3 Great Knives & Multitools for Women


The Best Survivalist Flashlight: Streamlight Sidewinder Compact II

As I sit here writing this review the Sidewinder Compact II is in my pocket. It has been there for a few weeks now and it wont be going anywhere any time soon. Not until something truly better comes along and that will take a while. It is not just a matter of getting the latest, brightest LED. The Sidewinder Compact II is a game changing flashlight. 
The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a Streamlight. That means the quality testing and standards are beyond average flashlight brands. Streamlight spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in researching and proof testing their products. Most other companies, no matter how neat their designs may be or how bright their lights are, they don’t have those standards of quality. Talking about brightness, lumen intensity depends on the brand as well. A good example of this is that the 55 lumens of the Sidewinder Compact II are brighter than the 80 lumens of the Olight i3s EOS when put side by side. Olight and other brands that don’t go for military and industrial safety contracts can allow themselves to be more “creative” about the lumen intensity of their products. Not Streamlight. The same thing happens with Surefire, who’s 100 lumen lights tend to be brighter than some 200 lumen flashlights floating around.
Then there’s the quality of construction. The Sidewinder Compact II is clearly a tough product. Made of nylon, it is both solid and light. Impact resistance to 3 meters and water resistant to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Intended to be used on the feel, everything about this light looks and feels rugged.
Incredible Versatility
                              Box Contents
The Sidewinder Compact II is without a doubt the most versatile light in the market as of right now. It is intended to be used as a helmet light (comes with the required helmet attachment) , but in can also be used as a headlamp using the head strap (also included). Thanks to its 90 degree angle configuration and rotating sturdy steel clip, it can attach to MOLLE vests, front shirt pockets or neck collars. Of course, it can be carried in your pocket as well. It may not be the most compact pocket EDC light but it well compensates for that by being so useful and adaptable. 
Using the Sidewinder Compct II is simple enough. Clicking the rubber dome button on top (silent, remember its military pedigree) turns the light on. Clicking it again turns it off. Double clicking engages the strobe mode and pushing and holding cycles through the four brightness intensities, Low-Medium 1-Medium 2 and High. High is 55 lumens although as explained its comparable to 80 lumens from other brands such as Olight and Fenix. The runtime for the High mode is 6 hours with one CR123A battery. The low mode, which is the first one, is a functional 5 lumens. Good enough for general use and it runs for over 70 hs. The Sidewinder Comapct II C4 LED has good coloration for a white light. Doesn’t seem to be too cold, no purple or green tint around the edges but a nice neutral white light that feels very natural. At very close range the light has an uneven hotspot with a dark spot in the center, but as you move a few inches away this isn’t noticeable. The light has nice throw and just enough spill for practical purposes thanks to its smooth reflector. 
 Mini headstrap I made for the SCII. It fits nicely under the clip
Pulling up and rotating the knob allows you to rotate between the four different LEDs. The Sidewinder Compact II has a C4 white LED, a red LED, a blue LED and an infrared LED for night vision devices. The strobe and intensity modes work the same way in all LEDs. The red and blue LEDs have a long runtime on low mode, with over 100 hours of runtime. 
  CR123A, AA and AAA they all work in the SCII
But the most fascinating thing about the Sidewinder Comapct two isn’t the choice of LEDs, even if it can be useful, such as using the LED red to keep your night vision or to keep a low profile or the military applications of the IR LED. What make the Sidewinder Compact II a survivalist´s dream is that it works with a single CR123A or AA battery. The flashlight has a spring loaded insert on the inside which adjusts to either type of battery. Unofficially speaking, the Sidewinder Compact II also works with AAA as well. It says nothing about it in the manual but after trying it out and seeing if it would disengage by hitting it lightly it proved to work well enough. If a AAA with a bit of juice left is all you have, you could throw it in, set it on the red LED low mode and you would squeeze some light out of it. Such versatility is simply fantastic.
Its been a few weeks now since I started carrying the Sidewinder Compact II as my every day pocket carry light. Because of its unusual shape, at first I would notice it in my jeans for a few steps, but thanks to its light weight you soon forget its there. In larger 5.11 pants you don’t ever notice it. I see how the Sidewinder Compact II will be with me for a long time.


Pocket EDC update: January 2014


Back to Basics with the Victorinox Tinker


I once read an article in a knife book about a long time knife collector that had an epiphany while hunting. He all of a sudden realized that the custom knife he had in this occasion was worth more than twice the amount of his rifle and scope put together, and it wasn’t exactly a cheap rifle or scope that he was carrying. After that this older gentlemen went back to using a simple victorinox as his daily pocket knife instead of the fancy custom pieces he had grown used to. He soon noticed the pleasure of using a simple, time proven tool that just work.




The Tinker is very similar to the Victorinox Spartan, a staple Swiss Army knife that has large and small blade, can opener/small screwdriver, cap lifter/large screwdriver/wire stripper, corkscrew and reamerwith sewing eye. Inserted on the handles are the plastic toothpick and tweezers. The Spartan is my oldest Victorinox and I have used it for decades. The blade now well worn, tools still snap firmly into place and it is as serviceable as it ever was.



The Tinker is similar to the Spartan except for the corkscrew which is replaced for a large Phillips screwdriver.  No doubt, the screwdriver is more useful, even if it is a bit too large at times. Some people have used the corkscrew to untangle knots, I’ve done so on numerous occasions, but I still rather have the screwdriver instead.









 The Tinker is a great pocket knife. The large Victorinox blade is the most time proven pocket knife design currently available in the market. Its not the biggest or toughest but it just works well. The stainless steel means it wont rust that easily and the mirror polish allows for quick cleaning of the blade. This is especially important for a knife you will end up using cutting fruit or for preparing other kind of foods.  I am very fond of the small, scalpel-like blade. It comes in handy for delicate tasks where a very sharp blade is needed for detailed work. The large blade is used for general tasks while the small one is kept sharp for those specific jobs.



If you want a compact and light weight, no-frills pocket tool, you cant go wrong with a basic Victorinox such as the Tinker. 




Streamlight Year-End Deals



Pretty relevant given the recent problems with power outages  in USA, Canada, UK and South America, Streamlight has some nice discounts worth considering.
This is a no-nonsense EDC/Tactical light that uses a single CR123A battery. Hi (110 Lumens) , low (12 lumens) and strobe mode. Very solid construction which includes a crowned bezel and a pocket clip. This seems pretty standard for modern LED lights these days but there are a few things to notice. First, this is a Streamlight.  There’s a thousand different flashlight brands out there, some of very good quality, but most are just outsourced to China, a name-brand is added and that’s that. Most of the well-known LED flashlights we see are actually made in the same Chinese facility. Streamlight is a different creature. Don’t be surprised if this 110 lumen light is brighter than some “300” lumen LED flashlights floating around that simply don’t have the same tough standards to abide by. While some parts are made in China, Streamlight is a company with unquestionable quality control that has made flashlights for NASA and the US military.  The kind of research and development and quality control Streamlight does costs millions. Other than Surefire, most other companies just don’t have anything along those lines in terms of quality control and testing. So when you find a product like this that costs under USD 40 you’re getting a heck of a lot more light than what meets the eye. There’s a reason why Streamlight Protacs have over a thousand 5 star reviews in Amazon. 


Streamlight quality, these are made specifically as ballistic helmet lamps. It doesn’t get any tougher than that. The Streamlight 14512 Sidewinder Compact II Military Model Angle Head Flashlight also comes with a strap to use as an ordinary headlamp. The flashlight isn’t eye-burning bright, but it has various brightness settings including a high mode of 55 lumens with CR123 batteries. What makes this headlamp a winner besides being tough, is the ability to use both CR123 and AA batteries alike. Unofficially speaking, it also handles AAA if you are a bit careful, though it may not be as reliable as with the first two types of batteries. Besides the white C4 LED, it also has an IR, Blue and Red LED.  The wide variety of light options along with its toughness, plus the ability to just scrounge most common batteries around makes this an ideal survival light.


Pak-Lite: The mini flashlight that lasts for Months


Looking at your article for 12 Christmas gifts (survival related) I think you missed a good one.

I have about 10 of these now spread throughout the house and my car.

Please note – I have no other interest in the product other than I think it’s the most useful  EDC tasklight I’ve ever used.

It’s the Pak-lite.  I suggest you take a look.  The part I like best is that I’ve used one of these as a bedside light for about 3 months now and the low setting works really well for going around the house.
Since the low setting light is good for about 600 hours on one 9volt battery….  I think it’s got the potential to be the most useful light you can have in an emergency.

Their web site is at:    http://9voltlight.com/

I really suggest you go through the whole site – I found it very useful.  You can also find a few videos for these on you-tube.
 Pak-lite LED Flashlight, Basic Economy $10.95

Hi, thanks for your email.
The Pak-lite has been around for a long time and a lot of people do love it. At a time it was a bit of a classic among survivalists and it still is.

The concept is very interesting as a minimalitic light that uses the battery itself as the body. Glowing in the dark makes it easier to find and while not terribly bright it will last for several months, which is its greatest advantage.

I prefer a flashlight that has a body of its own. For a non tactical flashlight, I preffer cheap, easy to find AA and AAA batteries. The user interface is also a bit weird, given the small switch. A twist or clicky interface would be more handy in my opinion. For a few extra bucks I would go for a Fenix E05 in AAA or a E11 in AA. More power, more handy and easier to find batteries. The Eagletac D25C that I listed among the 12 gift ideas and my personal choice for EDC has a moonlight mode that would last several days on a fresh battery.

Having said that there’s something to be said of a light that lasts for months when in Low mode, even if that mode isnt very bright. During extended periods of time without power, it would be priceless.


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