Tag Archives: bushcraft

Fall Foraging & Survival 101 Dates Announced…

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Old Man Winter called me today and said it’s time to get the schedule out..

Survival 101:

http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.html

Fall foraging class will be Saturday, September 24th:

http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/poisonous–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html

 

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GI Bill Covers 100% of Tuition for Some JMB Courses..

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My buddy Tim posted a blog today about the GI Bill and tuition coverage for some of Jack Mountain Bushcraft’s courses. Awesome opportunity to train with one of the best. I sent it on to a buddy in Florida and thought the rest of the vets should know as well.

http://www.jackmtn.com/simplog/gi-bill-covers-100-of-tuition-and-fees/

Class 22/140 – The Plastic Meltin’, Bivy Pad Sleepin’, Pennsylvania Game Wardens..

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It didn’t take a genius to figure out something was up when a couple military vets and a bushcrafter at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Academy asked me what was the highest temp I had recorded in a super shelter.

“100 degrees when I tried to cook my buddy Jake” I replied

“We’re gonna break that” said the foursome that would be sharing a fire with me later that night

“I believe you” is all I replied

And break it they did… Roasting themselves at 140 degrees for un-explainable reasons that only other Type A’s jacked up on testosterone would understand. Maybe they missed the heat of the desert, but for the first time ever, I witnessed the plastic melt from the inferno they created in front of their shelter. And while the 22 degree night should make hypothermia a concern, hyperthermia was on my mind.

This class also had a couple other firsts for me..

It was the first time teaching with renowned tracker Rob Spieden of http://trackingschool.com/. Rob is so good with tracks, he eats them for lunch..

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First time instructing inside for the lecture part…

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And first time having 32 students that would need shelter and bedding material…

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When Rob told me how many cadets and members of the PA tracking team we would have, I thought  “Damn, that is a lot of bedding material”

I knew we could manage the fires by building group shelters and a couple singles for samples, but to build a good bed that insulates you from the ground you need a lot of natural bedding.

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But I didn’t worry too much, because I had a trick up my sleeve… well, really it was in my pack.

Experienced in the workload of making natural beds, years ago I started using cut down foam pads to replace the framesheet in my packs. I later found out that alpine climbers had been doing the same thing for years and they called them “bivy pads”.

Fast forward to my LE Ranger years and you would find me sitting on mine for every poaching detail or surveillance op, something that the game warden cadets will soon understand.

If you are injured, all the natural bedding is wet or absent, or you don’t have time to build a bed, a bivy pad is a great lightweight option to supplement your natural bedding or as a stand alone pad in dire straits. This multi-use pad can also provide flotation in your pack if crossing bodies of water or it can be used for a host of improvised splinting options.

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Bivy pad in use by cadets, supplementing natural bedding..

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So here is a quick tutorial on how to make a bivy pad for your day or patrol pack.

First, measure your pack to find the inside dimensions. The example I will be making is  for a pack 10″ wide and 19″ long.

Buy an army surplus pad. If you are in my area, go see Eva at Foothills Army & Navy https://bigpigblog.com/2014/12/06/foothills-army-navy/ One pad costs $11 and will make two bivy pads.

Measure, cut, and score (partially cut) your pad so it folds flat into three sections.

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Seam showing 2/3 partial cut (score)

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Cut off the extra width..

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At this point, you are good to go. I have used a scored, partially cut pad, for years, but if you want extra security, you can gorilla tape the seams. Make sure to tape the open cut while folded, allowing it to fold and lay flat when opened.

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So that gives me a torso length pad in my patrol pack at all times. Once my pack is empty, I can throw in under my legs or under worst case conditions, all 200 pounds of me can  curl up and fit on it.

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“Wait a minute.. that pad in your pack is different than the one you just made” you say

You are correct. The game wardens could get the military pads for $1 through government channels.  The folded pad you see in my pack is a $24 Gossamer Gear Nightlight  http://gossamergear.com/sleeping/nightlight-sleeping-pad-torso-length.html

Fifteen years ago, my prototype pad was a cut down Ridgerest that folded length wise. It is out in the shed somewhere, but here are a few other options. L to R – BPO pad, Gossamer Gear, pad from CCW pack, Z-rest cut to 6 panels. You will also see the size, square inches, and square inches per ounce.

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Here you can see their folded size, weight, and R-value. (Those are straps on the BPO pad to keep it flat for the picture)

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Folded thicknesses..

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And pad thickness..

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You can see why the GG pad is riding in my pack. Thicker, lighter, and a higher R-value. While the Z-rest folds better and has a marginally higher R-value, the denser foam on the GG has held up better.

I always say, “Once you know how to make a friction fire, you won’t ever go into the woods without a lighter”

Natural beds are the same. When you understand the importance of sleep, the workload of gathering enough bedding, the heat robbing effects of conduction and merge them with the realization that you may be injured or unable to build a sufficient bed, you will be hard pressed to argue against carrying four and a half ounces of lightweight “life insurance”.

Whether is is a commercial product or a homemade version, a bivy pad in your day pack helps fight against conduction and can make an awkward “Big Spoon, Big Spoon” night tolerable.

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Congrats to the soon to be graduates of the 30th class of the Pennsylvania Game Commission!!

May your careers be full of action, your bivy pads serve you well, and I pray you don’t get assigned to the same county as Rosie-Vic!!

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Chaga – Survival Mushroom Powerhouse…

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I got called out the other day..

I haven’t seen much on the blog lately other than Survival Weekly..” said my former field trainer in his subtle, passive aggressive way of telling me I have been sucking as a blogger.

I don’t know if you know this Turdis, but when you have a kid, your life changes..”  I replied in my best smartass tone.

Of course, as a father himself,  he knows that and  was one of the many that uttered that vague statement leading up to the birth of my son. Curtis, or as I affectionately call him “Turdis”, and I have a special relationship. Years ago, when he came onto the hoghunting crew, my partner and I poached his district in a friendly inter-crew rivalry, leaving a wasteland of empty hunts between our districts.

Karma played out years later when I reported to Big South Fork for field training and found out I would be subjected to his authority as my field trainer. He jokingly tormented me, I returned the favor on the wrestling mats, and the cycle continues.

A brother for life  that doesn’t hesitate to shoot me straight, Curtis is right, I have been slacking..

It’s not because I haven’t been getting out in the field, hunting, trapping, foraging, cutting wood, etc., but it’s been due to a bear problem.

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Well, not those bears, this one..

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While no one could ever really tell me how “your life will change”, I have been able to make some observations over the past couple months for first time dads:

  1. Plan on being late everywhere. If you tell you buddy you will be there at 9:00, it will really be 11:00 because of baby related ordeals
  2. You will get pee and poop on you. No way around it.
  3. Members on both sides of your family will lose their mind and forget you are an adult raising a child and not a child raising one
  4. Your years of purposely sucking at washing dishes is null and void now. Domestic duties now fall on you no matter how bad you suck at that stuff.
  5. Even if prompted, you may or may not choose to acknowledge how much your wife did before the baby as you marvel at how much dirt you sweep up every other day.
  6. You will eat like a bachelor again. If you aren’t a good cook, you will wish you were, so you could feed your wife and yourself something better than grilled cheese.
  7.  If you co-sleep, plan on being exiled. Even if you get a king sized bed, if won’t be big enough. Credit to Jake for telling me that, even though I didn’t believe him. He is still exiled with a one year old!!
  8. Stuff that was important or fun to you before, will melt away as playing with your boy and making him smile is more fulfilling
  9.  You will rank it at the top of the list as “the best thing that ever happened in your life”
  10. Your wife’s robe will become her second skin 🙂

And of course, writing blog posts will get pushed aside for other tasks. That is until Curtis calls you out..

All joking aside, we are coming up on the 4 month mark now and winning against some breastfeeding issues, pumping wars, and restless nights. I can now relax a bit and get back on track with some Chaga Power!!

That weird looking growth on the tree is actually a mushroom called Chaga or True Tinder Fungus (Inonotus obliquus) and grows on birch trees. It is coveted by bushcrafters for it’s firestarting prowess and by herbalists for it’s medicinal value.

Over the years I have gathered and used chaga in several ways:

1. It makes a good bug repelling incense and saved me from bug driven insanity on more than one occasion.

2. It is awesome natural tinder for flint and steel fires or great as a coal extender.

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3. It is a medicinal, anti-oxidant powerhouse. Wild claims abound of chaga having higher ORAC values than any thing on earth.

ORAC Results Fruits and Vegetables per 100g / 3.5oz  USDA & Tufts University (2003)

  • Chaga  Mushroom 3,655,700
  • Acai Berries  80,000
  • Goji Berries  40,000
  • Prunes  5,890
  • Pomegranates  3,370
  • Raisins 2,890
  • Blueberries  2,450

If that doesn’t get your attention, it is also claimed to be the highest in superoxide dismutase and loaded with betulinic acid, a known cancer fighter. Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-herpetic, anti-HIV, anti-diabetic, anti-aging… if you read the list of Chaga’s powers, you may wonder why Marvel comics hasn’t made it a superhero yet.

While a lot of the claims come from sellers of chaga products, there is a growing body of research coming out of overseas where it has been used for centuries. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=chaga

What interests me is it’s historical use in Siberia and an obscure study back in 1973 that focused on chaga for psoriasis treatment and gut health.  http://www.chagatrade.ru/images/PSORIASIS_chaga.pdf

Being that I have a strong interest in herbal medicine, a love for foraging, and the willingness to self-experiment, I started drinking 16 ounces of chaga tea everyday last week. I have a small patch of psoriasis on my thigh and I am interested in seeing what happens over the next few months of daily use.

There is much debate about extracting chaga’s potent medicine, but I choose the Siberian way (hot water) and easiest (chunks). The key is not to boil it, but keep it at 150-180 degrees for hours, so I use a crock pot.

Leaving it in chunks allows easy, no strain clean up and refreezing of the chunks for the next batch. These chunks are on their third run.

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This was from an overnight brew. The tea is dark and pleasant tasting. I add a little honey to sweeten it.

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After brewing, I bottle the surplus, freeze my stock, and sip away.

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While chaga may not have a role in a short term, wilderness emergency, it’s potential health benefits make it a long term “survival” prospect for everyday life.

Resources:

Chaga hunt…sleeping on the job.

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Survival 101 dates announced!!…

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It’s fall, so you load up the family and drive to the mountains to enjoy the beautiful colors. Your family decides to hike up a popular trail that afternoon. The hike takes longer than you expected and night starts to creep in.You have no flashlight and the light on your cell phone is not bright enough to walk the slick trail safely.

You call 911 for help, but the spotty cell phone reception drops your call before you can give your location. You try again with no luck. Fear starts to creep in as the kids start to cry.

Your water is low, you ate all your food, and you don’t have anything to keep you warm other than the fleece jackets you are wearing. You try to start a fire, but everything is wet. Temperatures start to dip into the 30’s. Your kids are cold and start to shiver. You hope that rescuers are on the way, but realize that they have no clue of your whereabouts in the 500,000 acre park. You huddle with your family and pray that you make it through the night.

This isn’t fiction, it is reality. http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/2014/10/19/rangers-help-lost-family-off-mt-leconte/17551633/

Wilderness emergencies can happen to anyone of us that choose to venture into the great outdoors. Chances are that you won’t be stranded on some remote island naked with a cute girl, but most likely you will be injured, wet, and/or facing a night out without proper gear. https://bigpigblog.com/category/survival-stories/

Understanding the true nature of wilderness survival scenarios is the first step. Next, you need to learn the skills to handle them and then train them under real world conditions. That is where BigPig Outdoors Survival 101 class excels.

Old Man Winter is here, so Survival 101 class dates are announced. Click here to learn how you can get the “pressure tested” skills, knowledge, and confidence to survive the night and more – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.html

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Survival Weekly – 10/14/14…

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Featured – 

17 days in rainforest – https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25237041/cairns-woman-missing-in-rainforest-for-17-days-could-hear-rescue-helicopter-police/

News – 

Lifeguard drone – http://www.mby.com/news/537438/introducing-pars-the-search-and-rescue-drone-helicopter

Hiking – 

Lost hiker rescued – http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video/woman-found-safe-after-becoming-lost-on-halifax-hiking-trail-1.2044364

Missing hunter rescued – http://www.willitsnews.com/ci_26699240/willits-hunter-spent-two-days-lost-woods

Injured and missing hikers rescued – http://www.wmur.com/news/nh-fish-and-game-responded-to-two-search-and-rescue-missions-friday/29078842

Missing hikers rescued – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11341595

Stranded hikers rescued – http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/search-and-rescue-crews-help-stranded-hikers-in-li/41960/Hg0r9DFoBUegBGa8GBLe2A

Hunter/Gatherer – 

Hunter spends night out – http://www.ifallsjournal.com/news/outdoors/learn-wilderness-survival-basics-before-going-afield/article_ae0513a8-45a7-5bc8-b137-c71fd03fc71f.html

Injured hunter rescued after two days – http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/injured-hunter-found-huddling-warmth-after-two-day-bush-ordeal-6104797 & http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10614079/Lost-wounded-hunter-lucky-to-be-alive

Lost hunter rescued – http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2014/oct/14/search-and-rescue-helps-hunter-during-overnight-mi/

Watersports – 

Acadia National Park (ME)
Fishing Boat Wrecks On Park Shoreline

While en route to a harbor to get pulled from the waters for the season on October 7th, a local charter fishing boat began taking on water offshore of Acadia National Park.

Fishermen in the area assisted the boat’s captain to safety as the 50-foot wooden boat, the RV Tiger Shark, filled with water and submerged to its gunwales. The wind and currents brought the vessel aground against the rocky shoreline south of Acadia’s Thunder Hole.

Park rangers and members of the local fire department responded. The Coast Guard ascertained that the vessel contained 100 gallons of diesel fuel. With the forecast calling for rain, lightning, and four- to seven-foot seas over the next day, the Coast Guard and the Maine State Department of Environmental Protection worked quickly to remove the fuel and other hazardous materials from the vessel.

Two days after the wreck, the 1,300-pound submerged engine was retrieved. Park rangers are in communication with the owner and insurance company over removal of the wreckage and remaining shoreline debris.

Jason Flynn is the incident commander and Bob Bechtold is the safety officer for the operation.

Fishing crew and Coast Guard team up for rescue – http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Coast-Guard-Local-Fishermen-Save-Sinking-Boat-278895561.html

Incoming tide strands five on rock – http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/central-coast/2014/10/11/five-people-rescued-at-coast/17124877/

Two rafters drown on Peruvian river – http://www.timesofisrael.com/rescue-teams-find-body-of-second-israeli-missing-in-peru/

Busy weekend for Texas Coast Guard crew –  http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Coast-Guard-rescue-7-in-Texas-during-2-missions-5819327.php

Vehicles – 

Search continues for missing helicopter –  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10592685/Winds-scupper-search-for-missing-pilot

Injured dirt biker rescued – http://infotel.ca/newsitem/search-and-rescue-called-after-dirt-biker-crash-at-bear-creek-trails/it13710

iPhone app saves crash victim – http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_26724237/san-jose-rescue-under-way-woman-who-drove

Mid air collision kills two – http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/10/14/pilot-killed-mid-air-collision-near-yerington-oregon-fireman/17261857/

Urban – 

Missing elderly man found – http://thenelsondaily.com/news/missing-72-year-old-man-found-unharmed-nelson-search-and-rescue-33818#.VD57E_nIL58

Search underway for missing Alzheimer’s patient –  http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/10/11/rescue-efforts-continue-for-missing-75-old-year-woman-in-julian/

Missing toddlers found – http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/2491952-151/police-search-and-rescue-busy-over-weekend?entryType=0#

Climbing – 

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Injured Climber Rescued From Lower Exum Ridge

A Utah climber required a helicopter rescue after falling on the Lower Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton on Sunday, October 5th. Rangers were able to conduct the late-season rescue despite low staffing levels and challenging weather conditions.

Tomasz Misiewicz, 39, of Murray, Utah, was climbing with a partner below the first pitch of the Lower Exum Ridge when he fell approximately 20 feet and sustained a leg injury. Misiewicz’s first piece of rock protection failed during the fall. He had taken a smaller fall without injury moments earlier on the same piece of rock protection, possibly contributing to the failure.

Misiewicz’s partner was able to lower him to a ledge and contact the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center via 911 shortly after the accident. The center received the cell phone call for help at 11:15 am. Fortunately, three seasonal climbing rangers, all of whom had completed their seasons and were making preparations to return to their winter homes, were available to assist from the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache. Permanent climbing rangers were also able to assist.

High winds and rapidly changing cloud conditions were a concern for the rescuing rangers. They were able to conduct a reconnaissance flight with a Teton Interagency contract helicopter and determined that a short-haul evacuation was possible. Two rangers were taken to the Lower Saddle by helicopter and made their way to the scene of the accident.

The helicopter later returned and evacuated Misiewicz and an attending ranger via short-haul to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache, where he was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson. The helicopter later returned to the Lower Saddle and extracted the remaining ranger and Misiewicz’s partner.

Climbers separated before accident –  http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/10/12/maroon-bells-climbers-separated/17158939/

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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/