Sunday, September 28, 2008

Testing Nikwax Cotton Proof Treatment

Most of us have heard the phrase "cotton kills," when referring to clothing to be used in cold weather.  That's because cotton loses all of its insulation properties when it gets wet.

However, cotton does have some qualities which make it desireable for use in clothing.  It's common, mostly inexpensive, wears well, and the right weaves can be very windproof.  So, if there is a way to make cotton material less vulnerable to getting wet it's worth giving a try.

Earlier this month I bought a replica second pattern Denison Smock from What Price Glory.  The Denison Smock was issued to British paratroopers, commandos, and snipers during and after World War 2.  I'd wanted one since first learning of them in the book With British Snipers to the Reich.

The Denison Smock is made of tightly woven cotton twill fabric.  It should be pretty wind resistant (I haven't been able to test that yet since it's only September) but as it comes from WPG, isn't water resistant.  Wanting to use the smock while out in Fall and Winter weather, I looked around for a water repellency treatment.  After a bit of searching on the Internet I ordered a bottle of Nikwax Cotton Proof from Campmor.

Nikwax's directions instruct you to start with a clean article and then apply it with a brush or through washing in hot water.  You can do this in a clothes washer but I didn't want to have to get any residue out of my washer, so instead, I filled a 5 gallon bucket with hot water, and added the correct amount of Cotton Proof.  I then imersed the smock in the bucket, swishing it around to make sure all the fabric was wet.  I then let it sit for about 15 or 20 minutes, swishing the smock around a few times during the soak.  Afterwards I rinsed the smock until the water ran clear, and let it air dry.

Today was the first time I was able to test the water repellency.  It's misting and 64 degrees F.  I put on the smock and took a one mile walk around my neighborhood.  I was out in the mist for about 25 minutes.  It's a short test, but during my walk the mist just beaded on the outside of the smock.  Underneath I stayed dry except for my sweat (it's a bit warm to be walking around in one of these things).  After I got home I stuck my arm under the water dripping from my roof to simulate raindrops falling on the smock.  While the Cotton Proof kept the mist out, the larger drops went right through, wetting my arm.

Based on this short test, the Nikwax Cotton Proof treatment adds a limited amount of water repellency.  It will keep mist out for awhile but rain is going to get through treated material easily.  For rain, you're going to want actual rain gear made from modern materials.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gustav After Action Report

OVer on Arfcom, "charlesb_la" posted an AAR describing his experience riding out Hurricane Gustav in an apartment in Baton Rouge. It's worth reading.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike Looking Ugly

Brendan Loy at Weathernerd is blogging about Hurricane Ike. In short, while Ike is likely to remain a Category 2 Hurricane, it's likely to have a huge storm surge when it hits Texas. If I was in its path I'd be bugging out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Follow Up on Some Lessons Learned From Paintball

I received the following email from Jim Scott in response to my post back in April, in which I described some lessons I learned while playing paintball with a tactical approach. Jim has graciously given me permission to repost his email here, in order to spread additional lessons.

It was refreshing to read a post about simulated combat that didn't read like a failed Rambo script.

Taking lessons from simunitions fights, as well as real field conditions (Kuwait, Iraq x 2, and Afghanistan) I'd like to add a few points to what you said.

As far as gear goes, all of the gear used by military guys in combat, or areas likely to be attacked is of a flame retardant nature (i.e Nomex) this is due to the large number of individuals that get burned (gas from vehicles, IEDs, is surprisingly common in war zones). If you are wearing a moisture wicking fabric like UnderArmour the material will melt to your skin and cause all sorts of problems.

Additionally you mentioned gloves, some guys like gloves with gauntlets, personally I have a set of Wiley X gloves ( CAG-1) , they have this reinforced polyurethane pre-formed bit over the knuckles that protects them, but at the same time isn't restrictive. Also they are made of nomex, and leather, so they are tough, and still very easy to work in. (Not the best price, but the right item)

Another area you addressed was eye protection. Eye protection tinted during the day, and clear at night, is a must. Flying debris is EVERYWHERE. And Murphy's Law dictates the SECOND you take your goggles off, you're going to end up with dust, bugs, brass, something hitting you in the eye. Also, lets face it, even a small gnat hitting you in the eye feels like you just got speared with a C-130. The Army created a list of ballistic goggles and glasses that are rated for wear (APproved Eye wear List, or APEL) that all services use, and has multiple designs that accept prescription inserts. Note, I said inserts, not lenses. This is actually better, when your lenses get scratched to Hell, and they will, you replace only the cheap lens, and not the expensive insert. I have Uvex, WileyX, and ESS systems.... I like the ESS the best, they come in both a normal, and a narrow fit for smaller faces (like mine). A little anti-fog cream from a SCUBA store, and you are in business as far as fogging goes. (The downside is they will now attract dust like a magnet). Also the prescription insert (without which I would be hard pressed to hit the broad side of a barn) is fitted in a plastic frame that is a lot more comfortable than the other two. ESS ICE system

Now here is something you didn't mention. Knee and elbow pads. They are GREAT. No two ways about it, when you are getting mortared, shot at, or even just have to work on the ol' truck being able to drop to your knees and land on foam padding beats the heck out of getting the sharpest rock in the middle east jabbed into your kneecap. I like the type that have eleastic and slide over your feet. They stay put just fine most of the time, and unlike inserts, or strap-on pads, when you siddenly find youself trying to climb/sleep/take a dump, you can slip them down around your ankles and out of the way, without taking them all of the way off.

And then comes the last item. Hearing protection. You need to hear the bad guy, however explosions and gunfire tend to make it where all you hear is this time, I'm going to drop a mad expensive name...ready? Here it is : Surefire. Yep. The flashlight guys. They make earplugs that fit under helmets, glasses, goggles, whatever you are wearing, and block out hazardous noise (gunfire) while not blocking normal sounds (range commands, your buddy talking, haji-bob sneaking up on you, etc.) Plus as an added bonus you can plug them all the way up, and sleep through WWIII if needed. Also, they are 14 bucks, so you can get a few sets to replace the ones that walk off. (I've never lost mine...I have, however, had a number of sets decide that they wanted to strike out on their own with out me. Maybe go to California, become movies stars... I wish them luck) Earplus.

As far as tactics go, everything you said was spot-on. The only thing I'm not sure if you noticed was moving across open, or poorly covered areas can be ..... well, less than fun. The method we are taught, as dumb as it sounds, is "I'm up, they see me, I'm down." Basically, you have to get up (crouched running, move for no more than 1-2 seconds, then DROP...roll to one side or the other, spring up, repeat. This prevents the bad guy from getting a good, aimed shot at the time he acquires you, you are down and rolling. If you think "I'm up, they see me, I'm down" it keeps you on a good cadence.

On a side note, you were talking about sights. EO Tech holo sights are (pardon my language) F**king Awesome. They are damn near unbreakable, if you manage to break the lens, whatever is still there will work, they are waterproof, NVIS compatible and shock-proof. You're going to pay an arm and a leg for it, however with any luck you will not get that arm or leg shot off at a later point because of it. You don't have to be right in line with the thing to shoot, if you can see through it and put the reticle on the target, you're going to hit the target. Plus the big "pucker factor" friendly view port and bright "place bad guy here" reticle is second to none.

(I'd give you a link to the site, but my wallet cries softly, and my wife threatens to divorce me every time I look at it.)

Finally a note on training. Focus on using good habits (seek cover and concealment, remember the difference between the two, good muzzle discipline, etc.) whenever you are playing, training, or just goofing off.... when you suddenly find yourself in a high stress setting you don't think about what you are doing, you don't actively think about what is going one..hell you don't even really have time to be scared, you just react. and you react like you trained to react, be that good, or bad. So do everything you can to make it good.

That's my two cents,
Happy Hunting,

Thanks Jim!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Powering Your Home During an Outage

Popular Mechanics is running and article here on powering your home with a generator during an outage.

Monday, September 01, 2008

General Honore on Gustav

Lt. General Russell Honore led the military response to Katrina. With Gustav just about to hit Louisiana, he offers these comments:

We need to build a culture of preparedness. We need to assure that every kid who goes to school in America knows how to swim. The number of EMS teams and ambulances is not tracking with the growth in population. We need to teach more of our people first aid.

The federal government ought to be there to back the states up, we need to build a culture of preparedness in each. Why are we sending people there to issue them ice and water? We should be empowering people to act locally. The key to hurricane preparation is family preparation. If families are prepared, we lose fewer lives.