These camping and first aid kits are some of the coolest we have seen in a while.
In these difficult times, as the nation starts to slowly get back to life in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there is still a need to be vigilant. First aid supplies and a small supply of crucial camp gear are always a good idea, even if you are just going for a short hike. Because you never know when you may be faced with an emergency.
We recently had the extremely cool VSSL Camp Supplies and First Aid Kits sent to us. These kits are useful LED lights that also happen to hold tons of small and useful gear in an emergency.
This is what we thought of these two very cool kits and how they can offer some peace of mind during your next outdoor adventure.
If you are not familiar with VSSL, they are a Canadian-based company formed Todd Weimer. According to the company website, Weimer's brainstorm came from a Maglite flashlight. He realized the handle was the perfect place to store small, but potentially life-saving outdoor gear for a variety of adventures. This is one of those incredibly simple ideas that makes you slap your head and wish you had thought of it.
In any case, we will look at the container and LED flashlight itself first. These kits are nicer than they look in the photos. The main tube of the flashlight is made of military-grade aluminum and it just feels strong and durable once you pick it up. VSSL claims the strength of the canister makes the kit indestructible. I am not so certain about that, but it will certainly be able to take a better beating that most flashlights on the market today. It is hard to find products that feel this well-made anymore.
Despite the solid feel of the body of these lights, they are incredibly light. They only weigh about 15 ounces each and are approximately two inches in diameter by nine inches long. That slim, ultra-compact size that is going to be great for backpackers. It does not use up a ton of valuable pack space. At the same time, there is the peace of mind about the contents inside (more on that later).
Of course, a flashlight is no good if it is dim. Thankfully, this light is anything but that. It is about 200 lumens, which is not the brightest light we have ever seen. It is powered by three E90 alkaline batteries. These batteries are small and it is what frees up the body for storing gear. That small size will be harder to find when it is time for replacement. However, this light is more than bright enough for most light camping and outdoor activities. The light has four modes including bright and dim. There is also a red light which will be helpful if you need to keep your night vision for something like star gazing.
The last mode, and perhaps one of the most important in an emergency, is an automatic SOS flasher. It engages all three lights for maximum visibility. That is a feature that we hope we never have to use, but we do like that it is there. One brilliant design feature of this flashlight is the fact that you have to hold the button down for about four seconds to turn it on. That means no chance of it turning on by accident in your pack and draining the battery by accident. One other thing we really like about these kits is that there is zero wasted space. Every part of the VSSLs are made with function in mind. The opposite end of the light is capped with an oil-filled precision compass for a little extra piece of mind when you are miles from the nearest road or trailhead. Why oil-filled? Well, because that means it will not freeze up in colder conditions. You will still be able to navigate in a raging blizzard if you have no other option.
VSSL Camp Supplies
This is a versatile outdoor adventure kit and the contents of the canister prove it. VSSL managed to pack a little bit of everything into eight tiny screw-top containers that keep everything organized. The firestarter kit has 10 waterproof matches and five tinder quik starters to help you stoke a fire quickly in an emergency. A small pure Canadian beeswax candle will help provide a little additional light. The nice thing about beeswax candles is that they do not produce smoke and even though it is tiny, it will last up to four hours because beeswax candles last longer.
Another canister contains a small wire saw. It will not cut down a whole tree, but I tested it to quickly prune some small branches off some smaller trees in my backyard. You could use it to quickly prepare firewood or a shelter. Another tin contains a mini first aid kit with small bandages, safety pins and antiseptic wipes. It is not a kit for a traumatic incident, but for light backpacking excursions, it is more than adequate.
One potential life saving addition is the water purification kit. VSSL includes a 10 water purifying aquatabs, a water bag, and instructions for use. This is a tiny addition, but one that could buy you valuable time in a situation where options on a truly clean water source are limited. The tablets have a shelf life of about three years. VSSL sells refills for every item in their kits, so you can refresh when you need it.
I did encounter one small problem with the fishing kit. The bobber, which also serves as the spool for the 35 feet of fishing line is packed into the canister quite snugly and took some prying to get loose. Be careful when removing it. Once I got it out, I was pleased to find four curl tail grubs in two different colors, plus an assortment of j-hooks, weights, and sinkers. They even included a spinner. You are not going to catch a new world record with this gear, but you could catch a whole mess of small trout or panfish with this gear. More than enough to fill your belly.
Some of the other gear in the VSSL survival kit includes a 12x20-inch bamboo cloth that has a plethora of uses including filtering water and treating wounds. Another tin contains a small length of marine grade rope rope and razor blade. VSSL says the rope is rated for 250 pounds. It seems really thin and light, but it would still be useful. We could see this being used to construct light shelters or hand tools in a pinch.
Another tin contains a mini sewing kit, gear ties, an emergency whistle, and a small can opener. To top things off, it also contains a small roll of adventure tape. The tape is bright orange, which means you can use it to mark trails back to your camp.
While there are plenty of images on the web showing what is in this kit, you cannot appreciate it until you see it in person. How VSSL managed to fit so many pieces of essential outdoor gear into one survival package is amazing. The camp supplies kit has earned a permanent spot in my hunting and fishing gear bags for the foreseeable future.
VSSL First Aid Compact Adventure Kit
In addition to the high quality camp supplies kit, I was also given the chance to check out the first aid essentials kit VSSL makes. This kit has the same flashlight body, light and compass as the survival kit. The difference is that this kit puts a heavier focus on first aid essentials.
Unlike the camping kit, which uses screw-top canisters, this kit utilizes a larger first aid roll to hold all the gear. It is something of a tight squeeze. You will have to roll it tightly when you put the roll back into the body of the light, but that is a minor complaint. There are some first aid components in this kit that I have not seen in others I have used in the past. There is a Celox homeostatic agent designed to stop bleeding in a hurry. There are two disposable thermometers, which could prove to be important tools in the age of coronavirus.
VSSL includes a nice assortment of common items like regular bandages, but also knuckle bandages and butterfly bandages for closing wounds in more difficult areas. They have also included some 3M Steri-strips to deal with tougher wounds. There is also a good supply of antiseptic towelettes to help sanitize cuts and bruises. Also included are some packets of antibiotic cream and two large gauze tape pads.
Just like the camp supplies kit, they also managed to squeeze a roll of medical tape in the end of the tube. They even include a pair of nitrile medical gloves to help you deal with more serious injuries. In addition to the usual bandages, VSSL also packs in safety pins, a compact whistle, and a small pair of tweezers. Helpful for digging out insect stingers or splinters.
Having bought a lot of first aid kits for my outdoor adventures over the years, one thing that separates the good kits from the average kits is the addition of painkillers. Nothing sucks more than to be out camping or fishing and suddenly have a headache or some other pain from a lot of hiking. I have found myself having to add these items to many kits. Not the VSSL. Not only have they included aspirin and ibuprofen tablets, but they have included name brands like Advil and Bayer. It is a small touch, but one that is greatly appreciated and adds to the value of this kit.
If you are looking for a kit to take backpacking, get the camp supplies kit, if you are looking for something to store in your vehicle, go with the first aid supplies kit.
The bottom line
It has been a long time since I have seen survival and first aid kits of this quality. The fact that they fit all this stuff into a four mode LED flashlight that also has a nice compass included just adds to the value.
These kits would be ideal for backpackers, fishermen, day hikers, hunters and anyone else who enjoys the outdoors. The space saving qualities of these kits alone are a game changer for packing for extended wilderness adventure. They would also be a great addition to a bug out bag or other emergency preparedness kit. You need a flashlight for any hurricane or flood kit anyway, packing it with lifesaving gear just adds to the usefulness.
Even if you are just looking for something to throw into the glove box or center console of your vehicle, this would be a nice choice. Both kits would be a great addition to any boat or RV too. The VSSL First Aid Kit and Camp Supplies kits are well worth the $125 price tags.