Call me persistent, call me stubborn, call me crazy–what commenced as a petite evaluation of aviation life rafts almost 20 years ago during which I uncovered serious deficiencies has eventually resulted in a fresh and vastly improved SAE Aerospace Standard for aviation life rafts, AS1356.

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As appealing as the idea of an affordable ($179) brainy see individual locator beacon (PLB) might be, a recently publicized Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that has garnered a fair amount of press would seem to be either an outright scam or riskily naive. While many crowdfunding campaigns’ funding goals and delivery promises need be taken with a grain of salt, read why we believe this one looks to require a dump truck stream.

Surefire has been synonymous with high-performance, high-end flashlights, but you’d never accuse them of being particularly affordable. Surfire has upended expectations with its fresh 1xAAA Titan and Titan Plus flashlights, both in terms of price and EDC spectacle.Get all the details on these fresh EDC flashlights from Surefire.

Updated December Three, 2014: Click for Update BriarTek’s patent claims related to 2-way Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SENDs) have been invalidated in a federal court ruling that granted summary judgement to Delorme. BriarTek’s patent claims threatened to strangle expansion and innovation is this increasingly popular distress beacon market. At best, the patent claims would increase the cost of the devices for consumers, which inevitably discourage purchase and their subsequent use to save lives. You can read the entire sordid story and review the Judge’s ruling here.

Final judgment is in on ACR’s lawsuit against DME and its design consultants alleging that they misappropriated ACR trade secrets and documents and incorporated them into DME’s SATRO PLB. In a Stipulated Judgment and Permanent Injunction issued on January 15, 2013, DME lost big time.Get all the details on this story and find out why you’ll never be able to buy a DME SATRO PLB.

Call me persistent, call me stubborn, call me crazy–what began as a petite evaluation of aviation life rafts almost 20 years ago during which I uncovered serious deficiencies has eventually resulted in a fresh and vastly improved SAE Aerospace Standard for aviation life rafts, AS1356. Check out this story 13 years in the making.

ETS Survival News is an irregularly published compendium of news (usually published on March 32) related to survival, survival gear and search and rescue. Please check out ETS Survival News

Delorme has announced their long-awaited two-way satellite messaging device, the inReach. Unlike Delorme’s very first SEND, which was a SPOT product that utilizes the Globalstar satellite system one-way messaging capability, inReach works on the Iridium system that provides utter two-way communication, with evident benefits. Get a very first look at this fresh and titillating product that may switch wilderness communications forever.

Following from an ETS call to act, RTCM has approved the world’s very first standard for Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SENDs), such as SPOT. This represents the very first major step in ensuring that end users can have confidence that they will get rescued using these fresh distress alerting devices It may also be the beginning of the end of COSPAS-SARSAT unless that moribund organization wakes up.

Spot LLC has issued a product recall on the SPOT Satellite Communicator which is bundled and sold exclusively with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w. The problem is that messages may not be transmitted, including requests for help or emergency assistance, when the SPOT Satellite Communicator is used at lower temperatures. This will be the secodn recall of a SPOT device in just over a year. More information and a link to the Spot recall notice.

Tooled to Get through Foundation has joined the freshly formed Coalition to Save Our GPS, which is opposed to the unusual and unsound waiver by the FCC for LightSquared to use its satellite spectrum for high-powered ground-based broadband transmissions that may interfere with GPS signals before testing has determined that it is safe to do so. Read about the Coalition to Save Our GPS and what you can do to help.

There’s a fresh SHOT Showcase logo this year, but the Sands Expo Center still gargles, albeit somewhat less, but there’s no shortage of cool fresh gear. This year we are attempting something fresh. ETS reporters will post their reports to the ETS Forum. Check out the arousing and, periodically, weird, gear we found this year at SHOT Display.

It’s been a long time coming, but we just got a brief firsthand look at ACR Electronics’ fresh ResQLink 406 MHz PLB which lays claim to the “world’s smallest and lightest” PLB title. Take a look at ACR’s response to the groundbreaking McMurdo FastFind 210 and detect if it’s been worth the wait.

It’s difficult to make a suspenseful film when it’s about a true story and everyone knows the ending. That was the challenge in the film 127 Hours, the story of Aron Ralston, who in 2003, his arm pinned under a boulder in a remote desert canyon, had to cut off part of his arm to free himself. Read Wil Milan’s review to find out if this is a film worth observing.

The replacement for my recalled SPOT Two has arrived. When I unpacked the padded envelope I found a few surprises. Turns out they did more than just fix the battery life indicator. Get the details here.

At the Consumer Electronics Demonstrate in Las Vegas, Spot LLC, and well-known GPS manufacturer DeLorme announced the world’s very first handheld GPS and satellite communicator product. The DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator will be the very first handheld GPS capable of sending user inputted real time text messages from remote locations. Review the press release and photo of the fresh DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator.

As 2009 comes to a close, we are pleased to report that your generous contributions have again helped us make a difference. 2009 was a busy year for the Tooled To Sustain Foundation and its Executive Director, Doug Ritter, with some significant accomplishments to record. Read a summary of all that’s be done in the past year, along with some hints about what to expect in 2010.

SPOT LLC has issued what they are calling a “Voluntary Comeback Program” for their recently released 2nd generation SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger which even they are now referring to as “SPOT Two.” If you own a 2nd generation SPOT, you need to check to see if your SPOT Two needs to be exchanged for a fresh unit. Get the details here.

Turns out the very first sample we received wasn’t a production SPOT Two after all and wasn’t waterproof in the least. We have now received another SPOT Two and have dunked this one with better results–sort of. Read what we discovered after dunking SPOT Two to its rated depth, as well as a few other interesting discoveries.

The tragedy of the three college softball players who were trapped in their vehicle and drowned in a pond on Sunday was totally preventable, if only someone had tooled them to sustain. All it takes is having the right implement on your keychain.

We eventually got our arms on one of the fresh 2nd generation SPOT Satellite GPS Messengers. While we haven’t been able to truly squash it out, a few days of playing with SPOT have given us a feel for both the improvements and other areas we weren’t fairly as struck with. Check out our initial impression of SPOT Two.

Lifeline’s fresh Ultralight Survival Pak was recently introduced with a similar form factor to the AMK PSP and a lower price. Terrill Hoffman suggests that “if you’re going to make a kit that looks like your competitor’s, be ready for a side by side comparison.” Terrill takes an independent look at the fresh Lifeline kit and answers the question, is it worth worth betting your life on?

SPOT introduced their 2nd generation “SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger” at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. 30% smaller and lighter, the fresh SPOT emerges to address many of the deficiencies we found in the original SPOT. We take a look at the specifications and improvements in our preview of SPOT Two.

While the economy has made it hard to raise funds for expensive testing, we haven’t permitted it to stop us. Using a bit of good old American ingenuity, we have finished up our initial evaluation of McMurdo’s fresh smaller, cheaper Prompt Find PLB. Is the fresh Quick Find worth betting your life on? We’ve got the response.

Ultimate Survival Technologies has resumed shipping its StarFlash Ultra signal mirror. UST claims that “the Ultra mirror will. perform as an emergency signal mirror – moist or dry.” Review our take on the stuation and results of our tests.

BoatU.S. Foundation has published results from their latest tests of visual distress signaling devices, primarily pyrotechnic flares, but also including a few non-pyrotechnic visual distress signals. Their results generally confirm our practice and recommendations, but we did find a few things to pick nits over.

One of the frustrating parts of possessing a 406 MHz EPIRB, PLB or ELT has been that it is almost unlikely for the average consumer to actually test their beacon, at least affordably. SafeLife Systems believes they have the response and want your help to squeeze out their fresh 406 Beacon Test System. Find out how to particpate in a Beta Test Program, get a free beacon test and a discount on their SafeTrip and 406 beacon testing services.

McMurdo announced their fresh generation PLBs at the Miami International Boat Demonstrate and they are significantly smaller, lighter and cheaper than the competition. Check out why these fresh Rapid FIND PLBs could be game changers in the PLB market.

ACR Electronics announced fresh PLBs at SHOT Demonstrate that are evolutionary versions of the current MicrOFix design. One has no GPS, two have improved GPS and added features. See where ACR is taking their PLB line and whether it makes sense to consider an upgrade when they become available this summer.

The Swiss army has entered the fresh millennium with a fresh issue Swiss Army Knife. Victorinox won the competition and we get our very first look at what Swiss soldiers will be carrying into the future. See what all the fuss is about as we put the fresh SAK through its paces.

ACR Electronics has issued a recall on their recently introduced GlobalFix iPRO EPIRB. ACR says the recall is limited to no more than 400 units within a specified serial number range. If you have purchased an ACR GlobalFix iPRO EPIRB, review this information to determine if your EPIRB is involved and how to get the EPIRB motionless.

A number of military, survival and outdoor gear distributors have recently introduced bogus glass signal mirrors, made in Taiwan, to the U.S. market. The mirrors look virtually identical to functional glass signal mirrors at very first glance, but the retro-reflective mesh aimer is fake and does not work. Get all the details, including illustrations of how to make sure your glass signal mirror is real.

Orion Safety Products has LIFTED their QUARANTINE on Skyblazer XLT aerial flares. Orion has now ended testing and determined that when used according to instructions, they are safe. They have issued fresh labels with updated instructions. If you are a Skyblazer XLT proprietor, review this information before use and email to get your FREE revised labels.

I’m not sure whether to be cheered that we have a National Preparedness Month, or depressed. I’d like to believe everyone would take the commonsense effort to be ready for whatever comes our way. On the other palm, that most likely isn’t a very realistic expectation. Are you ready?

Once again there were a few very interesting surprises at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market demonstrate. In an effort to speed up the process, I’m going to publish this review of fresh products in stages over the next few days.We begin with a look at the coolest fresh product I found and a fresh compact one-handed firestarter. Additonal Fresh GEAR has been added!

ETS Foundation Chairman and Executive Director Doug Ritter gave a presentation at the RTCM Annual Conference that served as a shot across the bow for commercial distress alerting services such as SPOT. Traditional distress alerting measures its ROI in “lives saved,” not dollars earned. It’s not that Doug opposes commercial distress alerting, but listen to Doug’s presentation to find out why this should matter to you, as well as to them.

With participation and encouragement from ETS Foundation Chairman and Executive Director Doug Ritter, RTCM has produced a much improved PLB standard. Ever since the very first ETS Foundation 406 MHz Beacon Testing exposed significant shortcomings, Doug has been pushing for better standards. Review what’s switched and improved in the revised RTCM PLB standard.

We have reintroduced Tooled Briefs ™, to permit us to to present brief reviews of fresh survival related gear in a more timely style than our more involved evaluations, but with more information than might be included in an Tooled.org Blog ™, entry. These brief reviews are authored by ETS contributors with expertise in a particular area. To inaugarate the fresh Tooled Briefs ™, , we have reviews of the Nova Tac EDC series LED Flashlights and Venture Medical Kits’ S.O.L. survival kit.

Two of my beloved survival instructors and authors have fresh books out, both dealing with the timely subject of disaster preparedness. The two books compliment each other nicely, each concentrates on a different element of the preparedness solution. Buy both and go after their advice, embark your fresh year off right by equipping yourself and your family to sustain.

We’ve had a TracMe demo kit and some production TracMe beacons to test and it’s time to render a preliminary verdict. There are two primary questions that need answering. Very first, does it work, or more precisely, does it perform as represented by the manufacturer and will it meet consumers’ expectations? Read what we found out about using the Trac-Me and what the answers are to those questions. 2nd, does it have value as a means to save lives? Also, in related news, in our Tooled.org Blog we note that TracMe is opposing the FCC’s request that they stop calling it a Private Locator Beacon.

In a rather timely Safety Recommendation from the NTSB to the FAA (one wonders if the Steve Fossett incident had anything to do with its release just now), the NTSB has once again recommended that the FAA require all aircraft to have 406 MHz ELTs. They very first recommended this back in 2000 and after vigorous opposition by AOPA, the FAA declined to do so. The NTSB also recommended that this be required to be done by the February 1, 2009 end of 121.Five MHz satellite alerting. Doug Ritter takes a look at some of the issues and offers some opinions on his Tooled.org Blog.

SPOT Inc., a subsidiary of Globalstar, introduced its subscription-based SPOT Satellite Messenger which is being promoted as a multi-purpose contraption that can used as a distress beacon as well as providing options to request help without a utter deep-throated Search and Rescue response. It can also be used to notify friends, family or associates that you are okay and as a means to track your location. Join us as we take a preliminary Very first Look to see if we’re willing to consider betting our life on SPOT at this juncture.

In years past, Outdoor Retailer hasn’t been a particularly fertile ground for us, SHOT Demonstrate is generally where the big influx of fresh gear comes that’s of interest. However, this year there were fairly a few interesting fresh products in Salt Lake. Take a look at what Doug found at Outdoor Retailer.

It has been discovered that the Federal Communications Commission has substantially supported Doug Ritter’s position regarding TracMe Beacons Pty Ltd misrepresenting their device as a Private locator Beacon and demanded they stop using the term. Because documents may take up to 30 days to be posted on the FCC site, this explains why these were not discovered until just now. What isn’t explained is why TracMe didn’t disclose this and instead defended their use of the term even after they had received the FCC email a month ago. Read further details and view the FCC email.

The latest introduction of the TracMe Individual Locator Beacon is causing confusion among consumers. If you are thinking of buying one to serve as your distress beacon. DON’T! Doug Ritter examines the issues involved and explains why this misleading name could end up killing people. Doug reviews the critical differences inbetween a real 406 MHz PLB and this homing beacon. TracMe may well have a place in the effort to save lives, but in Doug’s opinion using the PLB name is not a good idea. Read Doug’s commentary and you determine if TracMe is doing the right thing.

ACR Electronics chose SHOT Showcase to debut their long anticipated PLB-300 MicroFix / ResQFix 406 Individual Locator Beacons. ACR claims these are the world’s smallest PLB with built in GPS, weighing in at under Ten oz. They also addressed a lot of other issues we’ve had with prior PLB designs. There was also good news for those looking to buy a capable PLB on a budget. We take a very first look at this fresh PLB and the surprising pricing news from ACR.

Knives are among man’s oldest implements and an essential contraption even today. Knife Rights, Inc., a non-profit advocacy organization, has been formed by Doug Ritter to oppose efforts to restrict knife ownership and carry. Yes, the “Anti’s” truly do want to take away our knives. Find out more about Knife Rights and why YOU should Join TODAY! (opens a fresh browser window)

A climber who was stranded on a cliff in Big Arch National Park used his 406 MHz Private Locator Beacon (PLB) to signal his distress and get rescued. He credits Tooled To Sustain for informing him about the PLB that saved his life.

When we very first eyed Greatland Laser’s prototype ",Rescue Laser Flare", in 1999 we were greatly affected as it seemed to herald a significant improvement in nighttime signaling. Over the years there have been significant improvements, including adding a Green Rescue Laser to the mix.Our updated review takes a look at the latest versions of this distress signal.

The Kim family’s survival story and the tragedy of the loss of the father has captured the attention of the nation this past week. No matter how heroic his effort to save his family, it didn’t have to end this way. Every tragedy like this is the result of numerous missed opportunities to prevent it from happening. Intercede at any point and tragedy is averted. Doug Ritter examines those missed opportunities so you can avoid a tragic ending.

The trouble with many so-called “Rescue” knives is that they don’t work almost as well as they should, or could, in the real world. Knifemaker and firefighter Rick Hinderer designed his own solution, Gerber produced it and we asked our resident firefighter and paramedic to test it. Read what Alan Romania has to say about the fresh Hinderer Rescue Knife.

The question is, are you ready? Are you a member of the Church of Preparedness? By that, I mean, have you ready to either shelter in place or evacuate with adequate survival gear and supplies if a disaster, natural or man-made strikes? The tragedies of Katrina and September 11 are still vivid in our memory, but has it motivated you to do anything? Preparedness is everyone’s private responsibility, as ETS Editor Doug Ritter notes in his commentary on National Preparedness Month.

Sensational very first look at fresh and revised Leatherman Charge models, as well as the recently announced Leatherman Hunting Knives. The latest Charge model is a response to what consumers have been asking for. The fresh hunting knives are unique in many ways, proof that fresh management at Leatherman is thinking outside of the box. Check out the newest Leathermans.

Some of the most critical Recommendations in the Tooled To Get through Foundation’s ground-breaking very first report on 406 MHz Location Protocol (GPS) Emergency Beacons were a call for better standards more closely related to real-world use. See how your contributions permit Doug Ritter to thrust for these revised COSPAS-SARSAT standards that go a long way toward ensuring that these beacons will work as expected when lives are at stake.

In 2004 ETS finished a ground violating evaluation of GPS-equipped 406 MHz Emergency Beacons. Notable deficiencies were uncovered. Now ETS has ended a 2nd round of testing, including upgraded versions of the beacons that didn’t perform well the very first time. See how well McMurdo’s upgraded beacons performed, as well as ACR’s fresh PLB with integrated GPS. The utter report of the very first evaluation is also now available.

The Kel-Tec SU-16 line of folding stock .223 rifles are a fairly fresh option for those seeking a lightweight, compact, mid-range wilderness survival firearm. Ed Whiting puts the SU-16 through its paces and reports on what he found.

Many mourn the untimely death of Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger, Jeff Christensen. Tooled To Get through Foundation’s Doug Ritter asks why he and other rangers have not been tooled with a 406 MHz Individual Locator Beacon. PLBs would save lives and taxpayer’s money. Doug suggests it’s time to deploy this proven and affordable lifesaver to the guardians of our nation’s natural heritage, before another tragedy occurs.

The tarp is the epitome of a basic shelter, but that hardly means it is limited in how it can be used. David B. Macpherson provides an excellent introduction to the subject. There’s a wealth of information on their use and construction, covering everything from the most basic instantaneous act shelter to sophisticated multifaceted structures. Review the multitudes of shelters that can be created from a plain tarp.

NOAA’s online United States 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database is ultimately operational. This online registration capability will be a boon to both 406 MHz PLB, ELT and EPIRB owners and to the SAR compels that go out to rescue them. Read about the many advantages online registration offers..

The latest blackout to hit the Eastern U.S. and Canada served as a wake up call for many. A little emergency preparedness effort can go a long way towards illuminating the darkness. Let Tooled To Sustain ™, guide you in preparing for these sorts of widespread, brief term urban emergencies. Review our Disaster Preparedness section today.

The latest brouhaha involving Aron Ralston serves as a reminder as to why Tooled To Get through ™, exists. Damn near anything can happen out there and survival stories are a big part of how we learn and how we encourage people to be Tooled To Get through ™, Doug shares a few thoughts on the subject of survival stories.

Evaluations of Eight Private Survival Kits

It is spring cleaning time and we’ve cleared the desk, adding eight fresh commercial private survival kit (PSK) reviews, including some of the best we’ve seen to date:

Care Package and Equipment

Suggestions for Deployed Military

Now that the government’s Department of Homeland Security has made its terrorism preparedness suggestions on their READY.GOV Web site, Doug Ritter has evaluated their preparedness checklists. You might not be too astonished to learn that Doug has found them wanting in some respects.

Given the choice in a coerced landing, is it better to choose trees or water? Paul Bertorelli has the response, and it might not be as clear cut as you expect. See what Paul’s research turned up.

Renowned marine survival authority and author Steven Callahan, a survivor of 76 days adrift himself, shares some insights about what to expect from a life raft. All life rafts are a compromise, Callahan offers some thoughts on these compromises from his unique perspective.

You don’t need to be stranded a hundred miles from civilization to find yourself in a survival situation. Chris Kavanaugh found himself stranded on an island within view of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Chris tells the story of how he and four others were stranded and how he relied on basic survival abilities and equipment to get through and signal for rescue. Doug Ritter analyzes how Chris and his companions did and the lessons learned.

We gathered up all the white LED flashlights we could find, and some other colors as well, and now present Tooled To Get through’s ™, humongous LED Flashlight Review. You’ll find both single and multi-LED lights, from pocket size on up to 24 LED monsters. Read all about the the best and the worst in this hot fresh product category.

After two years’ fastidious preparations, he thought he was ready. Arnold Rowe recounts the story of his ill-fated voyage to Hawaii, replete with equipment failures, medical problems and a helicopter rescue by the Coast Guard. Pictures from movie clips of the rescue included! Doug Ritter analyzes what went right and what went wrong. Rowe’s real life practice also validates some findings from the Marine Life Raft Tests.

Simon T was entered in the London To Sydney Air Race. ETS Editor Doug Ritter’s job was to make sure he was Tooled To Sustain. With weight a major concern and diverse environmental requirements, that made for fairly a challenge. Read all about Simon’s custom-built built and assembled survival gear and supplies.

ETS is pleased to present this innovative Survival Simulator that was developed as an independent student project for the ThinkQuest competition. While somewhat simplistic, it does get you thinking about a myriad of survival issues and it is entertaining. Have a go at it and see if you know how to Stay Alive ™, .

This is the most comprehensive review of aviation rafts ever published. Check out the life rafts: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

It was nighttime and raining when Ray Clamback successfully ditched 300 miles northeast of Hawaii. But for some extreme good luck they might well have perished. This narrative, based on interviews with the survivors and U.S. Coast Guard pilots, tells the story of that ditching and survival practice and analyses the lessons learned.

ETS takes a detailed look at what equipment and supplies should be included in an Abandon Ship Bag. More than just a list, this article provides the information you need to set priorities and make decisions about what to include.

Two wilderness aircraft crashes. The pilots in both get through the crash. But, two very different endings–one lives, the other dies. William Waldock examines the question: Why the difference?

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