It is readily capable of holding much more than it is issued with, and, with serious attention and addition contents, it could make an acceptable piece of field worthy gear (as shown here). Having said that, with more gear, getting it out of the pouch is even more difficult, so practicality is another story altogether.  By the time you are done, you’d probably be better off getting the excellent Ritter designed PSP from AMK and adding a Heatsheets survival blanket.

When I was a young man, I learned that the initials S. O. L. had a very distinct meaning.  I’ll forego the interpretation as that meaning probably isn’t suitable for print in a family oriented journal or website.   Let me just say that, by relying on the AMK S.O.L. Kit as issued, you may find out what those initials stand for the hard way.

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donation

« Prev. [Previous]
[Next] Next »

Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
First Published: December 30, 2007

  • Webserver courtesy of Pulver Technologies
    Email to:
  • © 2002 Douglas S. Ritter & Equipped To Survive Foundation, Inc.
    All rights reserved.
    Check our Copyright Information page for additional information.
    Read the ETS
    Privacy Policy