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Reviews > Health & Safety > Emergency and Survival Gear > Ultimate Survival Technology BASE Kit > Test Report by Jamie Lawrence

Test Report by Jamie Lawrence

Ultimate Survival Technologies - BASE Kit

Test Series by Jamie Lawrence

Initial Report - 27th November 2009

Field Report - 11th February 2010

Long-Term Report - 13th April 2010

Tester Information

Name:

Jamie Lawrence

Email:

jlawrence286@gmail.com

Age:

27

Location:

Hobart Tasmania, AUSTRALIA

Gender:

Male

Height:

1.70 m (5' 7")

Weight:

70 kg (154 lbs)

 

I was introduced to backpacking/tramping/hiking as a young child in Boy Scouts and through my school physical/adventure education. After leaving school, I mainly did short daywalks until recently when I started to re-walk some of Tasmania's key routes and try others I have yet to attempt. I mainly walk in the winter months, in Tasmania's central highlands area. I prefer light gear, extended walks (3-5 days) in a group of 3 or shorter walks (1-3 days) walking solo. I would generally carry a base weight pack of around 8 kg - 10 kg (17 lbs - 22 lbs).


Initial Report

27th November 2009

Product Information & Specification

Manufacturer:

Ultimate Survival Technologies

Year of Manufacture:

2009

Manufacturer's Website:

http://www.ultimatesurvival.com

MSRP:

Not listed

Listed Weight:

79 g (2.4 oz)

Measured Weight:

110 g (3.88 oz)

Dimensions:

Listed: 12.7 x 10.16 cm (5 x 4 in)

Measured: 13.2 x 11.8 cm (5.2 x 4.65 in)

 

The Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Kit (Basic Adventure Survival Essentials) is a lightweight emergency kit has the bare signalling and fire starting essentials everyone needs when heading outdoors, as described on the product packaging.

The BASE Kit has 4 components. The Sparkie™ fire starter, 2x WetFire™ tinder cubes, the StarFlash® signal mirror and the JetScream™ whistle. The entire kit is contained within a waterproof plastic bag/case that is claimed to be waterproof to 60 m (200 ft). 

The individual components are described as follows:

Sparkie™ Fire Starter: A lightweight emergency fire starter that generates intensely hot sparks and works in any weather.  SparkieTM weighs only 0.8 of an ounce (22 g). The sparks are created by the internal flint.

WetFire™ Tinder (2 cube): Is non-toxic, odourless, and virtually smokeless fire starting tinder. UST Claim you can start a fire even in the driving rain and that WetFire™ tinder burns longer when its wet

StarFlash® Signal Mirror: This signal mirror is made from 2 layers of plastic, can be aimed precisely, floats and can signal for communications up to 100 miles away (160 km).

JetScream™ Whistle: This is a simple non-pea plastic whistle. UST claim you can hear JetScream's™122Db ear-piercing shriek, above most natural or man-made noises. 

IR1

Image Courtesy UST

The Instructions

Also contained within the BASE Kit is a small instructions booklet. Given the nature of this product, I assumed it was pretty self explanatory on how to use the various items. However I was surprised that the instructions contain some handy hints, mainly for the StarFlash® mirror and Sparkie fire starter. These were spotting the reflection with your hand then aiming the reflection to ensure you attract attention as well as the fact that the flint stone in the Sparkie can be rotated to ensure a long life. As the kit is packed inside a waterproof bag, I intend to keep the instructions with the kit all the time for future reference in the field.

Trying out the BASE Kit

There isn't really a lot to the kit so it is pretty easy to try out. As I did not want to waste one of the WetFire tinder cubes just playing around (UTS included an extra pack of 8 WetFire tinder cubes which was nice!) for my first impressions, I have not yet used one to start a fire. The StarFlash® and JetScream are pretty basic and easy to use. Just a blast of air to work the JetScreamor just hold the StarFlash® towards a light source. I was able to reflect the light from a lamp across my lounge. The Sparkie only took a few seconds to figure out. Simply press the button to release the flint then press it into something to create sparks. As the flint was coated with a paint of some form, I had to press the Sparkie down 3 times to get sparks. It is easy to use with one hand as claimed by UST. It certainly produces a bright spark but I am yet to test if this is sufficient to ignite the WetFire tinder or any other type of fuel.

Be warned, the JetScream is loud! I gave it the lightest puff of air in my lounge and the resulting noise made my ears ring (and scared my dog into the hallway!). I do not have a meter to measure sound output but I assume it was well below the 122Db claimed by UST making me think that with a full puff, it will be too loud to use in a confined space. Mind you, it is designed to attract attention! I look forward to giving the JetScream a good blast outdoors to really see how loud it goes.

Summary

I was quite impressed with the BASE Kit as soon as I opened the box. I find it is a simple, lightweight and useful kit that appears to serve its purpose of being able to light a fire (or at lease produce a bright spark at this stage) and signal for help. I look forward to testing this kit out in the field but hope that it wont be in a genuine emergency situation!

This concludes my Initial Report of the Ultimate Survival Technologies BASE Kit. 


Field Report

11th February 2010

Field Locations & Conditions

I continued my field testing of the UST BASE Kit with some backpacking and camping. For far all my testing has been during my summer, I have spent a lot of time at the beach and in coastal locations. I recently spent 2 nights camped at Bridport, at sea level. There was no rain and temps ranged from 35 C (95 F) to lows around 12 C (53 F). I also packed the BASE Kit on an overnight walk into Mt Field National Park. During this walk I was between 1,038 m ( 3,405 ft) and 1,272 m (ft). Again the weather was lovely and sunny with no rain and temps were hot, getting to 38 C (100 F) during the day and only dropping to 18 C (64 F) at night.

Performance in the Field

So far I have been fortunate that I haven't had to test the BASE Kit in a genuine survival/emergency situation. However one situation that caused a near death moment was when some friends and I were meeting up at a coastal location for a spot of camping and fun in the sun. However, when I arrived early I noticed that the gas BBQ was indeed wood fired! This posed a major problem as no one thought to pack any matches. Lucky for me I had the BASE Kit handy. After finding some dry grass and a few bits of bits of wood (there wasn't much small tinder laying about) I was able to use both a WetFire tinder cube and the Sparkle to get a fire going.

 

FR1

FR2

FR3

WetFire tinder in place

A good stroke of the Sparkie

Man make fire!

 

Although the directions in the BASE Kit suggest shaving the WetFire tinder cube to assist lighting, I did not have a knife so I assumed that if I could get the Sparkle to ignite the dry grass then the tinder cube should then ignite by the flames from the glass. I am pleased to report that it took only 2 presses of the Sparkie for the grass to ignite. I have no idea how hot the sparks are, but the grass took off straight away so I assume the sparks were quite hot. Once the grass burnt away (around 20 seconds or so) I noticed that the WetFire tinder cube was alight. I glanced at my watch to get a rough idea of the burn time of the tinder cube. I was surprised that such a small cube was able to burn for so long, around 6 minutes in total. By the time the tinder cube was basically burnt out, I had sufficient heat in the fire to add some larger pieces of wood and at no point did I think the fire would die out. Not sure if being able to light a BBQ is what UST had in mind when they designed the BASE Kit, but it was a handy life saver!

I have also managed to get the JetScream
whistle out for a good blow and attempt to measure the volume. I was on the beach at the time so there was a bit of ambient noise from the ocean but the small decibel meter I had was able to measure a peak volume of around 120db, which was pretty loud! My only annoyance with the JetScream™ is the small rope toggle. It is really just too small to be of any use, and the black colour wouldn't assist in making it visible in low light. I would suggest that as a design improvement that the rope is made of a brighter material (and even the body of the JetScream).


I haven't really had much of an opportunity to test the StarFlash® mirror but I was able to use it on a bright sunny day in Mt Field to throw around a few reflections. My walking partner was about 30 meters away and he was clearly able to spot the reflection. He informed me that it was rather bright! I plan to try to measure the maximum range of the reflection during my long-term testing.

Summary

So far I have found the BASE Kit to be a really handy addition to my standard selection of gear when I head outdoors. I really like the simple lightweight design and the fact that it is all contained in a simple waterproof bag. After my first attempt to light a fire went really well, I am confident that if in a real emergency that I could generate a flame with ease. I am also confident that I could use the JetScreamwhistle to attract attention.

This concludes my Field Report of the UST BASE Kit. Please check back in April for the results of my long-term testing. My thanks to Ultimate Survival Technologies and www.backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test this neat little product.


Long-Term Report

13th April 2010

Field Locations & Conditions

I concluded my testing of the UST BASE Kit on 2 outings. The first of these was a 3 night 50 km (31 mi) summit of Frenchman’s Cap in Western Tasmania. This 1,446 m (4,744 ft) peak is regarded as one of the hardest walks in Tasmania with terrain ranging from boggy mud of open button grass plains to high exposed alpine cliffs. During my trip weather ranged from pouring rain to bright sunshine with temps roughly between 10 C (50 F) at night to a high in the low 20’s C (68-77 F). The second trip was an overnight camp at Fortescue Bay on the Tasman Peninsula. This camp at sea level was part of a training program for an outdoor education program of which I am a leader. Again temps were roughly between 10 C (50 F) at night to a high in the low 20’s C (68-77 F). Unfortunately I have no accurate readings of the weather conditions for both of the above trips, so my estimates are based simply on prior experience and average weather for the areas at the time of year.

LTR1

Frenchman's Cap from Barron Pass

 

Performance in the Field

I have continued to be fortunate in that I have not had to use the BASE Kit in a genuine emergency situation. However I did use all 4 components of the kit during the above 2 outings. As can be seen in the above picture, Frenchman’s Cap features some extremely high cliffs on its south east face. Directly below these cliffs, around 400 m (1,312 ft) below, is Lake Tahune, a beautiful alpine lake which also has a small hut on its shore. During our trip, one of the party stayed behind tracked the progress of our climb from the hut. I thought this would be a good test of the StarFlash® mirror and when we reached the summit, I pulled the mirror out of my pocket and aimed it towards the hut in line with the instructions on the rear of the mirror. A gave the mirror a few flicks for around 15 seconds then returned it to my pocket. To my delight I was informed that the mirror flash was clearly visible from the hut! It was a lovely clear sunny day and I had visibility for many kilometers (miles) from the peak. Based on the distance from the summit to the hut below, I am confident I could signal an overhead aircraft or rescue party from a high peak in a genuine emergency situation.

The other test I undertook during the Frenchman’s Cap walk was of the JetScreamwhistle. During this walk our party of 4 was separated into 2 groups of 2 due to an ankle injury slowing one party member down. This resulted in around a half hour ‘gap’ between our groups. Once the second group (which I was in) reached the start of the long open button grass plain of the Lodden Plain, I gave the JetScreamwhistle 2 quick blasts as we had agreed I would do this to allow the first group an idea of how far behind we were. The Lodden Plain is around 8 km (5 mi) of open plains. The first group was around half way across the plain, so approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) when I used the JetScreamwhistle. Once we had caught up with the first group they reported they could clearly hear the whistle. To my surprise they informed me that they had in fact tried to reply with 2 short blasts of the whistle one of the party members had on their pack (contained within the chest trap buckle). We had not been able to hear this at the time. This confirmed to me that the JetScreamwhistle is highly suitable for attracting attention if required.

During the overnight camping trip to Fortescue Bay, I used a couple of the WetFire™ tinder cubes in conjunction with the Sparkle™ to light a camp fire. As I had experienced during my field testing, this was quite easily done by placing the WetFire™ cubes in with some small sticks or grass and then using the Sparkle™ to light. As a simple test I gathered a small amount of grass and leaves as well as some small sticks and then splashed everything with water to simulate starting a fire in wet conditions. I had not broken up the WetFire™ tinder cubes at all and at first could not get them to ignite with the Sparkle™. I then simply removed a tinder cube, roughly crushed it with a rock and then sprinkled it back into the wet grass. A few more strikes with the Sparkle™ and the crusted tinder cube started to ignite. Within a minute or so the larger uncrushed cube began to burn and with 3-4 minutes all the grass and leaves had dried and a small fire was started.

Final Summary

Throughout my testing of the Base Kit I have found that it is a user friendly and simple solution to being prepared for an emergency situation in the outdoors. As the kit is basically maintenance free and lightweight, I simply leave it in the top pocket of my pack so that it is always available if required. This proved to work as I actually forgot I had the kit with me on the Frenchman’s Cap walk until I went to remove something from my pack on the first night and went ‘ah! I can do some testing!’.  I have no doubt that I will continue with this approach into the future for as long as the kit remains functional, which I anticipate will be a long time with the exception of the WetFire™ tinder cubes and Sparkle™ fire lighter as clearly both these items will either be all used or worn out at some point.

This concludes my test series of the UST BASE Kit. My final thanks to Ultimate Survival Technologies and http://www.backpackgeartest.org/ for the opportunity to test this neat little product.




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