I sit here writing this review after having just celebrated the second anniversary of catching myself in the act of hypocrisy. I have spent years touting the importance of carrying survival gear as a matter of personal responsibility, and I caught myself violating my own rules. Flash back to April, 2012.
With the lonely sound of a train whistle deep in the valley below us, my dog Laila and I are just waking up on the first morning of camp at the Chestnut Mountain Proving Grounds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Laila lets me know in no uncertain terms that she needs to go to the bathroom, NOW! I throw on my pants and boots, attach a lead to Laila and grab my jacket on the way out the camper door. Before I know it, Laila has relieved herself and we’ve meandered away from camp and are nearing the mountain summit. We hear something and Laila goes on full alert. Whatever we heard, fortunately, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and it headed quickly in a direction away from us. I sat down on a rock, reached for a smoke, and suddenly realized what I’d done. Taking stock of our then current situation, my survival gear was limited to a half full mini BIC lighter, six cigarettes, a bandana, a Benchmade/Ritter Mini Griptilian folding knife and a very happy puppy. To top it off, not one soul on this God’s earth knew where we were or where we’d headed. The saddest part of the story? Flash back to April, 2013.
I did almost the same exact thing the very next year with my new dog, Jake.
It took me two years to learn the lesson, but this year, 2014, was quite different. I made sure folks knew where Jake and I might head during our morning jaunt and I had adequate personal gear to better our situation if an emergency should arise while afield. Among that gear were several Wazoo Survival Gear products which had been sent for review, those being a Lumberjack model paracord bracelet on my wrist, a Bite model paracord zipper pull which was attached to my Swiss Army knife and a Wazombie attached to my water bottle bag.
I had originally selected Wazoo products while searching for a means by which to conveniently and unobtrusively carry a useable supply of cordage on an everyday basis, whether at work or afield. The Wazoo products beat their competition because of the unique and innovative features they produce and are able to weave into their paracord accessories. My original purchase from Wazoo included their awesome Base Model bracelets for both myself and my wife, Care.
The Lumberjack Paracord Bracelet-
The Lumberjack bracelet which was sent for review, when broken down to its individual components, consists of approximately 10’ of 550 cord, a whistle, a firesteel, a nameplate that acts as both a reflective surface for signaling and as a firesteel striker, and a wire saw.
If I were to strip the paracord into its individual strands, that gives me 80’ of useable cordage. If the paracord were to be broken down into individual threads, it contains literally hundreds of feet of useable line. Additionally, if necessary, the wire saw can be broken into individual metal strands which can be used to make light snares.
The whistle requires a bit of getting used to. Being so small, it is easily over blown. However, with minimal practice it can reliably produce up to 103 decibels of shrill, ear piercing, attention grabbing noise. 103db doesn’t sound like much on paper, but it is a real voice saver in the field. You can scream at 103db, but you won’t do it for long before your voice gives out. With this whistle, you can hit 103db all day and not even be out of breath.
The firesteel is diminutive, yet can produce sufficient spark to light man made tinder such as TinderQuik or Vaseline impregnated cotton balls. Having this gear does not replace having the skill to use the gear appropriately. Practice is required to successfully achieve fire with these materials.
Wazoo has a great video on their YouTube channel on how to turn the wire saw into a bow saw. I did not try it. I figured if things had digressed to the point of having to use the saw to create a tool or shelter, I would not want to waste the time or calories to make a second tool. Instead, I stripped the keys off my key ring and attached the split rings to the ends of the wire saw. Using that method of deployment, I was able to quickly and easily down some 1.5” diameter pine stumps left by a beaver. That may not sound too impressive, but the pine was set hard with sap and was ready to be cultivated as fatwood. I did have to stop cutting repeatedly to clean off the saw as it was being clogged with pine resin. I did not encounter that problem when I tried some cuts on other hardwoods.
Being of the “two is one and one is none” mindset, the Lumberjack provides me with an adequate backup to my primary fire starting and signaling gear. On most days, it is my first line means of carrying a ready supply of useable cordage. In an emergency, I don’t want to waste time or calories having to make cordage when it’s so easily carried daily in the form of a Wazoo Survival Gear bracelet.
The Bite Zipper Pull –
I’d attached the Bite zipper pull to the split ring on my Swiss Army Knife. It makes it easier to grab the knife from its JRE custom sheath where the knife resides with my primary firesteel. The Bite hardly adds any weight to the mix, yet it provides me with a reliable means of catching fish in an emergency.
The Bite consists of 10’ of fishing line, a split shot weight, a barrel swivel, a split ring, a fish hook, a piece of foil to fashion a lure, and a 27” paracord sheath to bind it all together. The paracord sheath can be used to extend the length the fishing line, can be used as a makeshift bootlace and as any one of a hundred other uses for cordage.
I personally like the fact that the Bite is geared toward catching smaller fish. A bunch of small fish will feed me just as well as a lunker and small fish are by far and away easier to locate and catch. Additionally, if I catch small fish, I now have excellent bait to use for bigger fish. Overall, I think the Bite is a neat way of carrying a micro sized fishing kit in pure minimalist fashion.
The Wazombie –
The Wazombie I received for review I initially considered no more than a cutesy fashion accessory for a Walking Dead fan. On closer examination, I was wrong.
The Wazombie actually contains some useful emergency survival items in the event of a survival situation or zombie apocalypse. Broken down to its individual components, the Wazombie is comprised of trip/fishing line, fire steel, a ID nameplate that acts as both a reflective surface for signaling with the enclosed mirror and as a fire steel striker, a split ring, several strong magnets with a needle which can be used to make a compass, a couple pieces of copper wire, and a length of paracord sheathing. That’s an awful lot to pack into such a piece, but If I’m allowed one criticism, I would like to see Wazoo figure a means of at least adding a fish hook to this mix to get maximum utility from the trip/fishing line.
With the hundreds of paracord colors available from Wazoo, anyone can find a useful piece of kit which doubles as a very fashionable accessory. There are literally a million color combinations possible with their stock of paracord colors. Any of the bracelet models can be further customized towards the end users needs with some of the available upgrades from Wazoo, such as ranger bands which can be used to store their First Aid Tinder packets or ceramic fire striker blade, handcuff key, or signal stickers.
I’ve got to say that the Wazoo bracelets are tough as nails. My Base model has been worn daily for nearly a year. After initial testing the firesteel, I took the precaution of carefully applying a couple thin coats of clear fingernail polish to the firesteel to inhibit corrosion. My Base model has been through the washer and dryer at least once or twice a month since I got it. To this day, it looks nearly new. I am completely satisfied with my Wazoo Survival Gear products. A word to the wise – Wazoo custom makes each bracelet. If you are going to order, please pay strict attention to their sizing instructions to ensure a perfect fit.
Need more info? There’s a ton more available. Go to http://www.wazoosurvivalgear.com . Tell ‘em the Woods Monkey sent you…