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Reviews > Health & Safety > Emergency and Survival Gear > Survivial Straps - Survival Bracelet > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

Survival Straps Survival Bracelet

Survival Straps bracelets

Initial Report - June 2, 2009
Final Report - August 24, 2009


Tester Information:

Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking five years ago.  In addition to day-hiking and weekend backpacking trips I try to do one longer trip each year.  A couple of years ago I began a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 250 mi (400 km) so far.  My backpacking style always seems to be evolving somewhat, and I like trying different gear and techniques.  I can probably best be described as lightweight and minimalist; cutting as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety

Initial Report - June 2, 2009


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Survival Straps
Year of manufacture:  2009
Model:  Regular Survival Bracelet
Bracelet material:  550 lb test military spec paracord
Color:  Black
Size:  X-Small (fits 6.5 in/16.5 cm wrist)

Manufacturer specified weight:  not given
Measured weights ~
   with plastic buckle: 30 g  (1 oz)
   with stainless steel shackle: 36 g (1.3 oz)

Advertised dimensions:  not listed
Measured dimensions ~
   
1 in width (2.5 cm)
   approx. 1/4 to 1/2 in (0.6 to 1.3 cm) thick
   inside dimensions:  6.75 in (17 cm) circumference
   outside dimensions:  plastic buckle - 9.5 in (24 cm)
                                  stainless shackle - 9.25 in (23.5 cm)

Measured length of cord in disassembled bracelet:  10.75 ft (3.3 m)
(claimed length 1.75 ft/0.5 m per inch of wrist size)

Website: http://www.survivalstraps.com

MSRP:  $18.95 with plastic buckle
$21.95 with stainless steel shackle
Fastened bracelets

Product Description:

The Survival Straps bracelet is emergency paracord masquerading as casual jewelry.  Or is that casual jewelry masquerading as emergency/survival gear?  Either way, it is a unique piece of gear that can be worn daily, making it handy to always have a length of sturdy cord available.

The manufacturer sent me two different bracelets - one with a plastic quick release buckle, and one with a stainless steel shackle.  The bracelets are each woven from a single piece of black paracord.  Each bracelet has a fairly similar weave, with the cord running in a zig-zag fashion from one side to the other and the edges having an interlocking pattern.  They are neatly and tightly woven.   They fasten to the attachment piece (the buckle or shackle) in slightly different manners due to the nature of the fasteners, as can be seen in the photos above.  Below is a detail view of the bracelet with the stainless steel shackle with the fastener open.  The only slight irregularity I noticed in the bracelets can be seen in this photo, which is that one of the fastening loops is slightly longer than the other.

Stainless Steel shackle open 

The bracelets look like I expected they would, based on the manufacturer website information and photos.

Trying them out:

I have had fun over the last few days trying to figure out which bracelet I liked better, since part of our testing involves taking one bracelet apart.  As I've worn them, I've found the bracelet with the quick release buckle is literally a snap to put on and take off.  As with any normal quick release buckle, I merely have to push the pronged end into the slotted buckle to fasten the bracelet on my arm.  Taking it off is nearly as easy - I just squeeze the sides of the buckle with my forefinger and thumb and it pops open.  The shackled bracelet requires a little more effort.  It takes about 12 twists to unfasten the threaded pin.  Then I slide the pin out of the way, line up the two loops of paracord that the pin passes through to keep the bracelet in place, then hold the two edges of the bracelet in place while screwing the pin back in.  While not really difficult, it does require a little more dexterity and effort.

I noticed a very slight difference in the bracelets in that the one with the stainless steel shackle seemed to lay a little better on my arm, being slightly more flexible.  I think this is due to the plastic buckle assembly being slightly longer, and the way that the cord attaches to it creating a firmer surface in the buckle area.  Still both bracelets were very comfortable overall.  I did find it was more comfortable to wear the grip section of the stainless steel shackle toward my elbow rather than toward my hand, where it might poke me when I flexed my wrist during tasks such as typing. 

One slight disadvantage of the bracelet with the plastic buckle is that if I didn't watch what I was doing I might end up pinching my arm in the buckle.  After a couple of times having to unfasten the bracelet to release a pinched bit of skin, I learned to make sure the buckle was well away from my arm BEFORE pushing it closed.  Ouch!  Pinched skin was never a problem with the bracelet with the stainless steel shackle.

I was still having a very difficult time deciding which bracelet I wanted to take apart, and which I wanted to keep together to wear for the rest of the test period.  Did I want comfort (the stainless steel shackle) over convenience (the quick release buckle), or did I want convenience over comfort?  Finally, the gram weenie in me came out, and I decided to weigh the two.  The bracelet with the quick release is a whole 6 g lighter!  Woo-hoo!  Decision made.

After measuring the two bracelets I began to take apart the one with the stainless steel shackle.  It was a very easy process.  I simply found the two short, loose ends of cord which were tucked under the second set of stitches from the looped end of the bracelet (visible in the photo in the above section), and tugged on the first pair of side loops on the edges of the bracelet.  Although the ends are firmly set in place, with a little persistent tug they came loose and I was on my way to a disassembled bracelet.  It was very easy to take the bracelet apart.  While it is a fairly intricate looking weave, it is basically just laced back and forth over two doubled lengths of cord that form the core, with each side being tucked under a loop in the other side to make the edge as the cord is woven back and forth.  I didn't time myself taking it apart, as I did it slowly and carefully and took a few pictures as I went.  I had the idea that I might want to try reassembling the bracelet, so I took my time observing how it was made.  I think that if I needed to take it apart quickly it would only take a minute or two.  Below are a series of photos of the disassembly process.

Taking the bracelet apart

When I was finished taking the bracelet apart, I had 129 in (328 cm) or 10.75 ft (3.3 m) of paracord plus a stainless steel shackle.  This is slightly smaller than the manufacturer claim of 1.75 ft (0.5 m) per inch of wrist size, but only about 7.5 in (19 cm) less.  Personally I wouldn't consider this a significant variance.

I next had a bit of fun (and frustration) trying to put the bracelet back together.  I can tell you that it is MUCH easier to take apart than weave back together.  After several false starts, I was able to weave it back together in a manner fairly similar to the original bracelet.  I think I have the weave right,  but found it difficult to start and I don't believe it is fastened on the shackle exactly as it was.  My effort also ended up more loosely woven and a bit shorter.  This is likely due to one side ending up with about 1.5 in (4 cm) more cord than the other.  I tucked the excess cord under an extra loop.  Maybe someday when I am in camp and bored I will take it apart again and see if I can get it closer to the original.  In the mean while, the bracelet is still wearable - just not as neat as the original.  And, oh yeah, a lot harder to fasten because I ended up with shorter loops that were flat with the bracelet rather than perpendicular like the original ones.  Below is a photo of the reassembled bracelet.

Put back together!

Survival Straps has a nice replacement policy - if the bracelet is disassembled and used in an emergency situation, the left over bits can be returned with $5 for shipping and the story of how it was used and Survival Straps will replace it with a new one.  The owner's manual that shipped with the bracelets also states "If the remnants of your original SurvivalStrap have been destroyed, eaten, disintegrated, or whatever, no problem!  You can just give us your harrowing (true) story of how it was used, and we'll get you a new one."

I think this is a very cool guarantee.  Based on the hour and a half or so I devoted to putting the bracelet back together, and the less professional looking results shown above, $5 and a story for a new one seems like a real bargain!

Preliminary Impressions:

The Survival Straps Survival Bracelet is a well made piece of casual jewelry that keeps a length of emergency cord literally at hand at all times.  The bracelet is neat in appearance.  While it's a little more casual than I would wear with formal clothing, it is well suited for wearing with casual clothing such as jeans and T-shirts or khakis and casual button-up shirts for every day use, and very well suited to go with the nylon convertible pants and wool tops I normally wear while hiking.

So far I've found both styles to be very comfortable to wear, even while sleeping.  The bracelets are easy to take apart, and I feel that I could quickly deploy the cord for use when necessary.  The length seems like it would be sufficient to use in a number of ways.  A few I've thought of - it could be a clothes line to dry my clothing if I fall in a cold, raging stream;  it could be cut apart and used to lash branches to a tree for an emergency shelter; it could be used to tie something to the top of my Jeep (like if I find a kayak or canoe at a yard sale and want to haul it home); it could tie my parents Suburban door shut if the latch fails again.  It could even be used to tie my grandkids up when they are driving me crazy!  (I swear, officer, we were playing cowboys & Indians, er, cops & robbers, - yeah, that's it.)

Final Report - August 24, 2009

Survival Straps on the ATField Locations and Conditions:

In early June I wore the Survival Straps bracelet with the quick release buckle on a car camping trip with an 8 mi/13 km day hike on the AT in Shenandoah National Park.  Weather conditions were dry and relatively warm, with temperatures in the 80 F (27 C) range during the day, cooling down into the 60 F (16 C) range at night.

In late June I wore the bracelet with the stainless steel shackle on an overnight car camping trip in southeastern Ohio.  Temperatures were around 80 F (27 C) during the day, and 65 F (18 C) at night, with a passing thunderstorm in the afternoon, but otherwise dry conditions.

In late July I wore the bracelets during a 4-day Girl Scout encampment, switching back and forth between the two.  Temperatures were in the 60-80 F range (16-27 C).  The weather varied from sunny to light rain to a heavy downpour.  The bracelet with the stainless steel shackle got a good soaking in an afternoon downpour.

In early August I wore the bracelet with the stainless steel shackle on a 4 mi (6.5 km) hike in Prince William Forest in eastern Virginia.  The weather was hot and muggy, with high humidity and temperatures in the mid 80 F (around 30 C) range.

I've also worn the bracelets on approximately 6 short day hikes in western West Virginia.  Each hike was about 3 mi (5 km).  The locations varied from old semi-maintained county roads or gas well roads to wooded trail.  Temperatures ranged from about 60-80 F (16-27 C).  Weather for these hikes was mostly dry, with some days overcast and some bright and sunny.

In addition, I've worn one or the other of the bracelets nearly daily for various activities, work, taking the grandkids to the playground, running errands, and I even swam in them in the local pool a couple of times.

Performance:

The bracelets have been a pleasure to test.  I found I preferred wearing the one with the stainless steel shackle, as it just felt more comfortable.  Sometimes when I wore the one with the quick release buckle I would find that after several hours of wearing it, it would begin to be noticeable and slightly uncomfortable, particularly when I was keyboarding.  Neither bracelet ever bothered me while I was hiking (even when using trekking poles), or driving.  A few times the bracelet with the quick release buckle would feel uncomfortable during the night, and I would wake up and take it off.  I never experienced this with the bracelet with the shackle.  I think this is due to the length and stiffness of the buckle assembly.

Neither bracelet ever caught on anything while I was wearing them, which was somewhat of a surprise, especially for the one with the stainless steel shackle with its protruding fastening pin.  I did find it was much more comfortable to wear it with the pin handle facing away from my hand.

I wore the bracelets a couple of times each while I was bathing.  The bracelets dried relatively quickly (within 30 minutes or so) after swimming or bathing.  One thing I was impressed with was that the bracelets did not collect a lot of dirt or debris.  Neither have they faded or become picked or loose.  Both still look as good as new (except for the less expert re-weaving job on the one with the stainless steel shackle).

Summary:

Thankfully I did not face a situation where I needed the paracord from the Survival Straps bracelet, but I found that wearing the bracelet is a fun and attractive way of always having a few feet of cord handy if the need arises.  The bracelets have been both comfortable and durable, and I plan to continue wearing them for both my outdoor activities and everyday use, with the one with the stainless steel shackle likely to see the most use.

Likes:

Comfortable
Neat looking
Useful

Dislikes:

Quick release buckle a little uncomfortable at times

Thanks to Survival Straps and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Survival Bracelet.

Read more reviews of Survivial Straps gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Health & Safety > Emergency and Survival Gear > Survivial Straps - Survival Bracelet > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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