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July 16, 2012 Comments (0) Grab Bag, Reviews

SOL Origin Survival Kit Review

This Woods Monkey had a blast monkeying around with the SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Origin, a new idea for the pocket survival kit brought to us from the good folks at Adventure Medical Kits (AMK).SOL is a brand name for some of AMK’s product line and they have an array of survival oriented products that seem to fly off the shelves at my local outdoor stores This pocket survival kit had been on my wish list for some time. Then I received the opportunity to review the Origin for Woods Monkey, and I must say it’s got me hooked. It miniaturizes five of the traditional essentials with modern materials, and gives the person looking for the one stop product an option that just might save their life.

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AMK’s website lists the Origin’s weight at 6.25 ounces, and its dimensions at 3.875 x 2.75 x 1.5 inches. The case is made of high impact ABS plastic, in a high visibility orange and contrasting grey color scheme. The main compartment contains most of the survival tools. It has three square feet of heavy duty aluminum foil for purifying water by boiling, or cooking food stuffs. A sewing needle, fishing line, four hooks, sinkers, and swivels are included as well as a length of one hundred fifty pound braided cordage, and some mill spec snare wire for your lashing, and snaring needs. The top of the case hides a signal mirror under a flap. The bottom is where the fun begins. In slots molded into the case there rides a button compass, a one handed fire sparker ala Doug Ritter, and a combo knife, flashlight and whistle. The knife blade is a drop point of AUS 8 steel with an inch and a half of cutting blade. There is enough handle to get a grip on, though those with large mitts might wish for another inch of handle. This isn’t a knife you are going to baton with, but light whittling, cleaning of small game, and other light chores are well within it capabilities.

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Keeping in the spirit of the Origin’s intended use, I waited until it was a nasty, raining day to put it through its paces. I grabbed a small five by seven tarp for some shelter, and went to work. First I used the cord to put up a ridge line for the tarp while cutting off smaller pieces to guy out the sides. Now that there was a somewhat dry spot, I went to work trying to build a fire. I braved the rain again, going in search of dry kindling and fuel. I found some matchstick sized pine sticks under a thick scrub pine, and grabbed an armful of kindling and some larger stuff for fuel. I spent fifteen minutes laying out the fire, and used the knife to shave up some of the sticks. I then grabbed the sparker and the fire quick tinder. Now, I can never get a fire going in the first try with someone watching me, but I got lucky and even with the questionable tender, got a decent blaze my first try.

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With the fire burning merrily, I rigged the aluminum foil into a cup using the snare wire to form it up, and heated up some water for a broth. While it isn’t included in the kit, a bouillon cube or flavor packet from a ramen soup pack makes questionable water go down a lot easier in my opinion. I made the mistake of having my fire too hot and almost burned a hole in my foil, but saved it in time. I’d double over the foil in the event I’d try that trick again.

Since this is a survival kit, I decided to test the waterproofness of the case. Now, the site doesn’t claim any sort of waterproofness to the Origin. There isn’t a seal, gasket, or anything on the case. I stuck a sheet of toilet paper inside it, and walked out in the rain. After 5 minutes, I stepped back under the tarp and opened it up. The toilet paper was actually dry, but I wouldn’t want to test it in a dunking situation. So, maybe in a light shower your stuff will stay dry, but keep your tinder in the Ziploc baggie provided, or you might have a problem.

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By this time it was getting dark, and I needed to head back to the house. The LED flashlight is actually pretty bright, and gave me plenty of light to get back to my truck. The switch has a momentary on, as well as a click, so you can save battery life. I don’t know how long it would actually last, so save it unless you really need it. I used it to light up my door so I could unlock it, which was really nice.

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I don’t believe in using signaling devices unless you are in trouble, so other than a quick toot on the whistle and looking through the mirror, I didn’t really use them. On a side note, the mirror is more than ample for picking a cinder out of your eye. The flashlight can serve as a signaling device with its momentary on and off and that’s what I would save it for. Use your resources if you need them, but save them if possible, because you might need them more later on.

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I really like the SOL Origin. It has the basics covered, and would make a great starter kit for someone looking to customize, or a stand alone kit for the minimalist backpacker. The fact that the knife, compass, and sparker are all on the outside is great. You don’t have to open the compartment to get to frequently used item, and you can run a bead of silicon around the lid for waterproofing. It’s bigger than an Altoids tin, so it’s not exactly pocket friendly but a cargo pocket will hold it with ease.

The Origin retails for $40.00 on the SOL website, but with a little bit of searching you can find it for less. Keep an eye out for the SOL Origin; it might make you a fine companion when monkeying around in the wilds.

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