Friday, 30 December 2011

Peter Jones Klickfast

The original Peter Jones Klickfast manufacturer of Police radio and equipment holders was of course Peter Jones ILG.  The Klickfast system was originaly designed for mounting airwaves radios to the chest of police vests .  The unique multi position swivel mounting allowed the radios to be easily inserted and locked into place in a number of different positions.  The Klickfast concept was then rapidly adopted for mounting any  number of additional devices, from CS Holders to Torch Holders  and even baton holders .  Police Officers were able to use Klickfast docs mounted on leather belt loops to apply the clickfast system to equipment they wished to have on their belt rather than on their vest (where commonly the only two options were the left or right breast).

The most popular Peter Jones mounts are the Polymer CS gas holster which provides rapid, easy access to ones PAVA spray and the two light holder docs designed to accommodate either the Peli Versabrite or most hand-held pocket torches.  The advantage of these two styles of peter jones Klcikfast holders is they allow a police officer hands free illumination when checking IDs or writing down notes or filling out Fixed Penalty Notices.

There are a couple of imitation products available which are compatible with the Klickfast system, however Peter Jones claim that use of a non branded replica stud or doc in conjunction with their equipment will void its warranty.  Most officially issued kit is genuine Peter Jones Klickfast.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Magnum Stealth Force 8.0 Boots

The Magnum Stealth Force 8.0 boot comes in a few different variations. The "original" Leather and Nylon 8" version, a lower cut 6" version, Water Proof Ion Mask treated, side zip, all leather, composite safety toe and plate and even a womens specific stealth libery mid  variant.

The stealth force all leather composite toe and plate boot is a very popular safety boot.  Fully certified to EN standards for both the composite safety toe protection and slip resistant outsole the Magnum CT CP Stealth force packs a full safety boot into a comfortable light weight unit that is equally suited to industrial usage as it is to tactical situations. The composite toe in this Magnum Stealth force is a grey area for both police and security wearers as causing someone an injury whilst wearing a composite toe can leave you liable for accusations of assault with a weapon. Even police officers who are wearing toe caps (steels) may wind up in trouble if they have not been issued them for public order or special duties.  If you are looking for some size 9 Magnums I would highly recommend these.

The standard Magnum Stealth Force WPI version has been discussed earlier in this blog here, but there are other versions also available with the ion mask technology like the all singing all dancing Stealth Force CT CP SZ an eight inch boot featuring a composite toe, a composite shank to reduce puncture risks and a YKK side Zip.

The Stealth Liberty mid is one of Magnum Boots most popular products as it is the only womens specific police boot on a special narrower last (footbed) with a lower cut ankle to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon insertion point.  This boot also has a slightly lighter composition and a more stylized design to appeal more to the female wearer making it quite distinct from a simple six inch stealth boot which is a lower but version of the mens eight inch boot.

Monday, 21 November 2011

1000 Mile socks

The name concept of 1000 mile socks is pretty simple, if you get a blister in your first 1000 miles of wear and you get your money back!  Pretty confident claim eh, but having spoken candidly with one of their reps, they honestly get very few claims on their claim.

The construction of 1000 mile sock is what makes them so blister resistant (if that is even a real term).  The outer is not unlike many other performance hiking socks with a material blend designed to provide padding, insulation, moisture wicking and heat management but the real difference is the integrated Tactel inner sock.  The Tactel lining sock, available from 1000 mile as a stand alone product, is designed to grip tight to the foot surface and wicks moisture whilst providing a protective layer between the outer and the skin on the foot allowing the outer to rub on the inside of the boot and against the Tactel layer whilst the foot stays friction free.

The range of 1000 mile socks designed for the tactical market sector covers the more basic combat sock (in black or green), the more advanced fusion services sock (in black or desert sand) the Tactel lining sock as discussed earlier and a few other products which offer great performance for police or military users, the 1000 mile compression and support socks designed to aid rehab and recovery from intense training.  It is also worth noting that the fusion services socks are available in specific sizes for both men and women.

I personally have a pair of the fusion services sock in desert and they have become my long distance winter sock of choice, replacing the Magnum MX3 socks as the weather cools.  Now I have not racked up nearly 1000 miles since putting them on but I have given them a thorough run out across the downs for a day in my Lowa boots (which were very comfortable to start with) and I have been more impressed with these than any other socks I have tried.  A Police special colleague is also trailing the black version of the 1000 mile fusion services sock for urban foot patrol and he is also singing their praises in his Magnum boots.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Peli Versabrite Light

You will see a Peli Versabrite on the chest of most police officers in the UK these days, it is an indispensable little gadget that gives bright, clear reliable hands free illumination at the flip of a lid.  Some people might be put off at first by the price of a Peli Versabrite, (RRP £24.99 but you can get it for £17.99 from and there are cheaper alternatives on the market for a more sensible looking £10 price point. HOWEVER the Peli comes with a life time guarantee and it really is a no quibble guarantee, run it over, drown it in the rain, have your dog chew it, or simply let the battery run out, send it back to Peli and they will repair or replace your versabrite for absolutely no charge!

The Peli versabrite itself is a small plastic case with a sprung clip on the back which you can use to attach to a lapel, MOLLE webbing, baseball cap peak etc etc and on the front the "lid" contains two bright LEDs which light up when the lid is flipped up and turn off when closed.  The lid itself can be adjusted to any angle up to 180 Degrees making it a versatile little bit of kit. 

What a lot of police officers do with their peli versabrite is mount it on a Peter Jones Klickfast Doc which allows it to be mounted in any Peter Jones Klick Fast mounting, similar to those on the shoulders of most police vests.  This allows you to not only adjust the angle of the light up and down with the Peli lid itself but also rotate it through 360 deg in the doc.  If you are a police officer this combo is what most people use.

The Peli comes in a variety of colours, the most popular is black for professional use, or Hi-Viz for those who have to wear Hi-Viz for their duties, but you can buy them in red, blue, green, orange purple, etc etc if you want one for camping or similar.

Remember, although a Peli Versabrite is twice the price of the alternatives, if you break it once in its life time it will have paid for itself with the warranty!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Adidas GSG9 Boots

Now Adidas is not normally a brand you would associate with the world of tactical kit and equipment but that Adidas GSG9 Boots are renowned throughout the industry as a piece of tactical footwear.  There are two height options available, 6 and 8 inch and in two colours black and desert sand.  The lower cut 6 inch boot is referred to as the GSG 9.4 and the higher 8 inch boot is the 9.2 (both of these are second generation to the original GSG9 boots).

The boots retain the light weight performance of the original design (and the patented Adidas 3 stripe design) but also pack some innovative new features and technical specifications.   Whilst the boots are not waterproof they have a hydrophobic treatment that makes them highly water resistant whilst retaining maximum breathibility.  The Adidas GSG9 Range Fulfils anti-static Norm (DIN EN 344-1, 4.3.4)and also fulfils Oil and Gasoline resistant Norm (DIN EN ISO 20345, 20346, 20347).

Another neat feature is the fast roping system on the foot arch, similar to that on the Magnum Spider 8.1 and 5.1 boots.  This special section is highly abrasion resistant to prevent the boots shredding during roping.  This mid foot sadle also increases arch support to increase comfort and reduce fatigue.

So all in all the Adidas GSG 9 range is a far cry from the sports casual attire you might find in your local sports shop, it is a highly specc'd professional range of performance footwear that has become the first choice response boot of specialist police teams the world over. (Incredibly popular in Germany as Adidas is a German company.......Side note Adidas and Puma were founded by two brothers, Puma being a later spin off and rival after they fell out over business differences.)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Legal debates aside, a multitool (with or without a locking blade) is a useful bit of kit to have on you more often than you think....not just for Combat or on the beat, a good Multi Tool can help with anything from  busting the lid off a jar, screwing the manifold cover back onto your decrepit Golf engine or cutting packing straps off a box.

I know a lot of police officers have debated the legality of carrying a bladed multitool...civilians might shrug it off as "Yeah it makes sense they probably need it for what they have to do!" but there in lies the rub, if it was considered essential equipment they would have been issued one!  Based on this argument a police officer has "legal authority" to carry a baton or CS gas which would be an offensive weapon if carried by a civilian so if they have not been issued their multi tool do they have legal authority to carry one?  The alternative argument is that a police officer has "reasonable excuse", this is the reason why a civilian can have a mutitool on his belt when he is out on a camping trip or on a building site but not when he is in the pub or at a football match.  Reasonable excuse is exactly what it sounds like, you have a reason for carrying your multiplier.  Of course being a bladed item they are restricted to over 18s as well.

Multitools are often referred to generically as a "Letherman" who were teh first brand to pioneer the idea that you could mount a variety of tools on a folding plier rather than on a "swiss army knife" style construction.  However technology has moved on and the old leatherman have been superseded (in my not so humble opinion any way) by Gerber Multitools.  Personally I rate the limited edition Bear Grylls Suspension Plier for its robust construction, excellent selection of devices, and the ergonomic sprung handle grips.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

5.11 Clothing

As you might have noticed I am quite a fan of 5.11 equipment and 5.11 clothing is also a big hit with me.  I have 5 pairs of 511 "Pants" (Trousers to you and me) 3 cotton - Tactical Pants, 2 poly-cotton Taclite Pants .  Personally I prefer the Taclite Pro Pants in rip stop poly-cotton for comfort, fit, appearance and durability, but the one downside is the issue of flame resistance where the cotton pants win out.

The main problem I have with the cotton 5.11 trousers is the fade rate after washing, especially noticeable in the black.  The Taclite pro pants do not fade as fast. Other than that the cotton pants are pretty good, tough, comfortable, and neat enough after a good iron!

Now with other 5.11 clothing items my preference is reversed, I much prefer the cotton shirts to the taclite version.  I find the cotton less abrasive on my torso.

My favorite item of 5.11 clothing is their socks, I have use these on many occasions in a wide range of conditions and always found them to be comfortable, temperature regulating, moisture wicking and pretty good at dealing with odour.

I also have 2 5.11 jackets in my clothes collection, the Sabre Jacket and a 3 in 1 for different conditions.  The 3-in-1 saw me through some of the coldest conditions in the Peruvian Andies down to -10C. The Sabre jacket is a bit more light weight, but still very warm and unfortunately not very breathable.  That said it is very waterproof and I really like the look and design of this jacket, making it one of my most worn items of 5.11 clothes.

Oh and I also have 3 511 caps in my collection, a black uniform cap,  a 9/11 memorial cap and a desert contractor cap all of which get pretty regular outings. The taclite material of the 9/11 memorial cap especially as it is pretty shower proof.....ideal for the tepid British climate!

One major omission from the 5.11 catalogue though is something other manufacturers like Blackhawk Kneepads.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Danner Boots Review

I have seen a recent resurgence in Danner Police Boots after their availability in the UK seemed to dry up for a while but they are now back on the market a bit more esepscially the Danner Police Boots which are now focused around the Danner Kinetic range of 6 inch and 8 inch in Gortex and Non GTX.  ( I think they do varying degrees of insulation in the USA as well but I have not seen that in the UK and it doesn't really seem appropriate for our weather range as well).

Danner boots background is probably more well know for their military boots than their police boots, the Danner TFX Desert boot being on of the issue boots earlier in the "second" Iraq conflict, but the quality of construction demanded by army users makes them a high quality, long lasting police boot.

The Kinetic Danner boots offer a top quality medium weight boot, ideal for general foot patrol, personal I prefer an 8 inch boot, but some prefer the extra flexibility of a 6 inch and are not interested in the extra support, car bound or more static indoors workers for example, but if you are on the run across mixed terrain the extra support will pay dividends.

As with Lowa boots Danners can be re soled extending the life of the boots by 5-10 years of good use.  Not only that but Danner back their footwear with a fantastic quality guarantee, if the boot fails through normal use they will replace it no quibble.

If you are looking for a more military style boot and are prepared to spend a little more then the Danner Acadia Boot, hand made in the USA is an outstanding bit of footwear.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Led Lenser P7 Pocket Torch Review

I have owned a Led Lenser Torch, the Led Lenser P7 to be precise, for about 2 years, at the time Surefire were charging a lot for a torch of disappointing spec in terms of lumens and battery life (you can't argue with the reliability of a SureFire Torch) and I have been really rather pleased from the day I brought it.

That very first day I put the Led Lenser torch to the test, not for its illumination capabilities but for its durability.  Basically I purchased the torch at lunch and slung it onto the backseat of the car.  After work I stopped at the gym and grabbed my kit back off the back seat....on arriving home my brand new led lenser torch was no where to be seen.... Realizing what must have happened, that I dragged the torch off the backseat when I got my kitbag out of the car I headed back to the gym car park and sure enough there was a black blob looking like a squashed hedgehog right where I parked the car.  The lovely looking black gift box that my Led Lenser had come in was a gonner and the batteries inside were also a finished.  The torch however had only a couple of scratches and looked like it might have survived relatively unscathed.  A quick stop at the garage for some overpriced Duracells and bobs your uncle the torch delivered a blinding 200 lumens right into my surprised face leaving me blinded for a while. Since then the torch has performed superbly in all conditions.

Good points about the Led Lenser P7 Torch:
  1. 200 lumens of penetrating white light (some older sites still advertise 170, all the new models are 200)
  2. Rugged aluminum body
  3. Easy to use one handed focus from spot to flood
  4. Two beam strengths for spot or flood
  5. Comes with a belt/molle compatible pouch
  6. Runs on easily available and cheap AAA batteries
Bad Points abut this led lenser Torch:
  1. The battery life is not as long as promised, even on low beam strength you will notice the brightness fades quite quickly as the batteries drain.
  2. The sliding focus head means there are more weather proof alternatives
  3. The tail cap switch is a little fiddly and I don't like the "click" it has
  4. The pouch strap for mounting isnt great, despite being popper and velcro they both become weak after 6 months or so.
  5. The price has crept up since I purchased mine. Fenix have come in with comparable torches and SureFire have introduced some blistering new LED torches since as well. (But they are pretty exy)
All in all the Led Lenser torch range make fantastic police torches....but there are cheaper alternatives for those on a budget with similar spec and the new surefires are the ticked if your life depends on it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Grafters Boots

The Grafters Boots range are relatively new to the market and offer an economically priced alternative to the ever popular Magnum Police Boots.  Now the build quality, materials and life expectancy reflect the purchase price but for lighter users, indoor security guards for example then something like the M668a Grafters Boots are ideal and wont break the bank.

Grafters offer 3 main "Styles" of boot.:

  • The light weight Stealth boot available in 6 or 8 inch ankle height leather and nylon version, as well as an all leather 8 inch water proof breathable boot with "Johntex" Lining. (Johntex is grafters own brand of Goretex imitation membrane).
  • The sturdier Grafters "Police" boot which comes in 8 inch leather and nylon, an all leather 8 inch version and a leather and nylon 6 inch boot.
  • The Police Duty shoe (ideal for parades or formal events)
Now you are probably not going to find many breathable waterproof boots for under £50 yet Grafters offers two which can be found for around £44.99 and £49.99 respectively on many police equipment sites.

Now before you rush out and spend your hard earned pay check on a pair of boots that seem to good to be true, it is worth noting that they probably are just that.  The expected life span of a pair of grafters is less than 12 months for most users, 6 months for those of you who regularly clock up a lot of miles pounding the pavement, or wear them in "adverse weather conditions".  The leather is an action leather in general, which is not EN certified for breathabilty as occupational footwear and the sole has no slip resistance rating.  These downsides are potential turn offs for spec conscious individual purchasers but are a definite stumbling block for any corporation or organisation wishing to issue them to their staff.

To be honest while Grafters boots offer a good selection of boots at the lower end of the market you can pick up a pair of Magnum Panthers (which are EN Certified, have an SRA slip resistant sole and 12 month guarantee) for £39.99 so consider your footwear choice carefully. 

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The SIA - Security Industry Authority

If you want to work in security in the UK you will probably need a license from the SIA, or Security Industry Authority, a non departmental government body, established in 2003 under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 which reports to the home secretary.  Some security roles do not require an SIA licenese but the most common security jobs; Manned guarding, which includes: Cash and Valuables in Transit, Close Protection, Security Guards and Door Supervision as well as Public Space Surveillance (CCTV), Key Holding and the  Immobilisation, restriction and removal of vehicles all require a compulsory SIA licence.  What is less commonly known is that managers and directors of security companies who might not perform the actual security tasks also need a different kind of SIA license.

Licenses curretnyl cost £245 (Oct 2011) and last for 3 years (except for "clampers" which need to be renewed every year).  The current penalty for being unlicensed while performing any of the listed duties above is a maximum of £5000 fin and upto 6 months in prison.  You can also face penalties for not having an SIA licence on display when working door supervision for example. 

The SIA also runs the approved contractor scheme which is a voluntary quality assurance scheme that measures private security suppliers against independently assessed operational and performance standards. Organisations that meet these standards are awarded 'Approved Contractor' status.  The penalties for claiming approval when you are not approved are harsher than that for not having an personal license whilst working security, and can be an unlimited fine. 

Friday, 30 September 2011

Lowa Boots Review - Old Faithful

My Lowa Boots are now my oldest and most worn pair of boots.  After a mid length dalliance with a pair of commercial Berghaus boots I purchased at 16 and trekked around the world in I finally replaced them with a new pair of Lowa Boots  more specifically a pair of the Goretex Mountain Boots , and have never looked back.

These boots were fantastic from the first time I pulled them on, literally cutting the labels off them and doing 10 miles in them fresh out of the box.  From that first hike to my most recent dog walk I have never suffered a blister, pinching, rubbing or any form of discomfort.  I have used and abused these boots in almost every condition and terrain, urban, sub arctic, rocky, swampy, sub tropical and everything in between and can't fault them in any respect.

The Mountain GTX Lowa boots are of course the Goretex version of the Lowa Patrol Boots, being almost identical in every aspect.  Personally I love the goretex and the 8inch ankle height normally means they don't get flooded often and the benefits of the waterpoof membrane out weigh the quicker drying version on 9 occasions out of 10.  (If you want a higher boot from Lowa I would recommend the Combat GTX 10 inch version, but some people find these go a little too high!)

Lowa also offer a selection of other boots in their Task Force range.  The light weight and sporty Zephyr Desert Mid, the Urban Military 2 ever popular with Police officers and the Para Recon.....or Recon Para.... which are "The Slippers" of the Lowa Task Force boot world.

One of the major advantages of buying a pair of Lowa's is the fact that they can be re soled.  A friend an colleague of mine (who recommended them to me originally) had his last him for 8 years in the RMP for the Parachute Regiment and after re soling are still going strong as he works as a security manager in Yemen 5 years later.

So for your next pair of boots for military, or para military use I stake my reputation on Lowa!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Op. Zulu Police Bags

I have recently been introduced to the new range of Op. Zulu police Kit Bags .  Currently they offer two mid size kit bags, the Police Duty Bag and the Police Patrol Bag .  Both are aimed at the police or security officer but catering for slightly different needs.

The Duty Police Bag is the larger of the two and will carry pretty much all your equipment, stabbie, coat, FPN holder, gloves, torch, files and folders, a laptop, sandwiches, flask of tea.....even your gym kit if you want to get in a session before or after work!  The Duty Kit bag is pretty similar to other police kit bags in size and layout but it has a couple of nifty enhancements and a level of construction and finish that elevates it way above competitors at its price point.  The Op. Zulu Duty Police Kit Bag offers padded walls, a padded divider, bottle holder, key hook, organizational pockets, laptop pocket, Duraflex handles, padded shoulder strap and metal hardware throughout.

The Police Patrol Carry Bag is a narrower "soft briefcase" or "messenger bag" is more for organizing and transporting files, paperwork, laptop etc as it can't hold as much equipment.  It has a selection of pockets for carrying other equipment like a C or D cell torch, mobile phone or PDA, keys, Ipad and more.  This police bag can be slung comfortably over the shoulder and its light weight means it can be carried easily for long periods.  Again the Patrol Bag has all metal hardwear, Duraflex handles, padded walls and removable central divider.

Both these police bags offer fantastic value and the kind of quality you would expect from 5.11 or Blackhawk but at a price point you would expect from unbranded equipment.  When you choose your next kit bag choose Op. Zulu - Don't Compromise.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Maritime Security

Maritime security seems to be a burgeoning since the high profile kidnap and ransom cases off the coast of Somalia.  But Somalia is not the only hot spot for modern day piracy, areas of the the South China Sea are still pretty lawless and insurance companies are keen to protect the assets they insure with some extra muscle around the globe.

SSO positions are pretty popular with ex military personnel, especially former Marines and Navy seamen. The job is considered lower risk than CP work in Afghan or Iraq where pay and opportunities have decreased recently and the competency of insurgents in combat (or planting IEDs at any rate) has increased.

Ship Security can in fact be limited to recovering a vessel once the ransom has been paid and the pirates have retired to luxury islands with their ill gotten spoils!......Sometimes it's just easier that way. have picked out a small selection of Maritime Security Equipment on that page and have a full range of security clothing, bags, boots and pretty much everything on the rest of the site so check it out.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

DSEI - Defense and Security Equipment International

The Defense and Security Equipment International Expo is the largest military, security and law enforcement expo on the UK calendar. This Bi - Annual event is held at the London docklands Excel Center and takes up the entire compound for the 3 day event including the river.

The Expo is an excellent opportunity for companies to demonstrate their latest offerings in their respective defense or security industry, from semi conductors and micro components to battleships and artillery pieces as well as training and logistics services from around the globe.  No matter what your position, DSEI is a fascinating event for anyone in the industry, although it can appear a little daunting on the first day (and expect to get lost at least once) you will quickly gain an insight into market place.

As stated the event lasts 3 days, I only managed to attend for one as I had other commitments but there are so many companies exhibiting that it is worth at least 2 days of most peoples time.  As well as searching out some new and interesting suppliers it is also a good change to catch up and network with exiting military or security contracts.  The Defense and Security Equipment International expo offers a mix of hard business and an almost "Golf Course" atmosphere in which contacts can be made, maintained and strengthened as well as thrashing out deals and crunching numbers.

Tickets don't run cheap, but press can gain free access and exhibitors can often source discounted tickets for their guests.

All in all I highly recommend DSEI for any member of the industry related to armed forces, police and law enforcement or security services.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Dating for the police and army

Many of us working the in security or the uniformed services, be it police, army, navy, marines or air force.  The odd hours, the long periods away from home, the demands and sometimes stress, the confidential nature of the work etc. can all take their tole on a relationship and sometimes it is easier to relate to others who are also in a similar industry.  As such a niche dating website for those in uniform was borne and has burgeoned into a flourishing success.

Originally intended to target those actually in the army, or police or unformed security, the site soon attracted a following from uniformed aircrew and other uniformed professions which were included in to the sight demographic targets.  As the site continued to grow it caught the attention of civilians where were simply interested in dating someone from a military job or from the police service.

The site has become so popular to the public in fact that you may have seen their advertising on TV.  Take a look at the ads they are running:

And their Christmass ad:

They also did a series of videos with Kat Hodge, former Miss England and Serving Army Corporal who was "The Face" of check out that video here:

So if you are in the Army, Military, Police or Uniformed security or just interested in someone who is join today.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion, or "The Legion" as it is commonly known is one of the oldest charities providing welfare support for members of the armed services.  Most famous for its Poppy Appeal sold and worn on and around Remembrance Sunday, but The Legion raises money with activities throughout the year.  We even have a "Swear Jar" in our office where we pay a 50p fine into a Poppy shaped collecting tin every time we utter a profanity in the office.  The collection tin is then collected by ex RAF local member of the British Legion Riders branch every couple of weeks.

Like Help for Heroes The Legion has a range or merchandise alongside its Poppies and also accepts donations from any form of fund raising and you can donate your time as a volunteer helping out.

The Legion also maintains the National Memorial Arboretum.  The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK's year-round centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities.

As well as conducting detailed research into the condition of the ex-Service community in Britain and Europe (most recently in Spain) and have a long standing campaign on Gulf War Illnesses. 

If you would like to find out more The Legion's Public Policy Team produce a free e-newsletter. This bi-monthly alert provides an update on welfare rights, health, Government initiatives and the Legion's policy work and is a useful tool for anyone working in the Services welfare sector. Click here to subscribe.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Help for Heroes

Help For Heroes is probably one of the best known charities in the UK, providing help and support for servicemen and women (Despite the strapline "It's about the blokes") wounded in the current conflicts around the world. 

There are many ways that H4H raises money for its cause, the most popular way is through the sale of its tri coloured wrist bands, but there is a whole host of branded merchandise available from Help for Heroes from which the proceeds are used to care for the wounded.  Other popular methods are sponsored activities, like mountain climbs, bungee jumps, long distance runs or swims etc. in which the participants raise sponsorship for the activity and then donate to Help For Heroes.

The wrist bands in red, light and dark blue are seen on the arms of many celebrities, like His Royal Highness Prince William, HRH Prince Harry, David Beckham and many more and cost only £2.  The range of merchandise however covers everything from beach towels, cufflinks, key rings, T Shirts, pens, note pads, slippers, chocolate bars and chocolate drinks...... the list is endless.

You can also make a straight donation using one of the methods outlined on this page

So there are plenty of ways to show your support and the recipients really appreciate it, get involved today!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Police News

Not a kit review per se but a review of another website this time; Police Oracle the UKs top site for Police News and information.  Police Oracle is more than just a collection of police related stories from other websites, they have their own editorial team providing exclusive content and breaking news, as well as a busy forum to discuss all matters police and security and a jobs section too for current vacancies with police forces or private jobs which require ex police officers unique skills.

Police Oracle is also the home of the Police Raise a Million Campaign for the Help For Hero's Charity, tracking forces fund raising efforts across the UK and the official retailer of the "999" emergency services and "Police" pin badges (£3 each, all revenue goes to H4H).

Some of my favorite sections of the site are the Video News Archive and the Quirkies sections which also contains a lot of amusing videos, but probably the easiest way I have found to spend a few hours on the site it the cops capers.  Cops Capers are user submitted stories of real mishaps, mix-ups and capers experienced by officers from all strains of policing, be it regular, special constabulory, MOD, CNC, BTP or PCSOs.

So if you are a serving or ex officer why not head over and take a peek, I am sure there will be something for you to enjoy, and you never know there might be something useful to!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Buckle Up for a Belt Review

I remember many years ago the old plastic stable belts we were issued in cadets, useless for anything more than holding your trousers up at the best of times.  The alternative for exercise was the canvas webbing belt with its metal buckle and the holes through it for attaching the metal hooks of the pouches.  Fiddly as it was it was actually quite effective for what you needed it for.

These days tactical belts have improved a lot, from your special forces operator belts, MOLLE belt platforms and even ballistic protection blast belts to the Police Belts used by foot patrol officers of both police and security officers.

Personally I use a 5.11 Trainer belt for most of my day to day wear.  It's a 1 and 3/4 inch belt which is slightly thinner than the normal 2 inches that most tactical belts are, but it can be worn comfortably with a pair of jeans without looking too "tacleberry" in any situation.  Some people might prefer something like the 5.11 TDU Belt but I like the more substantial feel of the trainer belt with its solid metal buckle and re enforced construction it can support hundreds of kilograms of tension, more than I need to keep my trousers up but makes a suitable rigger belt if you need it for rope access work.  Not overly comfortable but will work in a pinch.  I recommend you check out the full range of 5.11 belts before you look too much further.

Another quick note on belts while we are about it is it the tri lock buckle if you work in policing or security you really need one of these to fasten your belt.  The beauty is it requires two hands (and some practice) to release the buckle and open the belt.  The problem with quick release belt buckles is that your, erm, opponent? Can simply reach out and with a quick squeeze release the mechanism and you find your whole belt kit round your ankles, not only making you look stupid, but putting your CS, Cuffs, Baton etc etc out of your reach at a crucial moment.

Other than those we have Leather Belts from the likes of Peter Jones which are not only a great duty belt but also make good parade or dress uniform two with the neat finish and shiny buckle.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Multi Cam V Multi Terrain

Another mystery to clean up, the confusion between Crye Mulicam (USA) and Multi Terrain Pattern (UK)!  Both patterns look very similar to the untrained eye, because they were both developed to serve the same purpose, to provide a single versatile pattern that was suitable for use in desert, urban and green vegetation all at once!

Once of the major driving forces was the conflict in Afghanistan with its grey-brown mudbrick buildings,  sandy deserts and well irrigated leafy green zone all piled up on top of each other with contacts often sprawling across all 3 environments.  Traditional British Woodland DPM (Disruptive Pattern Marking) and Desert DPM were only effective in one scenario and actually made soldiers stand out like a sore thumb in the opposite conditions.

Both MTP and MultiCam use more colours than their original single use counterparts, covering a broader spectrum of the colour range.

Crye have since licensed their pattern and as well as producing their own range for private indivuduals (as well as on contract to the US Government) they allow brands like 5.11, Blackhawk, Arctryx and more to use their pattern on their products in exchange for a fee.  This has lead to a flood of Multicam products entering onto the market globally.  Multi-Terrain on the other hand is still owned by the British MOD (Like DPM was) but has not been licensed out or allowed to be produced by anyone else.  There are similar patterns like "All Terrain Pattern" or ATP which are privately produced to be as close to MTP as possible without infringing on the patent/copyright.  This means that most private purchasers have not been able to but Multi Terrain and are instead buying either Multi Cam or ATP products instead.  Often with a bit of wear and tear and some dirt rubbed in an ATP or MultiCam pouch on an MTP vest is indistinguishable from the background pattern.

All of the new generation of Camouflage patterns are not only designed with the broad mid spectrum of colours, but they are also meant to slightly reflect the colour of their surroundings so that they appear more green in the woods and more coyote in the desert, and they do appear to work well.  The patterns have been widely accepted and well received by the troops and this technology looks set to dominate the production of military clothing and equipment for the near future at least.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

De Mystery Boots Cross Country Test

Bit later than I had hoped I got these boots back on for the cross country test.  I had a few shin splints from the amount of running I had been clocking up recently so eased off and used my Hi Tech trainers with the insoles to minimize impacts whilst still keeping up some training, but they seem to have eased off so I got the boots back on and the cross country terrain is actually a bit softer under foot that the tarmac.

Any rate, the boots test!  This time the boots were already broken in a bit more and I didn't suffer the same rubbing in on the back of the calf.  The boots were a lot more supportive than the Magnum Stealths, I felt very comfortable running at pace over broken ground in these.  The sole was exactly the right level of rigid/flexible for stability and comfort and excellent traction on mud, gravel dirt and grass.

The boots were sold as "water resistant" they have an oily leather, water proof Cordura and water proof YKK zip.  Running through puddles/shallow water was completely fine didn't notice any water seeping in during the course of the run.  I then tested them in the same was as I had the Stealth WPI boots by paddling around in the shallows of a lake.  At first was incredibly impressed, thinking they might actually be waterproof, but after about 60 seconds water had begun to seep in, not flood in mind, just around the seams and the tongue.  For a non waterproof boot they are about as water resistant as you can get!

In terms of personal preference, I really, really like these boots.  A bit tough at first to break in, but after that a fantastic rugged, supportive, durable boot, water resistant, very breathable and a nice professional appearance.  I might be tempted to add some of the shock mitigating insoles though if I was to be doing a lot of urban pursuits though.

When I get permission from the higher authority I will name this boot publicly and I am sure a lot of police officers will be interested in this development in police footwear. 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Base Layers

With all the running I'm doing at the moment I felt it would be remiss not to have a discussion about base layers .  These offer so many advantages over cotton T shirts (or boxers) that for their price that there is no reason not to invest.

Personally I use a lot of Under Armour especially their tactical range.  Though this is only suitable for training, the polyarmour material they use is highly flammable and will melt into your skin if ignited. Most military forces have banned it from use on operations.  Companies like DriFire and Potomac make new moisture wicking baselayers that are also intrinsically flame resistant, ideal for use under body Armour where IEDs are a threat.

They also do a range of boxers and breifs.

When it comes to socks I like Nike Elite Running Socks with coolmax wicking wool and additional padding on selected areas that are most susceptible to rubbing.

All of the above products not only provide comfort in the form of heat and moisture management but they also reduce bacteria and fungal buildup reducing odor and skin irritation.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sports Supplements

Another quick interim blog before I give De Mystery boots their next test.  I know a lot of guys (and to a lesser extent girls) use supplements in some form or another to help with their training and recovery.  I will give a quick rundown of the major product groups and their effectiveness.

  1. Protein Powders: A quick convenient way to add extra protein to your diet, ideal for post workout as they are fast to consume and quick to digest rushing amino acids to the torn muscle tissue for repair and growth.  A shake after training is ideal for gym or track sessions.
  2. Hydration Supplements: Commercially available as PowerAid , Lucozade Sport or the more popular in America Gatorade in most supermarkets, corners-hops or petrol stations they are a convenient and tasty way to replace fluids and lost muscle glycogen.  These drinks are proven to enhance performance over water alone.  Try buying a tub of powder form on line and mixing it in your own drinks bottle  when you need it to save money in the long run.
  3. Multivitamins: A great addition to even a well balanced diet as the demands of hard training athletes are more than the average person. 
  4. Joint Supplements: Primarily Codliver Oil and Glucosamine & Chondroitin are most commonly used and if you do a lot of road work they are invaluable for your ankles, knees and hips.
  5. Creatine: Mainly for weight trainers, this is one of the few supplements that can live up to its claims (it doesn't work for all people).  The exact mechanism isn't know, but there are two main hypothesis A) That it forms Phospho-Creatine in your muscles providing a phosphate molecule during the crebs cylcle of muscle contraction, and B) It draw additional water into muscle cells making them bigger and more turgid.  Basically increasing size and strength in training individuals.
Thats a quick synopsis of the most popular supplements on the market.  A bit of kit that is often over looked in ones equipment arsenal for gaining the tactical advantage.

If you want any more advice on the minefield that is sports nutrition post a comment and I'll give my best answer.

Next up, back to boots, clothing bags and bits.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The new improved 5.11 Rush series

There has been a bit of confusion recently with the introduction from 5.11 of the new Rush 12 daypack which had some improved spec over the old style 24 and 72 models, and the subsequent porting of the new spec to the 24 and 72 styles.

The two major changes I have been most pleased with are the changes to the yoke seams so that there are now two seams off set from the center instead of the single center join on the original model.  That center seam was a definite weak point in the old construction.  The new bags 24 and 12 bags also come with a tri-gilde buckle for attaching a hip belt or waist strap.  Now whilst it is a bit annoying that they don't come with a strap included, it is a marked step up from the old model that had no option whatsoever.  Currently 5.11 don't seem to offer the a waist belt as an extra in their catalogue but that might be something they introduce in their "fall" (autumn) collection.

The new bags also have improved rain covers on the YKK Zips, the rubber stamp logo has been mounted on the MOLLE on the bag giving full coverage for pouch mounting.  A couple of additional clips have been added to allow the "teir" system to operate making the packs hugely diverse as you can expand or contract capacity quickly and easily by adding what are in effect smaller stand alone bags to the main pack.  The quick release buckles on the straps have also been moved so they sit on top of the padded upper rather than below it meaning the buckles will not dig into you any more.  They don't come with the click suppressors anymore, some people loved them, some people hated them, if you want to add your own they can be made pretty easily with some black elastic....I have.

So it's all pluses really, the bags retain all their fundamental good points that have made made them so popular and the new tweaks really make them perfect in my opinion.

You can see a full video review here or if you want to buy one I suggest you use as they only have the New 5.11 Rush bags in stock unlike a lot of retailers who are still punting out the old style at full price to unsuspecting customers!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Gerber Hinderer CLS

The Gerber Hinderer CLS is a rescue knife.....not a boot! I know things have been pretty footwear oriented of late so I thought I would mix it up with a quick knife review.

Most of you probably already know the Gerber brand and its reputation for quality in its products.  The UK distribution has been taken over by Friskars Too Company  you know the company behind those annoying gardening tools ads but that does not appear to have affected the Gerber brand.

The Hinderer CLS is a folding lock knife which opens one handed due to its smooth hinge and the thumb grip on the side of the blade.  It also features a window punch on the hilt and strap cutter that folds out of the handle.  Unlik its sister product the similarly named "Gerber Hinderer" the CLS version has a pointed tip as well as a fine curved blade at the end and a serrated section towards the handle.  The CLS version also comes in covert black as oppose to rescue red!  The black includes the blade not just the handle to reduce and reflective surfaces making it ideal for military users.  If you are working in the UK the Rescue version is much more suitable.  The handle also has a metal clip on the side which is sold as a "belt clip" but it works just very well on a MOLLE system and to be honest I would have it stored on my chest whist riding in a vehicle in a hostile environment rather than on the belt for easy access.

The blade, and overall construction are excellent quality and ergonomically designed for almost any use.

On the subject of Gerber (is it meant to be pronounced Grrrr-ber or Jer-ber ) they have also recently released a Bear Grylls range of multitools and survival knives which I hope to give a thorough trial later on.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Magnum Stealth WPI - Cross Country Test

Pulling these back on I had forgotten how soft they were.  The upper flexes so easily at the ankle that they feel like you are running in your slippers....but these are def to soft for running on uneven ground, especially with a pack or bergen on.

As I remembered from the tarmac test these boots are light and "cushioney" underfoot, possibly due to the included M-Pact Memory foam insole that comes with every pair.  Something I am going to be adding as a stand alone to any of my boots/trainers from now on!

Now the most interesting bit for me was the water test.  I basically went for a paddle for 5-10 mins or so standing/walking about in water about 5 to 6 inches deep making sure the boots were submerged above the laces and tongue over the the height of my ankle bone......and the results BONE DRY!  No note able water penetration at all.  Very impressive.

When I got home I was so impressed I tested them in the sink! I filled them up with water then tipped them up and poured them out. Normally if you submerge a boot like this the lining and padding soak up water like a sponge and the boots then squelch about for hours and weigh several pounds more until you put them in the airing cupboard overnight!  Not with the Stealth WPI no no, 99% of the water just poured straight out.  Putting my hand in after it still felt a bit damp as there were still water droplets trapped in the folds and creases, but after wiping out the inside with a towel I had no qualms about putting them back on with my socks.  This technology might really be a game changer for waterproofing techniques.

Run test complete  on the Magnum Stealth force and I am still one impressed customer.  If you are a UK police officer, foot patrol security guard or even a doorman make the Magnum Stealth Leather WPI your winder boot of choice....if you can afford them.  Prices seem to range from £120 in the shops to just under £90 online (plus P&P of course).

Sunday, 31 July 2011

De Mystery Boot - Tarmac test

Now in a bit of a change to the previous plan I am testing the mystery boot on tarmac instead of the Magnum Stealth Leather WPI cross country test.  Partly because the weather conditions are similar to those as they were for the Magnum boots and partly because I got impatient looking at the new boots and wanted to give em a go.

First impressions the boots are very light weight, but a lot more rigid than the Magnums.  These boots are 8 inch leather and Cordura and come with a YKK Side Zip and SRC slip resistant soles. Impressive spec so far.  Putting them on they immediately felt a lot more like "combat" boots than the Magnums offering more ankle support and toughened toe protection. Personally I liked the feel, but it felt like these boots would need some breaking in before they were comfortable.  Lacing them up initially the cuff dug into the back of my calf and I had to loosen them off before I even got out the front door.  The left one I loosened a bit too far I think as the heel started to rub a little by the end of the 3 miles.

On the run the sole of these boots felt fantastic, very grippy on tarmac, grass and a short stretch of gravel and felt very "fast" to run in.  On the downside there didn't seem to be a cushioned mid sole and I felt some quad fatigue in the evening that I normally get in my old Berghaus boots but not in my trainers or in the Magnum boots.

As I expected these boots were less flexible and supple than the magnums and the cuff did dig in a little into the calf, but I expect with a bit of breaking in they will be great, especially for the ankle support they offer.  The top of the toe flexed without discomfort and they clearly offer a lot more protection in that area than the Stealth boots.  The mystery boots are NOT a safety toe by the way, just toughened for a bit of extra protection.

As mentioned the weather conditions were similar to the previous test and these boots felt cooler (same socks remember) I guess due to the Cordura panels.  These boots are not sold as water proof but the "oily" leather and Cordura used are specifically water resistant and the Zip is there is some logic to putting a waterproof zip on a boot that is only water resistant, as the zip is going to be the obvious weak point and a cheap zip would really let the whole package down.

Next week I will give both boots a cross country test including a good paddle to see how they hold up.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Running Shoes Mini Post

Just a mini post to give a 10 out of 10 to Hi Tec for their V-Lite Infinity Pro HPI running shoes.  Now I spent more than I would normally on a pair of running shoes but these are fantasic, light, comfortable and the draw string lacing system is a breeze....making that 06:30 run just a little bit easier to face!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Magnum Stealth Force - The tarmac test!

I will be wearing the same socks for all my run tests (I have more than one pair of the same style before you question my personal hygiene!) .  The socks used are Magnum MX3 midweight "Magdry" socks.  Magdry seems to be Magnums own brand of Coolmax and I have been very impressed with them in all conditions.  They are slightly thinner than tradional "hiking" socks or military patrol socks offering the perfect blend of comfort and cool!

Anyway, onto the boot test.  First impressions the magnums are very light, the leather is very soft and flexible and the soles/footbed feel more like trainers than boots.  Great for comfort on tarmac but I wonder if I will want more support when on the cross country test.

On the run the boots performed fantastically straight out of the box, way more comfortable than my old Berghaus boots and the sole was a joy to run on.  There was no rubbing in any area and the tops of the boots creased without causing any discomfort on the tops of my toes.

Downside, they were very hot and though the socks did a good job with any sweat my feet did feel like they were cooking a little bit.  Now to be fair it was a warm(ish) summers day, about 22 deg and sunny.....and the boots are waterproof, but I was hoping for more heat management with Ion Mask over Goretex.  Perhapse as an all leather boot I should have expected that over a Leather and Nylon version.

As a winter urban patrol boot the Magnum Stealth Force all Leather WPI is very impressive.  I will test the water proofing in a more "rural" setting in the next couple of days and see how the leather and ankle support hold up off road.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Magnum Stealth Force WPI - What is Ion Mask?

Based on the ever popular leather and nylon Stealth 8 Inch boot the all leather Water Proof Ion-mask (WPI) version replaces its predecessors nylon panels with leather (no great suprises there) and ads Ion-mask liquid repellent technology.

Ion-mask is a pretty new technology to the market; it is totally different to previous water resistant membrane technologies like Gore-Tex or Sympatex which act like a lining "sock" barrier between the outside and inside of a boot, in that it coats the entire surface are of the boot both inside and out.  Water will literally run off any surface of the boot like water off a ducks back, inside or out!  This is pretty revolutionary stuff.  Membrane technologies, whilst great at providing breath-ability and water proofing up to the height of the boot were hindered by the problem of being incredibly slow to dry once water reached over the top of the boot.  Membranes were therefore a mixed blessing, whilst suitable for most police or security officers patrolling in the rain or through puddles, military personnel or dog handlers etc. would find their boots waterlogged for the rest of the week once they forded a river over 8" deep!  With Ion-mask no part of the boots will absorb water....problem solved!

You can read all about magnums use of Ion-mask in their boots here:

Ion-mask claims not only to repel water, but also, oil, dirt, chemicals, blood and
blood bourne pathogens! And yet remaining light weight and breathable. Grand Claims indeed.

Now there is some wonder as to how well Ion-mask holds up as a waterproofing technology, will your socks get wet standing in shallow water or in heavy rainfall?  I will risk my socks and my comfort to find out in my up coming cross country run test finished off with a quick paddle in the local lake!!! So Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Reviews, Wear Trials, Product Tests and my own personal musings....

Over the years I have amassed a vast array of boots, bags, knives, belts, pouches, torches and pretty much all things tactical.  Some of it I use everyday, some of it gathers dust in a box under the bed all of it will be given a thorough right up over the next few months, maybe even years as I put it through it's paces or it's daily chores and I will share what rocks and what sucks for me and maybe it will help some of you make an informed decision on your next purchase.

First up for review next week is a pair of Magnum Stealth Force All Leather Water Proof Ion Mask boots and their performance on 21min 3mile runs on tarmac, across country and on the treadmill.  (Some among you might notice the distance and time is the same as required for Royal Marine Recruit Selection :) )

I will be giving my initial impressions against an old pair of Berghaus hiking boots I had been using until now, then next week they will be going up a new "mystery" pair of boots for a compare and contrast.