The Swiss Army Knife (SAK) is one of the most iconic multi-tools in the world, and for good reason. Found in toolboxes, pockets, and glove compartments everywhere, the SAK is available in dozens of configurations with different tools, shapes, sizes, and designs. We reached out to the leading SAK manufacturer, Victorinox, to try something new from their lineup that we thought you guys would enjoy. They graciously sent us a sample of their EvoWood 17 to consider. It stands apart from the usual candy red Swiss Army Knives with its genuine walnut hardwood scales, while boasting 9 tools capable of 13 different features in one 85mm package. Read on to find out how the EvoWood 17 held up in our EDC.
Spyderco releases several knives per year in lots of different shapes, sizes and styles. Only recently have they produced knives with a "flipper" opening mechanism. While Spyderco's larger flipper knives are still EDC-friendly, none of them are as well-suited to daily carry as the Dice. Premium materials, an integrated liner lock, carbon fiber scales, and most notably, a convenient flipper blade opening mechanism are just a few of the features seen in the Dice. I’ve been carrying the Dice exclusively for two months now, read on to see how this EDC friendly blade held up.
Not all cables are designed with carry in mind. As a result, stock cables or cheap alternatives tend to tangle, fray, or end up becoming a hassle to carry in general. Native Union, on the other hand, puts plenty of thought into something as simple as our charge/sync cables. They sent over their BELT Cable for me to check out — here’s my quick review.
Coming off a streak of handling mostly modern minimalist cardholders, I decided to take a look at other interesting, EDC-worthy wallets. Taking some suggestions from our readers who prefer more traditional materials, I opted for wallets made from leather.
Not just any leather, though. I was aiming high.
I reached out to a local leather goods and carry brand — MAKR out of Orlando, FL. They’ve been in the leather goods game for years, hand-crafting high quality wallets, keychains, and other essentials. They graciously sent over some samples for me to test.
In this review, I’ll go over two of my favorites: the Round Wallet in Matte Navy and the Zip Slim Wallet in Charcoal. There are enough similarities in these wallets to do a double-feature review, but they’re unique enough on their own to deserve some specific commentary.
At this SHOT Show this year, we saw dozens of new releases from popular knife manufacturers. But one unfamiliar brand stood out in particular for their collection of high quality, traditionally-inspired blades — Katz Knives. After we showed interest in their knives, they kindly hooked us up with some of their samples. We thought you’d enjoy some photos and first impressions of this unique-looking folder.
Almost everyone carries at least one mobile device these days. But not all devices offer the battery life we need to stay connected throughout the day. An external battery is the most obvious solution, but the market is so saturated with these gadgets that it's hard to find the right one for your carry. For all the on-the-go work I need to do to keep this site running, I eventually settled on Limefuel products. I’ve purchased two of their chargers last year, but Limefuel generously sent over an updated version of the mid-size L156X Pro I was using before to consider here. In this review, I’ll touch upon both, but I’ll focus mainly on the smaller, more EDC-able L60X model.The Specs
Capacity: 6000 mAh for L60X / 15600 mAh for L156X Pro
Input/Output: 5V 1.8A for L60X / 5V 2.4A for L156X Pro
Size: 3.6” x 1.7” x 0.9” for L60X / 4.8" x 3.1" x 0.9" for L156X Pro
Weight: 4.6 oz for L60X / 12.8 oz for L156X Pro
Built-in LED battery level indicator
Emergency LED flashlight
2-in-1 USB to Micro USB / Apple Lightning CableDesign, Fit & Finish
Limefuel’s “Blast” line takes a middle ground between the ultra compact lipstick-style chargers and the sleek, familiar rectangular power banks. The oval shape affords fantastic ergonomics in hand — the rounded edges curve and fit to your grip, while the flat sides lay securely on your palm or on a table (something you can’t do with the lipstick chargers).
And it’s not just the shape that produces these awesome ergos — the entire body is covered in this finessed rubberized grip. It makes edges comfortably smooth, prevents slippage, and just looks cool (if you can tolerate occasional smudges).
There’s a button flush on the side of the body that activates the battery indicator lights with a single press. It's positioned perfectly for right-handers, but lefties can very comfortably access the button using their index finger. Press again to turn on a dinky 5mm LED flashlight. It’s not the greatest, but I appreciate that it’s there just in case.
On the top face of the charger are In and Out ports on either side of the LED. You charge the pack itself via micro USB using the In port, while the Out port handles on-the-go (or pass-through) charging of whichever device is low on juice. The larger, L156X model has four output ports so you can charge all your tech essentials at once, or make some new friends with dying phones.
Limefuel conveniently includes a 2-in-1 cable that’s useful for charging devices and the battery itself. However, it’s not MFi certified by Apple, so it isn’t ideal for data transfer. But from an EDC standpoint, it does so many things right. It’s a ribbon cable, so it’s hard to tangle in your bag or pocket (it has never knotted on me). An adjustable loop that’s attached to the cable makes it easy to bundle up. Its USB terminal does away with extraneous connector bulk, and the other end cleverly fits a micro USB and a Lightning without having to detach anything from the cable. Even if you already have a favorite charging cable, it’s hard to beat the included one for an on-the-go solution.
The Blast chargers perform as you’d expect from a high-quality consumer external battery pack. Respectable speeds of 1.8A and 2.4A in their larger capacity chargers are fast enough to get you out of the red in a reasonable time. 6000 mAh in the L60X allows for almost three full charges on an iPhone 6, which seems even more impressive considering just how compact the power bank is.
I’ve also never experienced the frustration of hooking my phone up to the pack and not having it start charging right away. Plugging in any device, micro USB or Lightning, would charge without a hitch. I know that sounds like it should be an obvious, requisite functionality of a charger, but with so many cheap cables and batteries flooding the market, it’s not as common as you’d expect.
With that said, there isn’t much left to say about how it charges other than it actually does it, at a good pace, many times over.
As much as I appreciate the rounded rectangle form factor for strictly in-hand comfort, the L60X doesn’t feel quite right in the pocket. This is where the thin, card-shaped chargers have an advantage. I preferred keeping my L60X in my jacket pocket, or in my back jeans pocket when standing. However, when it comes to bag carry, I found the oval form factor does it better than the thin, wide rectangular shape. It actually fits well in MOLLE-type webbing that you’d find in tactical packs or pocket organizers. If you really need something in your front pocket at all times, you’ll likely have to sacrifice a ton of capacity to get something more your size.Pros & Cons
Light and compact for EDC and comfortable ergonomics
Handy, sensible features like battery indicator, backup light and pass-through charging
Included cable designed with EDC in mind
L156X: Four, fast ports and huge capacity for its size
Awkward to pocket carry
Plastic micro USB to Lightning converter piece can snap (not break) off easily
L156X: Very dense and heavy feeling unless in a backpack or similar large bag.Conclusion
At only $30, it was an easy purchase for me to make. It works reliably, manages to cram plenty of capacity and thoughtful, functional features into a compact, appealing form factor with fantastic ergos. Better yet, the all-in-one solution of a cable it comes with adds even more value. While I personally prefer the rubberized black L60X for its all-around size, grip, and capacity, you can’t go wrong with their other, larger models if you need more juice or ports.
If you’ve been following along with our Carry Smarter features, you should be familiar with the value of carrying a pen and the allure of titanium. In this review, we’ll give Ti2 Design’s TechLiner titanium pen a closer look. As a writer, I’m particular about my pens. As an EDCer, there’s no other metal I want my gear made from than titanium. So when Mike Bond and the masters of titanium at Ti2 Design sent over their take on the machined titanium EDC pen, I was intrigued. Maybe skeptical is a better word. The pen certainly didn’t look like other pens on the market. No clicky, but a cap instead? A short barrel? An exposed needle tip? Nonetheless, I slipped it into my pocket to begin “testing.” What started as a trial run turned into months of daily use. In this review, I’ll touch on what qualities kept the TechLiner in my rotation, and what I feel could be improved.
Full CP2 grade 2 titanium construction
5” Length (Shorty Version) / .375” Body Diameter, .4375” Cap Diameter
Takes Uni-ball Signo 207 Refills
Neodymium N42 magnets in cap and tailDesign, Fit & Finish
The TechLiner’s unique design takes inspiration from the pens that engineers, designers, and architects used for technical work. The exposed “needle point” writing tip lends a high level of precision to meet the standards of engineers and artists alike. The pen’s machined grip portion adds even more control with its distinct grooves. The other end of the pen looks identical, simplifying the design and allowing the cap to feel the same when posted on the other side. I found its pocket clip to look disproportionately small compared to the rest of the pen, even on this shorter version. True to its technical roots, it has that industrial feel without looking too sterile. The attention to detail is there. I dig it.Operation and PerformanceHOW DO THEY WORK
Uncapping the TechLiner was one of those magical moments for me. It reminded me why I love well-designed gear so much. When you think of how a pen with a cap should work, chances are it's something like what Ti2 Design managed to achieve on the TechLiner. You pull the cap with a deliberate amount of force and it pops right off — without the hassle of twisting, rattling, clicking, and so on. But then you’d think, “Oh, so I’m responsible for this cap now?” until you post the cap, seemingly through telekinesis, without lifting a finger. “Yoooooo…” That was the first time a pen ever got me audibly hyped in the office. I let everyone I meet who’s remotely into gear experience this. Having to uncap a pen isn't the most convenient, but Ti2 Design took every measure to make the process as close to perfect as possible with the TechLiner."Dear Diary, yo this pen is sick."
With the cap posted, the slight heft of its titanium construction offers this pleasant balance that I was surprised to feel in a shorter pen (the regular TechLiner felt a little unwieldy to me). The grip is sized just right and patterned for adequate control. You might run into problems if you’re used to really choking up on your pens. The grip stops short and the nose is truncated to create the exposed tip. And while this body only takes Signo 207 refills, it still glides on paper with the precision you’d expect from a technical instrument. It’s so smooth that you can fly through sentences before the ink has a chance to dry. That could be problematic for lefties or anyone prone to smudging during scribble sessions.Carry Options
Unfortunately, its pocket clip isn’t as good as the rest of the pen. It looks small and insubstantial, but it actually feels too strong. On rare occasions when I didn’t have it angled just right, the clip would snag on my pocket. It could be because it’s a narrow clip to begin with, or the clearance is a bit tight. It definitely got better over time but the clip rides too high in the pocket — for my tastes anyway. For most of my testing period, I just took the clip off and loose-pocketed it. The tumbled Ti finish is resistant enough to handle that and the Shorty design lends better to deep pocket carry. It’s also important to note that the exposed tip makes the pen more prone to damage if dropped. Without a clip, there’s no anti-roll mechanism. One roll off the desk was all it took to make my refill stop writing. A quick e-mail to Ti2 and their customer service took care of me promptly.Pros & Cons
Best cap and post mechanism on an everyday pen I’ve handled
Compact size with nice weight
Smooth, balanced, precise writing experience
Plenty of customization options
Only accepts 1 line of refills, dries slowly
Exposed tip makes it prone to damage
Pocket clip rides slightly highThe end of the pen extends quite far past the clip.Conclusion
All the ways this pen is different from the rest are reason alone to pick one up for yourself. I respect that Ti2 Design decided to let other machined pens do what they do best (refill compatibility, silent knock clickies or precision threaded caps) and instead fulfilled a niche with beautiful execution. It’s not perfect in an everyday carry context — a cap to lose, magnets in your pocket, a high-riding clip, and exposed tip are not “ideal” for longevity. Given its competitive price and truly unique experience, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in more people’s pockets. It definitely has a place in mine.
Disclosure: Ti2 Design sent this product at no charge to be considered for review. This does not affect my opinion of the product.
Keep it simple. Keep it tight. For designer Jack Sutter and his Brooklyn-based company, TGT (pronounced “tight”), that’s the motto. It’s important to keep that in mind to understand their line of wallets, from form to function. They remain the most successful Kickstarter-funded wallets to date, giving rise to plenty of competing minimalist wallets vying to ride the waves they’ve made. In this review, I look at the wallets from a carry-centric perspective to see if they’re as successful in an EDC as they were on Kickstarter.Specs
2.25 in. x 2.75 in.
8.0 g empty weight
Premium Italian lambskin leather pocket
Elastic canvas sleeve
Handmade in the USADesign, Fit & Finish
Keep it simple. That, it does. At first glance, their best-selling Americana 2.0 Wallet looks like little more than a small, streamlined piece of canvas with a leather pocket in front. But after stuffing some cash and a few cards into it, you’ll find it’s quite a clever, minimalist design. As you might expect from a minimalist wallet, every non-functional fraction of an inch is shaved from its dimensions, unnecessary bulk is cut down, and what’s left is simultaneously barebones and attractive. Aside from extensive organization, you don’t feel like you’re “losing” much from a design this minimal. It’s simple but not sloppy in execution. Instead, it strikes a great balance of premium and casual, I think in part due to the tasteful color ways and quality materials used throughout. The canvas backing is soft but not flimsy. The Italian lambskin leather pocket? Butter.Performance & OperationQuality canvas backing leaves cards partially exposed, but also easy to access with a push or a tug.
Keep it tight. It delivers on that too. You slide cards into the elastic canvas, which has enough give to accommodate a higher number of cards, but can also snap back to fit snugly around just a few. The texture of the canvas was another big win for the wallet, as it’s grippy enough for your fingers but smooth enough for cards to slide out only when you want them to, unlike minimalist wallets that fight you with tight, death-grip rubber bands for retention. Since there’s no “bottom” to the wallet, cards can be pushed out using your thumb or pulled up from the top. Either way, I found myself sliding the whole stack out just to grab a card anyway, since there’s no real individual card organization.Tri-folding will turn a few bills thick quick, making stowing cash not so tight.
If you like to carry some cash, you can do that by folding a note in half, then in half again, and stuffing the tri-folded cash in the lambskin pocket. It definitely keeps it tight — maybe too tight for me, personally. On several occasions at the register, if I’m given more than a few bills in change, I reluctantly stuff the notes into my front pocket and sort it out later.
This is where the TGT Wallet encourages minimalism on you. The wallet’s tight and simple design unfortunately makes stowing small bills not trivial. It’s a tradeoff in ease of use that you might find in a traditional bifold for its extremely small footprint. I’d recommend keeping larger bills or emergency cash in there only. The extra slant pocket on their Deluxe models offers another layer of organization, but I feel it’s better suited for small essentials like a key, coin, or (micro)SD card.
This wallet is small. Rivaling a money clip, even. The buttery lambskin front, not-too-grippy canvas back and overall thin profile make it a comfortable front pocket carry. Better yet, it’ll play nice with the rest of your gear, so you can go on ahead and slide your phone behind it without worry of scratches. If I had any complaints about pocketing this thing, is that it might be too small, to the point where I'm digging way deep into my pocket only to inadvertently slide out my cards from the top of the wallet, rather than pulling the whole thing out as intended.Pros & Cons
Impressively compact. Simple. Tight.
Quality materials (read: butter)
Comfortable in hand and in pocket
Attractive designs and colors
Tri-folding bills into the cash pocket is a chore
Lackluster features and organizationWrapping Up
Keep it simple. Keep it tight. It’s worth repeating because it so accurately describes this wallet, in both its triumphs and in its faults. It’s a minimalist wallet for people who still want familiar textures, like leather and canvas instead of aluminum and carbon fiber. Given its premium materials and construction, I'd say it's priced fairly, and there are enough color options to find something to match your style. Ultimately, it’s not perfect, especially when faced with even a modest wad of cash. However, it does so many things right by not straying far from simplicity. I can definitely see why TGT has so many fans.
SHOP NOW ($34+)
Disclosure: TGT graciously provided these wallet samples for the purpose of this review at no charge. However, this doesn’t affect my opinion of the wallets! This post also uses affiliate links, which helps keep this site running.
In an increasingly cashless world, the money clip has become an overlooked yet effective carry option for a minimalist’s cards and cash. In this review, we find out if the Superior Titanium mini-Viper Money Clip has any bite.
Tactile Turn Brass Mover Review
Tactile Turn have been turning heads among pen addicts and EDCers alike with their machined aluminum pens in recent months. Now, they’re back on Kickstarter in all new materials. Do these new pens continue to live up to their names as movers and shakers in the pen market? Read more for my hands-on review of the new Brass Tactile Turn Mover, provided by Will from Tactile Turn.
Tactile Turn have returned to Kickstarter to start production on these updated versions of their already successful Mover and Shaker pens, which we recommended in Vol. 4 of our Carry Smarter buying guide series. The new Mover and Shaker pens are essentially the same great pens — expertly machined clicky pens that accommodate a variety of refills with a unique micro-ribbed grip section, but updated with new materials and finishes this time around. I was sent the Mover in Brass, which is the longer pen in the Tactile Turn lineup at a respectable 5.55” length. The brass barrel affords a significant heft, weighing in at 2.51 oz — over twice the weight of its original aluminum counterpart. Along with the heft comes a bright, beautiful golden hue, contrasted against polished stainless steel hardware on the pocket clip and click mechanism. The Mover employs sleek, industrial design language that when combined with the gleaming brass and steel hardware, results in a striking, almost luxurious look. Much of the Mover’s sexiness comes from its impeccable fit and finish. It takes close inspection to even tell where the barrel unscrews to access the refill.
Included out of the box is a Pilot G2 refill, but the Mover can take at least 20 different refills to suit your preference. The refill of your choice is deployed using a sturdy metal clicky, or knock mechanism. Having a retractable tip and a quick and near-silent knock mechanism is ideal for EDC, mainly for its convenience and ease of access when you need to get writing without fussing over unscrewing caps, keeping track of a loose cap, and so on. I’ve tested the pen both out in my day to day as well as at my office desk, and it was consistently up to the task every time. When making quick notes or signing receipts, I had no trouble unclipping the pen, advancing the pen tip, and scribbling here and there. One of the standout features of Tactile Turn pens is the grip portion. It flares ever so slightly out from the already beefy barrel to give you plenty to hold on to, then provides extra surface area to grip through fine, precisely-machined grooves. It rides the sweetspot between being comfortably grippy without being overly aggressive, which is important to control a pen this heavy.
For longer writing sessions at my desk, it handles like no other pen I’ve used before. While I expected a pen this heavy to make writing effortless, as the weight of the pen itself imparts most of the downward pressure when writing, I was really impressed by how comfortable the writing experience was. Above the famed smoothness of the G2 refill and the precision the grip provided, the almost magical balance of the pen is what really elevated the Mover from writing instrument to an inky extension of my hand. The writing experience for me was similar to using a fountain pen in that no pressure was required, but with the awesome durability and convenience of a clicky ballpoint. Sort of like the best of both worlds from an EDC standpoint.
I’ve heard some common excuses for not carrying a pen, even from people who wish they had one with them: they lose or break them all the time. I can’t foresee that happening at all with the Mover. The pocket clip is super sturdy and rides really low and snug in my pants pocket. Factor in the heft of brass and it’s not going anywhere. And if it does, you’d be sure to feel it. A solid machined brass barrel is near indestructible, so there’s no worry of leakage in my experience. There were only a few instances where the knock mechanism seemed a little loose from riding in the pocket, and over 2-3 weeks of EDC the clip has let up ever so slightly. Overall, I’m confident I can carry it anywhere.
Reviewer Score: 5/5
Excellent balance in hand, effective grip, pleasant heft
Comfortable, smooth writing with included G2, also very versatile in accommodating refills
Cons:Pocket clip loosened up ever so slightly over time
Barrel might be too wide, heavy, or rigid for some
I don’t throw out a 5/5 score very often, but after extended use and carry, the Mover is hard to fault. It’s beautiful, it’s well-built, it performs when and where I want, and it absolutely slays each page with a robust elegance. Its flaws, if any, are minor or a matter of preference. Its Kickstarter price of $60 is still a great value, considering how long this pen should serve you. If you’re looking for a pen that lets you make a statement in more ways than one, this is it.
distilunion Wally Stick-on Review
For the minimalists out there, chances are your phone and your wallet make up the bulk of your carry. The Wally Stick-On wallet adheres to your iPhone, slimming down two of your most essential items to one. It’s promising in theory, but how well does having a wallet stuck to your phone and vice versa really work? Read more for my review of the Wally Stick-On wallet and to enter a Wally Case giveaway, all provided by distilunion.
The Wally Stick-On is a single-piece leather cardholder that attaches to the back of an iPhone using a high quality, 3M adhesive backing. It’s shaped and cut to protect the back of the phone from scratches, with some clearance left for the rear-facing camera and dual flash. With proper application, it sits tight and flush, without adding much thickness to the phone. At first glance, the Wally looks like nothing more than a protective leather cover for the back of your phone, especially when empty. A quick pull of the ribbon tab pushes the Wally’s contents up for quick and easy access: distilunion recommends three cards and a trifolded bill. After using the cards, pushing them back into the Wally also pushes the ribbon tab back into place. There’s no fussing with snap enclosures, zippers, or fighting resistance of rubber bands and magnets here. The ribbon is easy to use for both retrieving and storing cards. It’s a surprisingly satisfying experience coming from such a simple mechanism.
Admittedly, I began testing the Wally with some skepticism — while I’m all for minimalist wallets, I’m not one to use a phone case. I find cases can change the physical feel of using a phone, while adding bulk and weight. I had to get used to the Wally Stick-On in a number of ways: first, my phone felt completely different in hand. However, the added thickness of just a few cards combined with the texture of the leather lent a pleasant, comfortable curvature to the phone, reminiscent of the iPhone 3GS ergonomics. The next thing I had to adjust to was the unwarranted anxiety of having your phone and wallet stuck together — sometimes I’d think I left my wallet at home. But for everyday use, it’s convenient and really simplifies my EDC. It carries not much thicker than do a phone or wallet on their own, so I could comfortably keep it in my front pocket where I’d normally keep wallet, and just as easily throw it in my back pocket where I keep my phone, which is some welcome versatility when it comes to carry options. However, with this setup, I couldn’t carry as much as I used to or wanted to. For the Wally to really excel at what it does, I needed to limit my cards to my three most important ones and carry a single $20 bill or no cash at all. Otherwise, the leather on the Wally stretches out a bit, and also pulling the adhesive towards the top of the wallet off slightly. While distilunion offers “recharge” packs to make the Wally stick like new, fixing stretched out leather is more involved. Although the capacity of the Wally leaves something to be desired, I really appreciated its simple, effective operation, the convenience of combining my phone and my wallet, as well as the pocket space it affords. Eventually, one of my coworkers saw the Wally, ripped it off my phone and stuck it to his, then immediately stuffed it with business cards. By effectively ending my testing period prematurely, he revealed just how appealing and versatile the Wally can be even for people who already have a wallet they prefer.
Reviewer Score: 4.0/5
Protects phone without much bulk
Versatile as a secret pocket
One less thing to carry, and it carries well
Cons:"Uh oh, I lost my phone!" becomes "Uh oh, I lost my phone AND my wallet!"
Limited capacity and organization
Doesn’t handle cash or change well
Affects physical handling of phone
Calling the Wally a wallet might be a bit of a misnomer — it certainly can hold cards and some cash, but it really feels more like a phone accessory with a wallet functionality. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just speaks to how readily the Wally unobtrusively takes a back seat and gives access to your cards while protecting your phone, and how versatile it can be as a secret pocket for business cards, emergency cash, or anything else you want with you out of sight and out of mind until you need it.
Because the review sample I tested has been slightly stretched and severely de-stickied (as well as taken by my coworker), we’re giving away a brand new Case version of the Wally, courtesy of DistilUnion. Good luck and carry on!
Native Union JUMP Cable Review & Giveaway
If you rely on your smartphone everyday, battery life shouldn’t stop you from getting the most out of your phone. There are several ways to keep your phone charged, but not without their flaws. Most power banks are too bulky to EDC, wall chargers are very limiting when out and about, and cables can tangle or fray when tossed in a bag. Native Union puts forth their JUMP Cable as a 2-in-1 solution for mobile charging on the go. Read more for my review of the JUMP Cable and for a chance to win one for your EDC, courtesy of Native Union.
Despite what its name may suggest, the JUMP Cable is more than just a cable — it’s an 800mAh external battery too, providing over 30% of charge to an iPhone 5, or somewhere between 24-28% for a 5S, depending on usage during charging and age of the battery. The JUMP can also be used as pass through cable for high-speed (2.4A), prioritized charging using what Native Union calls AutoCharge technology. The USB to Lightning version of the JUMP is MFI certified by Apple, allowing you to confidently sync and transfer data using the cable. Physically, the cable is braided and slightly stiffened, making it less prone to tangling and fraying when carried. The ends of the cables are also very slim, resembling 1st party Lightning cables, ensuring compatibility with most phone cases. The ends of the cable snap flushly into recesses in the center of the battery when not in use, while the stiffened cable wraps perfectly around the perimeter of the battery portion. Best of all, unlike most external battery bricks, this thing is impressively compact at just 1.96in x 1.96in and 1.4 oz. Native Union has received several accolades for their product design — after seeing how they’ve managed to eliminate the hassle of carrying a brick of a battery and the tangly, fragile mess of an overly long charging cable, I’d say their praise is very much deserved.
Charging your phone with the JUMP is easy enough — pull the Lightning end of the cable out of its center slot and unravel the cable a bit, plug into the phone and press a small button on the JUMP to begin. Three small LEDs indicate the charging state and capacity of the JUMP. According to specs, a full discharge in battery mode should take about 35 minutes at 1A, providing around 24%-28% of charge to my iPhone 5S. In my testings, I didn’t quite get as much of a charge. For me, it took about 20 minutes to completely discharge, giving me a consistent extra 20% of battery. That was without actively using the phone, just as if it were in my pocket or on my desk. As a disclaimer, I use my phone a lot. So much so that I’ve jailbroken it to use it in even more ways. I use my phone so much for music, photos, texting, and most importantly, keeping tabs on the blog when I’m away from my desk. I feel a distinct anxiety when I see a single pixel sliver of red and a 1% in the top right of my screen. So although the JUMP Cable delivered less than its promised 24%, I figure for the average, non-jailbroken iPhone user, the JUMP should charge adequately. With that said, I think even 20% under high stress is a welcome boost at the end of the day. It’s enough to get my phone out of the red and to get me to a power source.
I can forgive the marginal discrepancy in performance because the product, by design, foregoes huge capacities for something that’s truly pocketable. I respect that decision and admire the execution of it. I effortlessly carried it in my coin pocket, zip wallet, and bag. It doesn’t scratch anything, discharge on accident, tangle or fray. But the plastic housing can get scratched a bit, and the white plastic parts of the cable can get dirty — neither of which affect performance. My other complaint would be that when actually charging your phone on the go, it does kind of dangle awkwardly from the bottom of the phone. It’s just a mild inconvenience to deal with for half an hour or so.
Reviewer Score: 4.5/5
2-in-1 function as battery and passthrough cable
Quality construction, fit and finish of a well-designed product
Cons:No elegant solution for how to carry the JUMP on the go during charging period
800mAh capacity might not suffice for power users
Considering the JUMP Cable’s massively successful $372,000 Kickstarter campaign and the fact that I begrudgingly carry a 0.8lb external battery and a 10ft long cable to charge my phone on the go, I had high hopes for the JUMP. While it can’t charge my phone 8 times over, it’s still a wonderful for what it is — an elegant, well-executed way to provide a small but significant charge to your phone at the end of the day. You can pick one up for yourself at Native Union at the link below, or enter our giveaway to win one of three JUMP Cables (Lightning or Micro USB), graciously furnished by Native Union.
BIGiDESIGN Ti-POST RAW Review
Whether you like letting your ideas flow on old fashioned pen and paper or getting your work done with the processing power of a modern tablet and stylus, the Ti-POST RAW from BIGiDESIGN is designed to handle it all. In this review, I put this titanium machined pen (graciously provided by BIGiDESIGN) to the test.
We gave BIGiDESIGN a nod of approval in our Best EDC Pens buying guide a while back for their Aluminum Pen + Stylus. The Ti-POST RAW in this review boasts many of the same features but comes upgraded in titanium and attempts to address some of the balance issues found in earlier versions of the pen.
There’s a lot of great things to be found in the pen upon first glance. I immediately appreciated its solid TA2 titanium body, its beautiful machining, and flawless fit and finish. The pen’s overall aesthetic relies mostly on its pristine machining and much-desired titanium materials, as the rest of its features are fairly sterile and understated. The only branding on the pen appears as an almost indistinct periodic table “Ti” etched into its deep pocket clip. On the other end of the pen are its sturdy titanium threads for twist cap posting and its optional conductive stylus tip. While these external features are great, much of the Post Raw’s appeal comes from within. It can accommodate almost any refill you can throw at it (35+ refills!) to really configure the pen to your personal needs and preferences.
Untwisting the cap via its surprisingly smooth, grit-free titanium threads unveils the business end of the pen, which comes pre-loaded with a Uni Signo 207 refill right out of the box. The surrounding grip area is markedly narrower than the rest of the body, with only three minimal “rings” etched into the barrel to serve as a grip. Initially, I was concerned that this “grip” wouldn’t suffice, especially given how smooth and how heavy the body can be. Fortunately, I discovered just how well-balanced the pen really is, which comes as a surprise considering its noticeable overall length when posted. By letting the pen rest most of its heft between the base of my thumb and index finger, I needed much less of a grip on the writing end of the barrel and was able to let the pen do most of the work. Writing becomes easy and comfortable, even with just the included refill. If your refill of choice is supported and you figure out how to balance the pen, you’re in for a smooth writing experience. I didn’t test the pen’s writing performance without the cap posted because in practice, it would be easier to lose the cap that way, but a cursory run indicates it balances similarly. Its stylus end works and feels sturdy, without much of that hollow balloon feeling when gliding across a tablet surface I find in other styluses. If a stylus isn’t a necessary part of your EDC, it can be easily unscrewed and replaced with a flat endcap to cut down on its length a bit.
At just over 5.3” including the stylus when capped, the Post Raw takes up as much pocket space as the average click pen, if not a tiny bit more. It isn’t the most compact pen, but it still carries great thanks to its deep, sturdy titanium pocket clip. Furthermore, each pen comes packaged with a high quality felt pen sleeve if you’d rather pocket it loose, throw it in a bag, or just want extra scratch protection from the rest of your gear. It seems like these guys get the big idea behind everyday carry given all the thought they put into the pen’s carry options.
Reviewer Score: 4.0 of 5
Clean titanium construction
Very deep pocket clip
Versatile refill compatibility
Cons:Loose, threaded cap not ideal for EDC — makes quick jotting inconvenient
When cap is posted, pen is slightly long, slightly long overall
“Grip” portion of barrel could be more aggressive
For the casual writer whose ideas come frequently and without notice, the Ti-POST RAW might be too slow to get set up in time to jot them down. Its postable twist cap, heft and balance, and refill compatibility seem to encourage longer writing sessions and cater best to pen enthusiasts. With that said, the pen has many strengths that warrant a spot in an EDC, and could, with time, convert the quick jotter into a more serious writer. It’s something to be used and envied at the office, but designed well enough to be carried along to wherever inspiration strikes.
Last September, Machine Era Co. invited early adopters on Kickstarter to rethink their everyday carry with the introduction of their fully machined, aluminum slim wallet. The campaign was met with tremendous support, raising nearly $250,000 from over 5600 backers. In this review, I attempt to rethink my everyday carry as well and share my thoughts on this wildly successful wallet, courtesy of Machine Era Co.
The Machine Era Wallet takes an industrial approach to a modern, minimal wallet through its design and choice of materials. Its understated design, essentially an assembly of a metal plate and a thick elastic band, immediately appears somehow striking yet barebones. The Machine Era Wallet forgoes conventional design cues in favor of rugged functionality, constructed from a high grade 6061 aluminum. The flat black anodized finish not only adds to its aesthetic, but also offers improved corrosion resistance and a comfortable, grippy texture to the surface. I found that with normal use the finish comes off, especially in areas of high wear such as the corners and the top edge that grazes against the pocket the most. It also tends to show scratches and smudges easily, but it appears more like a nice patina than a poor anodization job. The machining overall is excellent, with enough curves and chamfer to the plate that its lines look nice and clean but still handle comfortably.
The aluminum plate has two notches on its sides machined out to fit a thick elastic band, which holds 2-6 cards and tri-folded cash snug to the wallet’s interior. Cash or cards can also be held onto the back of the plate as well, for even easier access. A minimal wallet like this lacks any other organization, so storing cards is a matter of stacking them behind each other. When retrieving cards, I’ve found the most convenient method is to slide cards up and fan them out that way rather than digging through them from the top. Some might find this inconvenient when retrieving the last card in the wallet, but organizing the cards by most frequently used towards the front should minimize hassle. I must be one of the few people still using cash these days, as many modern slim wallets on the market don’t really address what to do with loose bills. This wallet accommodates tri-folded cash, which works decently for the odd note here and there. But folding cash in thirds really adds up thickness quick, and storing them on the outside of the wallet or on top of your cards makes the wad easier to push or slide out. I noticed this happening a lot when I’d try to stuff the wallet into my front pocket with a bunch of singles folded up. It’s a problem that I don’t think would happen to most users, but it happened in my experience. I also appreciated that I could use my bus pass without removing it from the wallet since the elastic band leaves most of the card exposed. Others might consider this a privacy or security risk, however. Overall, storing and retrieving cards is quick and painless. With cash, the wallet operates best with just a few bills.
With the average user’s amount of cash and cards, the wallet slides into the pocket really nicely. It’s slim, sturdy, and lightweight at just 1.3 oz due to its aluminum body, which also happens to handle moisture well. A potential drawback is comfort — while I found it slim enough to be comfortable, others might not appreciate a rigid metal block rubbing against their thigh. Similarly, I wouldn’t recommend back pocket carrying a wallet like this (or sitting on anything in your pockets in general) for comfort reasons.
Reviewer Score: 4.0 out of 5
Cons:Limited performance for cash carriers Finish wears and shows imperfections easily
Machine Era Co.’s years of tweaking this design ultimately resulted in this solid, simple, but very efficient wallet. It might not look like much, but that’s part of its appeal — it capably handles your cards and cash in ways you think it couldn’t upon first glance. In that regard, I did rethink my everyday carry, and quickly saw its success on Kickstarter was no fluke. Admittedly, it doesn’t handle cash as effectively as I’d like. But for true minimalists who don’t deal much with loose bills, I’d confidently recommend the Machine Era Wallet in a heartbeat.
Fenix E12, PD12, & E35UE Mini Review Roundup & Giveaway
Fenix has built a reputation in the EDC community as one of the leading flashlight manufacturers, using high quality materials and solid designs. In this mini-review roundup we take a quick look at some of Fenix’s newest offerings, the E12, the PD12, and the E35 Ultimate Edition, graciously provided by Fenix Outfitters.
My immediate impression of the E12 is that it’s nothing flashy — it brings a simple, unassuming sensibility to the table. It’s styled very traditionally, with the usual black knurled aluminum body that you’d expect from Fenix and other practical flashlight brands. It’s decently compact for a 1xAA light as its head, battery tube and tailcap are all flush with each other. Unfortunately, the E12 does not come fitted with a pocket clip of any sort, limiting carry options to a keychain (which, I feel is just barely acceptable at its size) or deep pocket carry using an included wrist lanyard. Both a keyring and lanyard can attach to the tailcap, which also houses a reverse clicky switch. The switch is protected by a scooped “bezel” to allow tailstanding and easier access to the switch. At the business end of the light, there’s some interesting optics going on around its XP-E2 emitter. Turning the light on starts on its 8 lumen low mode, and soft presses of the tailcap cycle through its 50 lumen medium and 130 lumen high mode. On low, 8 lumens is plenty for walking around at night or scanning dark spaces, and personally I feel it’s more than enough. A 50 lumen medium is great for covering a larger area. Most impressive, however, is its 130 lumen high — it’s great to have that power when you need it in a compact light, and it’s this capability that Fenix tends to highlight, with good reason. You’d likely find yourself using low and medium modes in everyday situations, but I wish a moonlight or lower low were offered to help space out the levels better. The E12 produces a surprisingly wide, white hotspot, with relatively little usable spill in a bluish tint. It might not appeal to the most discerning flashaholics, but it makes its case as an simple, easy-to-use, reliable primary or backup light. I can see this doing well in a mini EDC pouch kit or a beginner’s carry as an intro to higher quality lights.
Reviewer Score: 2.5/5
Pushes the envelope with an impressive 130lm high
Cons:Lack of pocket clip and sized slightly too large for keychain, making it hard to EDC
Mediocre beam pattern and tint
Wide hotspot makes low mode appear brighter than it should
The E12, to me, seems average in many ways. Its $30 pricetag is a good indicator of what to expect — it’s a step up from keychain lights in build quality and output, but doesn’t stand up to $60+ EDC lights. Its strength lies in its reliable construction and simple operation at an affordable pricepoint.
Good output/size ratio
The PD12 falls into the “primary EDC” flashlight category, with its compact size, decent set of features and other design cues that reinforce its role as a general utility light. For a CR123a light, it’s not the most compact, but still highly pocketable. This is mostly due to its wider head design: it allows for a deeper reflector around its CREE XM-L2 T6 neutral white LED emitter, some adequate heatsinking at the base of the head, and a less commonly seen electronic side switch. The other half of the light is less interesting — just a knurled battery tube with a scooped rear bezel to allow for tailstanding and a wrist lanyard attachment. The build quality, fit and finish, is superb as always from Fenix. Unfortunately, the PD12 also lacks a pocket clip — which I feel is necessary on a light this small meant to be used for everyday carry. A quick press of the electronic side switch turns the light on instantly. More interestingly, the light has “mode memory,” meaning it turns on at the last output level used. Modes through which it can cycle include a 10 lumen low, 80 lumen mid, 200 lumen high, and long-holding the switch accesses a 360 lumen burst mode. The memory feature is nice, but for general usage I often find myself using mainly the dimmest mode, which usually fires first. I can see value in memory for those who use their flashlights in emergency only situations and want the brightest light possible, or often work with the brighter modes. For a light like this, where the side switch encourages an “underhand” grip and discourages a traditionally tactical “ice pick grip,” memory for instant-on high might not be as useful. To turn the light off, a longer press is required. I have some issues with the switch and UI in my testing, though. Physically, the side switch lies very flush to the flashlight body to prevent accidental activation in the pocket. I found that this made locating the switch with my fingers in the dark to turn the switch on more difficult than it needs to be. A glow in the dark button or some texturing on it might have helped with tactile feedback in the dark. Secondly, accessing burst mode through a very long hold causes the light to turn off completely first (a long hold turns the light off), then holding for a moment longer unleashes a whopping 360 lumens. Because there’s no head-twisting involved, it’s sort of a necessary evil, but it is a bit jarring to reach burst after complete darkness in that brief pause between modes. Luckily, the PD12 delivers a beautiful beam pattern in a pleasant neutral tint. Its hotspot is tight and clear with plenty of usable surrounding spill, allowing it to perform well in general up close and short distance applications, but its deep reflector and high output levels really give it some distance as well.
Review Score: 3/5
High quality construction
Great beam tint and pattern
Cons:No pocket clip
Side switch difficult to locate
The PD12 is a solid light, but it’s not the only neutral white 1x123 light, it isn’t the most pocketable, and the operation isn’t for everyone. Because of some key oversights like the lack of a pocket clip and the missteps associated with the electronic side switch and its resulting UI, I give it a 3/5. I would recommend it to someone interested in buying one as it is a good light — it’s just that there are others that outclass it in certain aspects.
Fenix build quality
Fenix E35 Ultimate Edition
Last up for review is the fittingly Ultimate Edition of the E35. It’s the largest of the group, accommodating a 1x18650 battery or 2xCR123a configuration. With the added length from using these battery types comes plenty of power and longer runtimes than the previously mentioned lights. As expected from a Fenix light, it’s built very well and looks great. While the E35UE lacks a pocket clip as well, it isn’t too much of an issue considering its size alone precludes it from comfortable pocket carry. The light also utilizes the electronic side switch, but unlike the PD12, is much easier to locate due to the rubber texturing on the button. The side switch again encourages an underhand grip, which is great for exploration and general path illumination. A short hold (it feels longer, though) of the button fires up the E35UE’s CREE XM-L2 U2 emitter in whichever mode was used last through a memory function. The light can cycle through a 10 lumen low (lasting 140 hours), an 80 lumen mid, and a 200 lumen high. Holding down the switch longer turns the light off, and longer still accesses a monstrous 900 lumen burst mode. That’s some serious power coming from this light, which can really help in outdoors applications. The beam itself is interesting — a cool white, huge hotspot helps illuminate larger areas. Its spill is comparatively less useful, as it exhibits a dark ring right around the hotspot, which brightens back up towards the edge of the beam. In application, I found the hotspot is big enough so that the usable spill doesn’t matter as much. The wide hotspot of a beam and the 140-hour long runtime on low make a winning combination for a long-lasting emergency light, especially backed by Fenix build quality.
Reviewer Score: 3.5/5
Impressively high output on burst, great runtimes on low
Useful, wide hotspot
Balanced ergonomics on underhand grip with longer battery tube
Cons:Hold switch activates too slowly
Can’t ramp up into burst mode, requires light to turn off and back on again — can be disorienting in the dark
Dark ring in spill
The E35UE can really satisfy those looking for power, but brighter isn’t necessarily better. What I appreciate in the E35UE is its great runtimes, usable low mode paired with its big hotspot. The lack of a pocketclip isn’t really a dealbreaker, as I see this right at home in a bag, glove compartment, or tool chest. Not everyone thinks to keep a larger light in their rotation, but a light this capable for only $45 is well worth the versatility it provides.
You can enter our giveaway to win one of the lights reviewed today at our widget below. The contest will last for one week. Good luck and carry on!
While most of us try to get by with just our EDC pocket knives, there are a few common tasks that a knife just isn’t cut out to do. OBSTRUCTURES designed their PRY/OPEN pocket tool to take the brunt of wear and tear on a knife from prying, scraping, poking and turning. Read more for my review of these “knife saviors” courtesy of OBSTRUCTURES.
The PRY/OPEN line comes in two sizes: small and large (which this review will focus on), made of beadblasted stainless steel, and a limited edition titanium version of the large tool. The large stainless steel version is significantly more substantial feeling, weighing 48g at 3/16” thick compared to its slimmer titanium counterpart, which weighs next to nothing — barely under 16g at 1/8” thick. Both have a 3-3/4” length, putting them a bit outside ideal keychain tool length. The small tool, on the other hand, is more compact at 1/8” thick and 3” long, weighing in at 19g. All three tools share an industrial, geometric aesthetic in their design. They look great, but their well-executed and nicely machined straight lines and hard edges cause slight discomfort when gripping the tools.
On one end of the large PRY/OPEN, you’d find the first half of the tool’s namesake functions in a prybar with tips that double as screwdrivers. On the other side is a bottle opener and a long flathead driver/prying edge. A pocket clip runs along the back of the tool. Above the clip is a hole for a split ring, and in the body of the tool, a long slit that serves as an attachment point for an included cable ring. Ridges adorn the outer edges of the tool to bring together that rugged geometric look and provide a grippier texture in hand. The smaller tool lacks the split in its prying end and the long boxcutter/driver hybrid in favor of a smaller flathead driver. The PRY/OPEN doesn’t have wrenches for an oxygen tank, it doesn’t have O-rings to hold double-sided bits, or a sharp edge in a kydex sheath. For me, and likely for many other users, the large tool brings a sensible selection of functions for daily utility: opening boxes, opening bottles, driving screws, carrying keys, and occasional prying, scraping or prodding — without having to use and ruin your knife.
My favorite feature on the tool has to be the large, flat pry end. While it isn’t actually a sharpened edge, it’s able to rip through packaging tape when opening boxes, sparing your knife’s edge unnecessary damage and sticky residue. It also works well on larger flathead screws that are normally turned with a thumbnail or coin. The split pry end mostly saw use for its screwdriving function, which works decently, and not much for prying (it just isn’t a commonly needed function for me). While I can’t personally attest to it, OBSTRUCTURES demonstrates its prying ability on a paint can and a large nail, as well as the tool’s other functions in a short video. The bottle opener does its job well, especially on the large tool — the added thickness of the tool gives more of a grip when lifting caps compared to its thinner counterparts. However, the ridged gripping on the sides of the tool do tend to cause some discomfort when applying a lot of pressure to lift the cap.
In addition to the fairly standard complement of tools in most one-piece multitools, the PRY/OPEN also functions as a suspension clip for a keyring using the provided aircraft cable ring. Personally, it’s not my favorite hardware for keys, but it works well enough in this application. With the cable looped through the body of the tool, a set of keys can suspend in the pocket using the tool’s pocket clip, just like a larger suspension clip, but with one caveat — the length of the tool sometimes prevents actual suspension (e.g., clipping the large tool really low on slanted slacks pockets). The extra long slit for the ring allows keys to be conveniently pushed out of the way when either side is in use, while also acting to skeletonize the tool and bring its overall weight down. Alternatively, keys can be attached on a split ring through a hole above the pocket clip, but I found it to be an awkward place for keys to hang, especially when trying to use the boxcutter/bottle opener end of the tool. I found that for carrying keys, these work best in their intended role as suspension clips, rather than hooks on a belt loop — there’s zero curvature and too wide of a clearance to be secure on a loop.
Like the OBSTRUCTURES wallets, the PRY/OPEN tools can be used and carried in a number of ways and it might take some trial-and-error to find which method best fits your carry. They can be clipped to a bag strap, attached to keys, hanging from a pocket, and so on. However, of the many ways the PRY/OPEN could fit into my carry, I found it best carried like it were a pocket knife — clipped on my front pocket without any keys attached so I could access it quickly and use it unobstructed.
Reviewer Score: ★★★★☆
Strong general complement to an EDC with its well-chosen, versatile feature set
Solid construction and machining
A wholly capable, TSA-compliant and non-threatening tool to use instead of a knife for certain tasks
Cons:Straight edges and geometric design cues limit comfort
Large steel version fairly heavy
Suspension clip performance limited by length of tool and compatible hardware
Before going into this review, I really was not a believer of one-piece multitools. In my day to day, I didn’t need multiple wrench sizes, a bit driver, or a prybar, which seemed to be requisite features in more popular one-piece tools on the market. With its well-selected functions, the PRY/OPEN changed my mind about one-piece tools, so much so that it’s now a staple in my EDC. I prefer the titanium version for its smaller footprint and impressive weight, which you can purchase at the link below.
BUY PRY/OPEN S,L,Ti ($32/38/55)