Category Archives: Gear

One Pack to Rule Them All – Part I…

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We don’t have TV…

And I have an hour commute…

And maybe one day my body will fuse with my pack, so I better make sure I like it….

These are all reasons I use to justify my obsession with finding the perfect pack and the insane amount of time I have spent thinking about them. To my knowledge, there is no known cure for Packophilia, unless you own a company that builds them.

I still remember my first. She was a blue, Coleman Peak 1 that I bought used when I was fourteen. She didn’t care that it was my first time or that I was a little pudgy, She was there for me in the good times and the bad.  The gentle, curves of her plastic frame and the summer escapade we shared at Philmont are still etched in my mind.

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She was faithful and true, but we grew apart as technology and my body changed. Though I will never forget her, I had to move on.

My late teens and college years saw a series of short, failed relationships, with a heartbraking theft during a trip to the Smokies. After that, I bounced from one to another, never really connecting.

I rebelled at one point, running around with a Roycraft pack frame, three sticks lashed together, until my boss caught me on the job with her. I even ran around with an “all natural” barkpack that shows back up in my foraging classes.

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When I started carrying a pack for a living, things got real. I was now influenced by my environment and lifestyle. My desires changed and no longer did I seek the robustness or novelty of my earlier years, but I now yearned for something sleeker, lighter, and tougher.  One that could handle the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship, that would border on abuse.

I had a wandering eye and started lusting after some of the lightweight packs the thru hikers carried on the annual hippie migration north. Their packs wouldn’t be able to handle the briars, but I stole the concepts and started pulling out the frame and adding a cut down sleeping pad for emergency use.

Lightweight, tough, with a sleeping pad as part of a “virtual” frame, I though I had a pioneering love story until one day a store owner said…

“Dude… do you not know about Alpine packs?”

All those years spent modifying and tweaking, and right under my nose ice climbers had perfected the concept of a lightweight, tough frameless pack with a bivy pad. Damn… I really thought I had something special.

So I had a custom one built 5 years ago that I carried up until last week, with a brief Andininsta interlude. I will showcase those in another episode, but wanted to start with the Flash 45 because it is on a sale that may end this weekend. It’s not an alpine pack, but the result of the ultralight influence on backpacking.

At 50 liters(~ 3000 cubic inches), only 2 pounds 4 ounces, and $89, it is a smoking hot deal. http://www.rei.com/product/863031/rei-flash-45-pack-special-buy

While the Flash 45 is not the perfect pack for me, it is the perfect deal for someone looking for a lightweight, medium volume pack.

So for a tough, 2 pound, 50 liter pack $89 can’t be beat. In fact, I have been waiting for a year for it to go on sale. Pictured to the right of the pack is the 4 ounces of stuff I have cut off so far.

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I gained that back when I added my bivy pad, but I won’t hit the woods without it.

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I dropped the weight down below 2 again by pulling out the aluminum/delrin frame, but with only one compression strap on each side, it does not have the rigidity to work well frameless, based upon my one day experiment.

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I usually don’t review a piece of gear so soon after buying it, but I believe the sale will end soon and you could get stuck with the $130, lime green version.

With only a week on my back, it has already seen  off trail use, been submerged, hauled 20 pounds of corn along with my load, been rained on, snowed on, sleeted on, through briars, and a couple rhodo thicket. So far, so good, but I will give you my initial impressions.

Pro’s

  • Lightweight for it’s volume. Same weight as my CCW, but 10 more liters
  • Longer torso length than my CCW, which was my major complaint.
  • Comfortable
  • Eighty nine dollars!!

Con’s

  • Only one side compression strap
  • Elastic mesh on sides will probably may not make the cut
  • Water bottle pockets and back pocket are all interconnected
  • Black is a sucky color for the woods. It stands out. Lime green accent too. I will be spray painting it at some point.

I will do a review here in a couple months of how she is standing up under the abuse of Team 20mile.

I know she is not the “one”, and she understands that. We can still enjoy our time together and she will get to see stuff most packs only dream about. When I move on, she will be guaranteed to stay in my life as she has already proved worthy.

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Foothills Army Navy..

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Not everyone needs a rubber ducky pool thermometer in December, but I do..

Well, really it is not for me, it is for Survival 101 students so I can gauge the temperature of the creek for the “man in the creek” drill. Luck would have it that the local pool shop had a good selection and even luckier was that there is an Army-Navy store right beside it.

Tucked off Foothills Mall Drive in Maryville, you can find a nice selection of military clothing and outdoor gear. I was happy to find brown polypro glove liners, which I hunt in all winter. Most outdoor stores just have black or blue, so I was happy to find and buy them.

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I got to talking with the friendly owner, Eva Murphy, and found out that after running a surplus store in Billings, Montana for 20 years. Eva said that they started out as Civil War memorabilia collectors and the store evolved from there. Wanting to escape the frigid winters, They migrated to Tennessee and Foothills Army Navy opened up five months ago.

Being a small business owner myself, I told Eva I would give her a shout out on the blog tonight.

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Like any surplus store, you will be able to find plenty of knives, a mix of new and used equipment, and a variety of tactical and outdoor gear.

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What did I personally like that I saw? Well, gear that I have actually used and carry. They had a good selection of polypro and fleece..

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My favorite firesteel, orange please..

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Mountain House meals for your emergency pack..

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Wool pants..

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And the patrol bag from the military sleep system sold separately (or the whole system)..

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Now what I am going to say something that will probably bring the wrath of every internet survival expert out there crying me to be hung by a paracord noose and flogged with firesteels..

If for some magical reason I was thrust into the vortex of unreality where I could only have one item to survive outside right now, it would be a sleeping bag, not the all mighty knife.

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It took decades for that simple lesson uttered by Mors Kochanski to our class 15 years ago to sink in, but after experimenting, researching, and seeing wilderness emergencies first hand, it has taken root.

Take Dimwiddie’s ordeal for example..http://americasroof.com/wp/archives/2004/12/24/hiker-rescued-after-stranded-4-days-on-at-nearr-inadu-knob-in-smokies/ Laying in his sleeping bag for four days kept him alive, but if he only had a knife, Rangers would have found a corpsicle.

While I teach people to build shelters and fires if they are caught out unexpectedly, I always drive home how many calories it consumes and how hard it would be if their wrist or leg was broken.

What if they threw a lightweight, synthetic sleeping bag in a dry sack and stuffed it down at the bottom of their pack with a bivy or tarp? Coupled with a good puffy jacket, the 40 degree bag will now get them down below freezing, Hopefully they replaced the backpack frame sheet with a cut down sleeping pad to insulate from the ground as well, and now they have a solution that works when injured, conserves calories, and will afford better sleep.

Two and a half pounds of lifesaving insurance for $40. Sure there are lighter, better synthetic bags on the market, but they are 5 times the price. Quilts and woobies are other great options, but if you move much in your sleep, you will wish you had a bag, and once again, more expensive.

I have bought several of these over the years and they are floating in both our vehicles and in our packs. Good gear for a great price.

If you are out and about in the Maryville area, stop by and welcome Eva to the area..

Foothills Army Navy  – 821 Foothills Mall Drive Maryville, TN 37801     (865) 977-0090

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Whistlemania V – Come Sail Away…

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As the final rounds of Whistlemania begin, we start to get into the real tests of performance, those of distance, and this week’s test is for all the water lovers out there.

If you follow Survival Weekly on this blog, you have probably noticed more water rescues and fatalities as the weather warmed up. Common sense dictates that when it gets hot, more of us like to cool of in the water or play on it. Most fatalities are from drowning, so wearing a lifejacket is your best plan and ataching a whistle to said lifejacket may aid in a timely rescue.

Some of you have probably also heard that sounds carries better over water. In addition to the lack of obstacles, cooler air above the surface of the water actually slows the sound wave down causing it to bend, delivering more sound waves to the listener. Here is a quote from an article over on American Boating Association’s page: http://www.americanboating.org/sound.asp

According to Howard Shaw, Ph. D. and Cheryl Jackson Hall, Ph. D., “Experience suggests that sound, like light, travels (more or less) in straight lines. However, to the contrary, sound actually tends to curve downwards over a lake’s surface.”

“Sound traveling along straight lines would disperse quickly into the space above the lake. Instead, sound that “should” rise up and be lost typically curves back down to the lake/ground level. Therefore, it sounds louder than it “should.” This is a well-known and easily demonstrated observation, measurable out there on real lakes.”

Test: Paddle out to known distances and by the process of elimination, determine the maximum ranges for the whistles. Distances were determined by GPS and tests were done at 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, and 1 mile.

The conditions were sunny with a high temp of 87 degrees. Initially, the was a breeze blowing towards the observers, but conditions during the 1/2 mile to 1 mile tests were calm.

Ambient noise from birds, locusts, and waves was present and tests were temporarily stopped to allow for boat traffic to pass. The observers were positioned on the point of a peninsula that extends halfway across Calderwood Lake for their listening post and were asked to comment via radio if the whistle could be heard and if it could be confused with other noises.

Three blasts of each whistle were done at each distance until a couple of kayakers appeared out of nowhere to rescue me. After that, I switched to two blasts and each whistle was given a second chance at the distance it failed.

Below is a picture of the test site with the orange arrow being the observers a mile away. Our lakes in the mountains are narrow and long, so the possibility of sound funneling can be addressed by someone smarter than me in the comment section if you wish.

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The observers: Special thanks goes to Brian and Laura Osgood, Sierra McAllister, and Dr. Ken Miller of the Blount County Rescue Squad. While patrolling Highway 129, a.k.a. The Dragon’s Tail, I managed to catch them in some down time and they were happy to wade into the melee of rescue whistles. These are real world rescuers and this team comprises a good mix of hearing ability. Dr. “Hunk” Miller, age 72, has significant high frequency hearing loss from years of shooting, military service, and women screaming about his good looks.  He was wearing his hearing aids during the test, as he would on an actual incident.

Sierra, age 18, like all young adults may be guilty of cranking up the tunes too loud, but as expected had the keenest ears. Brian and Laura, both in their mid 40’s, represented what we all considered to be the average hearing ability of a responder.

I have had the pleasure to work with the BCRS professionals on several incidents on the Dragon’s Tail and one remote rescue in the park that required the use of their vessel and can’t say enough about their dedication, skill, and professionalism. Every year, BCRS provides nearly 32,000 lifesaving volunteer hours and consistently places in the top three in statewide rescue competitions.

If you or anybody you love rides motorcycles or drives sports cars, these are the men and women that will be saving their lives on the Dragon if the unthinkable occurs. They do all this and more with a volunteer staff and relying solely on donations from the community for their operation!!

BigPig Outdoors would like to thank the Blount County Rescue Squad for their service in the community and their assistance in Whistlemania and has made a $150 donation to their organization as a token of our appreciation and will be teaching a free survival course for their staff this winter.

If you, your family, or organization have found the information from Whistlemania valuable, I urge you to click on the link below and contribute any amount to their cause. Even if you can only donate the price of an average whistle, it all helps.

Make a Donation Button

Donations may also be mailed to:

Blount County Rescue Squad
P.O. Box 218
Alcoa, TN 37701

http://www.bcrs.org/

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The battle for the open water champion begins…

Well almost… Starting at 1/4 mile Doc Miller could not hear a majority of the whistles. To save typing, assume that Doc Miller didn’t hear any of them unless noted and that includes the 1/4 mile tests.

“Heard up to” – Means that all three observers without hearing damage could hear it at that distance, unless noted differently.

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Jetscream Micro – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Failed at 3/4 mile.

ACME 660 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Fox 40 Classic – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

ACME Tornado 635 –  Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that it could be confused with a car horn. Failed at 1 mile.

Hammerhead – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that sound was faint. Failed at 1 mile.

Tin Whistle –  Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented that sound was faint and bird like. Failed at 1 mile.

Fox 40 Mini – Heard up to 3/4 mile by 2 out of 3 observers. Failed at 1 mile.

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Heard up to 1/2 mile. Failed at 3/4 mile.

ACME Tornado 636 –  Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Heard up to 3/4 mile. Observers commented could be confused with bird. Failed at 1 mile.

ACR – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Zipper Pull Whistle – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint. Failed at 3/4 mile.

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Reported as bird-like. Failed at 1 mile.

Sternum Strap Whistle – Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint. Heard by 2 out of 3 at 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  Heard up to 1/2 mile. Reported as faint and bird-like. Failed at 3/4 mile.

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Windstorm – Heard up to a mile. Rated as a 2 out of 3 on loudness at that distance. On several blows, the pea got temporarily stuck and required another blow to free up.

Hammerhead Mighty – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Lifejacket Whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile including Doc Miller!! Heard at 1 mile by all except Doc. Rated at 1 mile as 2 out of 3 for loudness.

FOX 40 Eclipse – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Storm – Heard up to 1 mile. Rated a 3 out of 3 for loudness. Doc Miller heard this one at 1/2 mile, but no further. On several blows, the pea got temporarily stuck and required another blow to free up.

Scotty Lifesaver – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Reported as faint. Failed at 1 mile.

ACME Tornado 2000 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

UST Jetscream – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Whistles for Life – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

Promo whistle – Heard up to 3/4 mile by 2 out 3 observers. Reported that it sounded cow-like. Failed at 1 mile.

FOX 40 Sharx – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile. Doc Miller heard this one at 1/4 mile, but no further.

ACME Cyclone 888 – Heard up to 3/4 mile. Failed at 1 mile.

ACME 649 – Heard up to 3/4 mile, including Doc Miller. Reported as being bird or horn like. Failed at 1 mile.

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BigPig’s Canoe Paddling, Sunburned Head, Whistle Blowing Observations:

  1. I have done some unsanctioned testing during classes in the woods and the difference between open water and the woods is surprising.
  2. At a distance of 1 mile, all observers could hear me yell and stated it was louder than the whistle. My voice would have gone out if done repeatedly, but an occasional yell along with whistling is a good plan.
  3. The average age of rangers in the Smokies and BCRS volunteers is in the mid-30’s. High frequency hearing loss often accompanies aging. Consideration needs to be given to the fact that a lot of our young veterans return with hearing damage and many serve among the ranks in Search and Rescue organizations.
  4. Both low frequency whistles, the Lifejacket and the ACME 649, were heard by Doc Miller up to 3/4 mile away. As stated earlier, even with the use of his hearing aids, he could not hear the other whistles with the exception of the Sharx at 1/4 mile and the Storm up to 1/2 mile.
  5. Our testing day would represent ideal conditions. Wind and waves would surely decrease the observed distances.
  6. I underestimated the Lifejacket whistle. It is old and ultra cheap, but gave a great showing.
  7. Don’t carry the Promo whistle if you plan on getting lost in dairy country…

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Stay tuned as Whistlemania continues when we move back onto the land and head into the woods for the distance test…

Catch up with previous rounds:

“Gamemaker” Gabby prepares the contestants…

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Whistlemania IV – Sound Off…

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Whistlemania is back!! This week we broke out the sound meter to see how loud our whistlers could get.

Let me first say that measuring decibels is just one more variable to consider and a loud rating on the sound meter may, or may not, correlate with the distance heard on the ground. Nevertheless, decibel ratings are often used as a marketing tactic by whistle manufacturers.

For the testing I used an Extech SL10 Personal Sound Meter, my lungs, and the lungs of Jake, a 9 year old, athletic boy weighing 67 pounds.

Forty five years ago, on this very weekend, a six year old boy went missing in the Smokies and was never seen again. This tragic story and lessons from the huge search effort helped to shape the search and rescue techniques and protocols of today. A whistle is one of the best items to equip your kids with in the woods, so it makes sense to see which whistles work well for them.

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The Dennis Martin story: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jun/28/missing-dennis-martin/

Thanks to my pint size partner, we can also extrapolate the effectiveness of each whistle for an adult with a chest injury or condition preventing the full use of the lungs. Last year, I was routed to respond to a hiker that had been pinned under a tree for a day, after a tornado rolled through the park. http://www.local8now.com/news/headlines/Rescuers-work-to-save-53-year-old-hiker-trapped-by-tree-211582431.html. I never made it there, getting redirected to another emergency, but that scenario could easily crush ribs or restrict your lung capacity. Furthermore, COPD, asthma, and a host of other lung ailments restrict the breathing ability of millions each day, so value may be found for them as well.

I asked Dr. “Hunk” Miller the ins and outs of lung volumes and this is my lay person understanding. If one were to blow on a whistle, you would use both your Tidal Volume (TV) and your Expiratory Reserve Volume (ERV), which equals out to be 22 ml/kg.

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Jake, weighing in at 30.5 kg, has around 670 ml of potential air to blow his whistle. That would be the equivalent of a 135 pound person with only one lung or with a chest compressed so it cannot fully expand. If you weigh 135 pounds or more, one could assume that a good performing whistle for Jake would function equally as well if you had an injury that restricted your lung volume or a chronic breathing problem.

This is all important if you consider that if you are using your whistle, there is a high chance that your are injured and/or under the effects of adrenaline, potentially affecting your breathing rate and capacity.

Here were the testing parameters:

1. Decibel level measured at the meter. I assumed, and testing supports, that manufacturer’s claims are done at this distance

2. Decibel level at a distance of 4 feet by a 200 pound adult. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses. Resistance seemed to be the determining factor and can been seen in the duration of the whistle blast in seconds. “Hard”, in this context, means that the whistle provides an amount of resistance greater than the other two categories and does not connote difficultly in use.

3. Decibel level at distance of 4 feet by 67 pound boy. Notes on how hard or easy to blow each whistle are in parentheses based upon Jake’s opinion.

I chose 4 feet for tests 2 & 3 because two other field whistle tests were done at this distance and following that standard will allow comparison.

 

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Jetscream Micro –  

  • Meter – 113 dB
  • Adult –  97 dB   (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (easy)

Fox 40 Classic – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 111 dB
  • Adult – 99 dB  (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

ACME 660 –

  • Meter – 126 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (medium) 4 seconds
  • Child – 101 dB (medium)

ACME Tornado 635 –

  • Meter – 124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

Hammerhead – 

  • Meter –  124 dB
  • Adult – 100  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Tin Whistle – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 103  dB (easy) 4 seconds
  • Child – Fail – fingers were too small to cover chamber openings

Fox 40 Mini – Manufacturer claim of 109 dB

  • Meter  – 116 dB
  • Adult  – 96 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 94 dB (easy)

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Manufacturer claim of 110 dB

  • Meter 119  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (easy)  3 seconds
  • Child – 82 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 636 –

  • Meter – 115  dB
  • Adult – 97  dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Manufacturer claim of 100 dB

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (hard) –  5 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (hard)

ACR – 

  • Meter – 124  dB
  • Adult – 104  dB (hard) – 5 seconds
  • Child – 106 dB (hard)

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – 

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 105  dB (medium)  3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Zipper Pull Whistle – 

  • Meter – 105  dB
  • Adult – 90  dB (hard)  5 seconds – lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 87 dB (hard)

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – 

  • Meter – 123  dB
  • Adult – 100  dB – (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 96 dB (hard)

Sternum Strap Whistle – 

  • Meter – 126  dB
  • Adult – 102  dB (medium) 5 seconds
  • Child – 98 dB (hard)

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  

  • Meter – 112  dB
  • Adult – 93  dB (hard) 3 seconds- lip placement must be perfect
  • Child – 94 dB (hard)

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Windstorm – 

  • Meter  – 130  dB
  • Adult – 109  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 105 dB (hard)

Hammerhead Mighty – 

  • Meter – 129  dB
  • Adult – 104dB  (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 99 dB (hard)

Lifejacket Whistle – 

  • Meter – 119  dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 84 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Eclipse – Manufacturer claim of 115 dB

  • Meter – 119 dB
  • Adult – 98 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 97 dB (medium)

Storm – Manufacturer claim of 130 dB

  • Meter – 130  dB
  • Adult – 112  dB (medium) 3 seconds
  • Child – 102 dB (medium)

Scotty Lifesaver –

  •  Meter  – 112 dB
  • Adult –  91 dB (medium) 2 seconds
  • Child – 89 dB (easy)

ACME Tornado 2000 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 98  dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 91 dB (medium)

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 120 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 90 dB (easy)

UST Jetscream – Manufacturer claim of 122 dB

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 93 dB (hard)

Whistles for Life – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 121 dB
  • Adult – 103 dB (too easy) – 1-2 seconds
  • Child – 86 dB (too easy)

Promo whistle –  

  • Meter – 109 dB
  • Adult – 95 dB (easy) – 3 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (easy)

FOX 40 Sharx – Manufacturer claim of 120 dB

  • Meter – 125 dB
  • Adult – 104 dB (too easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 92 dB (medium)

ACME Cyclone 888 – 

  • Meter – 118 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 3 seconds
  • Child – 100 dB (hard)

ACME 649 – 

  • Meter – 115 dB
  • Adult – 97 dB (easy) 2 seconds
  • Child – 95 dB (medium)

BigPig Outdoors Ear Ringing, Spit Flying Observations:

1. Most of Jake’s scores were very close to mine, a few higher, and some a bit lower. This suggests that lung volume to achieve a loud whistle blast is not much of a factor. Jake outperformed me on several whistles and in one of the linked studies, the child routinely got higher scores.

2. I am not a fan of the “Too easy” to blow whistles. The largest difference between Jake and my scores were seen with these and a few of the windier “easy” whistles. A little resistance by design or by a pea, allowed a more efficient use of the expelled breath in my opinion.

3. Some whistles require perfect alignment or placement of lips that could prove challenging under stress or while injured. These whistles were also tough for Jake to manipulate, and would therefore be poor choices for little ones.

4. The decibel scale is logarithmic, so my lay person understanding is that a 10 dB gain doubles the loudness. In perceived loudness, the 5 – 10 decibels can make a big difference. Source: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-levelchange.htm

5. Like I stated earlier, I think decibel ratings are not as important as the distance that a whistle can be heard, which is a factor of loudness, terrain, and frequency.

Stayed tuned as Whistlemania hits the woods and lakes to see how the whistlers perform at distance…

 

Resources: Adiittional whistle tests based on decibel levels

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/05/who-gives-toot-whistle-tests-coming.html

http://sgtmikessurvivaltips.blogspot.com/2008/09/whistle-tests-part-two.html

http://briangreen.net/2011/03/safety-whistles-decibel-testing.html

http://www.refsworld.com/index.php/whistle-decibel-comparison-chart.html#.U5iXFvldX58

If you are new to the blog and wondering why anyone would spend such an inordinate amount of time on researching whistles, start here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

then go here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/15/whistlemania-ii-the-iceman-cometh/

and then here:

https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/28/whistlemania-iii-slippery-when-wet/

 

Whistlemania III – Slippery When Wet…

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 If you are a boater, raft guide, lifeguard, sailor, swift water rescuer, or anyone that works around water, this episode is for you. I guess since 70 percent of the earth is covered by water, then this episode is really for everyone.

So crank up the Bon Jovi as our our gladiators hit the lake to find out which liked to wet their whistles and which ones needed water wings…

Test 1:  I pulled out my life jacket from my old raft guiding days, strapped it on, and went into the drink. The test was simple. Completely submerge and then see how many blasts it took to clear the whistle of water when I popped up.

Test 2: Some manufacturers boast that their whistle floats. I think this is a non issue, since it should be attached to your lifejacket by a lanyard. I tested them anyway.

Test 3: Some manufacturers claim their whistles work underwater.

According to http://www.stormwhistles.com/ “It’s patented design allows the Storm whistle to be heard up to fifty feet underwater, due to its unique sounding chamber forcing out all water when the whistle is blown.” 

I assume this is just boasting about the easy clearance as I am not aware of any practical value of underwater whistle blowing. Anyway, I went under and tried them out.

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How did they do? Scroll on down to find your pick..

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Jetscream Micro – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACME 660 – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked under water

Fox 40 Classic – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Tornado 635 –  2 blasts to clear, floated, did not work underwater

Hammerhead – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Tin Whistle –  2 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Fox 40 Mini – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACME Tornado 636 –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

ACR – 3 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – 3 blasts to clear, floated, did not work underwater

Zipper Pull Whistle – 4 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – 2 blasts to clear, sinker, did not work underwater

Sternum Strap Whistle – 2 blasts to clear, sinker, worked underwater

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  4 blasts to clear, sinker, worked underwater

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Windstorm – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Hammerhead Mighty – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Lifejacket Whistle – 3 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

FOX 40 Eclipse – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Storm – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Scotty Lifesaver – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Tornado 2000 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

FOX 40 Sonic Blast – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

UST Jetscream – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Whistles for Life – 2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

Promo whistle –  2 blasts to clear, floated, worked underwater

FOX 40 Sharx – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME Cyclone 888 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

ACME 649 – 1 blast to clear, floated, worked under water

Test 1 Observations:

  • 1st blasters – Easy. The pealess, like the Fox series, seemed a little easier than versions with a pea
  • 2nd blasters – It wasn’t too hard to clear them. I wouldn’t discount a 2nd blaster
  • 3rd blasters – I found it funny that the “Lifejacket” whistle ended up here
  • 4th blasters – Both are multi-purpose and not likely to be your water rescue whistle

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Test 2 Observations: 

  • Shame on you if your whistle is not tethered or clipped to your jacket as it could be dropped, swept away by the current, or waves.
  • Realistically, the sternum strap, zipper pull, and ferro rod striker are attached to something that may float or may sink

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Test 3 Observations:

  • Both the Storm and the Windstorm did seem to perform best underwater. If you have gills then maybe these are the whistles for you.

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Tune in next week to see how your pick fares..

If you are late to the party and need to catch up, click the following links;

Whistlemania I – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

Whistlemania II – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/15/whistlemania-ii-the-iceman-cometh/

Whistlemania II – The Iceman Cometh…

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What happens when you hold Whistlemania II in sub-freezing conditions? Carnage.. frozen carnage.

Right now it is 59 degrees and raining, so I had to create the sub-freezing arena. First, I gave the Whistlers a good dunking.

You may wonder why I didn’t save up and store a quart of saliva for “real-world” testing. I would be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind, but my wife already has enough stories to attest to my grossness without adding any more.

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I then pulled them out of the water for a quick shake and dumped the water out of the box. The whistles were then placed in my freezer for two days, rooming next to some deer and hogs.

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I recognize that this experiment does not exactly replicate coating a whistle with spittle in freezing temps, but it still holds value in my book. In a ways this may be more extreme due to complete immersion.

Some manufacturers claim that their whistle does not absorb water..

Will the pea in the whistle swell if exposed to water?

Absolutely not! This is a myth perpetuated in the manufacturing industry to try and differentiate various products. We use pore-filled natural cork. The pore filling process closes any natural voids found in cork, giving it a consistent sealed surface. Water coats the cork, but does not penetrate to any signifigant volume. We have tested whistles submerged for over a week and they perform exactly as a dry whistle. The 2 additional pea-less chambers will also operate in any weather or survival condition. http://www.whistlesforlife.com/whistles.html

And another claims their pea to be resistant to freezing..

The Pea whistle has always been flawed – until now.

Users have always found the peas in their whistles to jam, freeze, or deteriorate quickly under regular use. This is because the peas that are in standard whistles today are made out of corks – or similar moisture-absorbent materials. The wooden cork peas in conventional pea whistles absorb wet agents, such as saliva and moisture in the air, which in turn creates mold. Hammerhead peas are constructed out of materials that fight mold and bacteria.

Hammerhead peas are waterproof, specially weighted, and designed to outlast the competition in any weather condition. No more jamming, no more freezing! http://www.bestwhistle.com/#!__pea-technology

Myths, marketing, and mayhem, they may be cold, but they’re ready to rumble..

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Jetscream Micro – Pass

ACME 660 – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Fox 40 Classic – Failed due to ice blockage

ACME Tornado 635 –  Pass

Hammerhead –  Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Tin Whistle –  Failed due to ice blockage. This was the only metal whistle tested, but the concern for metal sticking to your lips in freezing temps might have some validity. Here is a quote about the problem during the “Ice Bowl”  –

Referee Norm Schachter had a metal whistle freeze to his lips. When he tried to rip it free, it took the skin off his lip, leaving a frozen, bloody lip! Referees then had to simply yell out commands instead of blowing the whistle to end plays.

http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/five-worst-weather-nfl-super-bowls-title-games_2012-02-02?page=6

Fox 40 Mini – Pass

AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro –  Pass

ACME Tornado 636 –  Pass

SOL Slim Rescue Howler –  Failed due to ice blockage

ACR – Failed due to ice blockage

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Zipper Pull Whistle – Pass

Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – Pass

Sternum Strap Whistle – Failed due to ice blockage

LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 –  Failed due to ice blockage

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Windstorm – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Hammerhead Mighty – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Lifejacket Whistle – Pass

 FOX 40 Eclipse – Failed due to ice blockage

 Storm – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

 Scotty Lifesaver – Pea froze, but whistle still worked. Failed to blow over 100 decibels.

ACME Tornado 2000 – Pass

 FOX 40 Sonic Blast – Pass

 UST Jetscream – Pass

 Whistles for Life – Pea froze, but whistle still worked

Promo whistle –  Failed due to ice blockage

FOX 40 Sharx – Pass

 ACME Cyclone 888 – Pass

ACME 649 – Pass

BigPig Outdoors Pseudo-scientific Opinionated Conclusions:

1. Peas may freeze, but the whistles still worked. All the “frozen pea” whistles blew over 100 decibels at arm’s length on the meter.

2. Tiny air channels hold water that may freeze and cause blockage. ACR, SOL Slim, and the Promo have the tiniest air channels.

3. Carrying your whistle around your neck and under your coat in cold weather should remedy all problems.

4. I have not had a freeze up in actual conditions, nor have I read about any in an outdoor emergency scenario. If you have a first hand account of a whistle freezing up or can link an article, please share your experience in the comment section.

Tune in next week for Whistlemania III and if you missed the first one, go here: https://bigpigblog.com/2014/05/05/whistlemania-i/

Whistlemania I – Weigh Ins…

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What in the hell is Whistlemania? Well, it is the Battle Royal of 30 of the world’s toughest whistles. Back in 1986 at Wrestlemania II, twenty of the world’s strongest, fake wrestlers and NFL players fought it out in a ring to a scripted battle leaving Andre the Giant as winner.

Unlike professional wrestling, Whistlemania pulls no punches, has no script, and no Pay Per View fee!!

Before you sound off the nerd alert, let me give you the two-fold back story. First I was looking for a good whistle for my future online store and kids classes, and only the best will do.

Second, my good friend was looking for an emergency whistle for his kids, so he said..

“What be-eth the best whistle good sir?”

I replied.. “I do not knoweth Sir Coop, but I will find out in short order”

Spurred by noble goals and “Over-The-Top” syndrome, I tapped into my twelve year old, Wrestlemania-watching forebrain to create a 7 part whistle torture test. That’s right, tune into to future posts to watch the drama, and truth, unfold.

Yeah, maybe whistles aren’t as cool as AR’s, flashlights, and knives, but one of the most rewarding moments in my career was watching a family be reunited after Rambo Ricky and I found the lost grandparents using whistle blasts in dense vegetation. Whistles work when your voice gives out. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and essential. Whistles save lives.

Want to spend a lifetime wallowing in anguish and regret? Don’t spend $5 on a whistle for your kids and you may get to if they wander off in the woods.

Whistles aren’t just for kids though. Try yelling for help repeatedly and you will soon find out that your voice will give out and you will wish you had a whistle. I carry one every time I hit the woods and usually have a backup version on my sternum strap or neck lanyard.

So what is the best whistle? If you said the one you have on you, you are right. Carrying any whistle is better than not, but hopefully this series will sort through the myriad of choices if you are hunting for a new one.

“Whistlemania 1″ will focus on the size, weight, cost, ruggedness, and my general impressions. I only measure length and width on whistles that were slimmer than 1/4” and did not test the expensive titanium whistles because they cost too much for your average woods trekker. There are some other good whistle reviews, and I will link them at the end of the series for inquiring minds.

I figured the worst thing that could happen to a whistle in the woods is get stepped on, so the “ruggedness” test consisted of my boot crushing the whistle with all 200 pounds of pressure on a hard surface. 28 out of 30 survived this test and I will showcase those failures at end of this post.

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Enough talk, time for the show. The contestants are ready for weigh ins, so let’s see the divisions and meet the gladiators..

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When I think of “Lightweights”, I think of whistles that I wouldn’t mind having hang around my neck. These would also be the class for smaller PSK’s, Personal Survival Kits., that you carry in a cargo pocket. Weight wise, they all weighed in under .30 ounces.

Jetscream Micro – Ultimate Survival Technologies. Around $3. Really small. Pealess.

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ACME Thunderer 660 – About $6. Has a pea. Has been on my SAR chest pouch for years.

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Fox 40 Classic –  $6. Pealess. Keels on bottom can be shaved off to give a flatter profile.

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ACME Tornado 635 – $7. Pealess. Non-traditional design.

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Hammerhead – $4. Has a pea. Unique design projects sound forward. Specialized pea claims to prevent freezing.

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Tin Whistle – Free. I was first shown how to make these by Mors Kochanski using aluminum flashing. This one was from a can of Rotel and you can also make it from a coke can. I will blog how to do it at the end of this series. I included this one because I have seen people use it for their primary whistle.

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Fox 40 Mini – $6. Pealess. Smaller than the Classic. I shaved the keels off years ago and I don’t know what the melted goo on it is, maybe pine pitch. At least I hope so.

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AMK or SOL or Fox 40 Micro – Several names and costing about $8 for a 2-pack. Nice slim whistle.

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ACME Tornado 636 – $5. Pealess. Nice size and well built. S.O.L.A.S. approved

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SOL Slim Rescue Howler – $6 for 2. SOL rebrand of the ACR whistle, but tone is a little different. Flat and pealess. No tooth ridge.

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ACR – $5. Pealess. Dual tone. No tooth ridge. Flat. USCG/SOLAS approved

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Next up is the “Multi-purpose” division that boasts whistles as a side benefit or in conjunction with other tools.

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Coghlan’s 5 in 1 Survival Aid – $5. Has a pea. Whistle, compass, mirror, match case, and a ferro rod. I wouldn’t want to count on the ferro rod for a fire, but I did light a cotton ball with it.

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Zipper Pull Whistle – $5. Pealess. Replaces the zipper pull on your jacket.

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Coghlan’s 4 in 1 Whistle – $5. Pealess. Whistle, compass, magnifying glass, and thermometer. The magnifying glass is convex on one side and flat on the other. I am no physics geek, but I think that reduces performance. I did manage to light a fire with a piece of punk wood transferred to a tinder bundle.

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Sternum Strap Whistle – $5. Pealess. Replaces sternum strap buckle on your backpack. May require sewing to switch out.

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LMF Swedish Firesteel Army 2.0 – $19. Pealess. Scraper has a built in whistle. I carry this rod on my knife and the scraper on the neck lanyard. The whistle works, but has a sweet spot.

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The big boys are ready to rumble…

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Windstorm – $5. Smaller version of the famous Storm whistle. Has a pea.

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Hammerhead Mighty – $5. Larger version of Hammerhead. Has a “non-freezing” pea and unique design to project sound forward.

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 Lifejacket Whistle – $3. Belt clip on back. Pealess

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 FOX 40 Eclipse – $9. Updated version of the classic.

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 Storm – $6. Has a pea. Claimed to be the world’s loudest and to work underwater. Largest of the heavyweights. USCG/SOLAS approved

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Scotty Lifesaver – $8. Two peas and an anti-choking collar.

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ACME Tornado 2000 – $6. Pealess. Another claimed to be the world’s most powerful whistle.

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 FOX 40 Sonic Blast – $9. Pealess

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 UST Jetscream – $6. Pealess.

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 Whistles for Life – $5. Has a pea. Official whistle of NASAR. Very wide mouth piece. USCG/SOLAS approved

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Promo whistle –  $5. Get your logo printed on this one. Bass Pro, TOPS Knives, etc. Pealess

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 FOX 40 Sharx – $6. Pealess

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 ACME Cyclone 888 – $7. Pealess

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ACME 649 – $8. Pealess. SOLAS & NATO approved.

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The 2 whistles that failed the crush test were the ACME Tornado 635 and the Tin Whistle, no surprises there. The Tornado still worked after bending it back, but the plastic is obviously stressed and the tone may have changed. The Tin whistle worked after bending it back into shape as well.

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Place your bets ladies and gentlemen and tune in next week for Whistlemania II.

 

Too funny not to post –  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3tvrp_20-man-battle-royal-nfl-vs-wwf_sport