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humangear capCAP+

Ten year ago I discussed the humangear capCAP. My conclusion was: the capitalization of the brand and product name is stupid, the cap itself is a good upgrade to any wide mouth (63mm) bottle, but it will allow a few drops to leak out of a wide mouth Klean Kanteen.

Recently I was made aware of a new model: the humangear capCAP+. This one adds silicone gaskets to both parts of the lid, and boasts compatibility with a wider range of bottles. However, humangear explicitly states that this one remains incompatible with the wide mouth Klean Kanteen.

I like to live dangerously, so I bought the new model anyway. For a couple weeks now I’ve been using it on the same Klean Kanteen Wide 27oz bottle used in the previous review. Despite humangear’s warning, I have had nary a drop leak out from the cap. I have tried to make the lid leak by filling the bottle and storing it on its side, and by balancing the bottle upside down on the cap, but no water has escaped.

humangear capCap+

Other changes in the new model include redesigned grip cutouts, which I find to have made no practical change to the functionality of the cap, and a cap retention thing that I thought would be kind of a gimmick but is actually surprisingly useful. (I will point out that the full name of this feature is the “humangear capCAP+ CapKeeper”. Someone at this brand hates English.)

humangear capCap+

The new model weighs 56 grams (2 oz), which is 20 grams (0.7 oz) more than the original capCAP.

I’m happy with the capCAP+. If you have the original capCAP, and it doesn’t leak on your bottle of choice, it probably is not worth upgrading. If it does leak, consider trying the new one. If you have neither model, but you use a wide mouth bottle and rely on something like the Guyot Designs Splashguard, the capCAP+ may improve your life.

The Toothbrush and Its Maintenance

I like RADIUS toothbrushes. I use the Source at home and the Tour elsewhere. Both utilize the same replaceable brush head. Anytime you’re dealing with tools that have replaceable, consumable parts – whether those parts are batteries, magazines, or toothbrush heads – the compatibility of those parts across the different tools is critical to user sanity. Replaceable toothbrush heads are convenient in that they decrease waste and allow you to stock up on multiple years worth of tooth cleaning supplies in a smaller space than would be required by the same number of toothbrushes.

I find the RADIUS heads to be effective at cleaning, and my dentist seems to approve of the results. I use both the “soft” and “flossing” heads, with no real preference between them. My experience is that bristles of both last an unusually long period of time when compared to other toothbrushes. To fully take advantage of the potential service live, the bristles must be periodically cleaned. I do this by soaking the head in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes, which has been proven effective by multiple studies. I do this every other week or so.

I have a few travel toothbrush cases similar to these left over from before I found RADIUS (the Source handle is too chunky to fit in these). Each case consists of two parts. One half has a small hole for ventilation. The other half has no hole. I fill this hole-free half with 1/2 oz of hydrogen peroxide, shove the toothbrush in head first (the fat part of the Source handle that doesn’t fit in the case sits above this half, so it isn’t a problem), and then place it in a mason jar to hold it upright on my counter. Of the random assortment of containers around my home, this half of a travel toothbrush case is what I found allowed me to completely soak the head using the least amount of hydrogen peroxide.

After soaking, the Source toothbrush is stored in a covered holder on my wall, which allows it to air dry while keeping it protected from assault by airborne turd particles.

The Source handle can be sterilized in my kitchen autoclave, but the replaceable heads and the body of the Tour become deformed if exposed to these high pressures. I usually just wash the Source handle by hand with my normal dish soap when I think of it. Mold can grow in the socket of the handle that the head is shoved into, so this does need occasional cleaning. I clean the body of the Tour the same way when I return home from a trip.

The Tour toothbrush (complete with head) tips my scale at 20 grams (0.7 oz). It is neither the lightest nor the most compact travel option, but the convenience of the form factor combined with having the functionality of a full-sized toothbrush when deployed and the commonality of the replaceable head with my home solution makes me uninterested in lighter and smaller options that invariably sacrifice convenience.

I’ve found that when purchasing 16 oz or 32 oz bottles of hydrogen peroxide the necks always have 28-400 threading, regardless of brand. This allows me to replace the lid with one of the sprayers I use for my all-purpose cleaner, turning the hydrogen peroxide bottle into a convenient tool for disinfecting things like counter tops and my toilet cleaning brush.

The Casio Pro Trek PRW-3000-1A

I’ve worn the Casio Pro Trek PRW-3000-1A for the past 1,746 consecutive days. This is probably the longest I’ve worn any watch that doesn’t say “G-Shock” on it.

Obligatory Stereotypical Watch Shot

The Pro Trek performs all the basic watch functions you’d expect: it tells time, it provides the current date and day of week, it has a stopwatch, and it has a countdown timer. It supports a second timezone, which I usually keep set to UTC for quick reference but is useful if I’m briefly passing through a different region. It provides sunrise and sunset times for current, past and future dates. These are not exact, but tend to be within 20 minutes of reality, which is close enough for planning purposes. It has four alarms, which I never use.

Beyond those basic functions, the PRW-3000-1A has two characteristics that differentiate it from other timepieces. First, it is both solar and atomic: the battery never needs to be changed, and the time is always accurate. (Eventually, I’m sure, the battery will no longer charge itself, but that doesn’t seem to be imminent.)

The second characteristic is that it is an ABC watch, which means it provides an altimeter, barometer, and compass. Of these three features, the compass is the most useful. It works great for identifying the cardinal directions when you get turned around. It can also store bearings in memory, but using something other than a real compass for actual navigation strikes me as silly. The watch can be configured with declination, but I always leave this off so that the compass points to magnetic north. I apply this strategy to all compasses and GPS receivers, ensuring that they always agree.

The barometer is neat, but not especially useful. I have not found the current atmospheric pressure to be advantageous information. The watch can be told to monitor the barometric pressure over a period, and then alert the user if it sees a rise or fall in pressure, which would indicate a change in weather (very roughly: a rising barometer is good, falling is bad). This is more useful than knowing only the current value, but it only works when altitude remains constant.

The barometer screen also displays a thermometer, but because the watch is worn next to skin I find that this reading is not an accurate representation of ambient air temperature.

The altimeter mode is more useful. The reading is based on barometric pressure. The watch can either convert the barometer readings to altitude based on its stored values from the International Civil Aviation Organization’s International Standard Atmosphere, or it can calculate altitude based on a provided reference value. With the latter option, you tell the watch the current altitude (based on a map reading, survey marker, etc) and the watch then uses changes in pressure to calculate the difference as you ascend or descend. This is how I use the altimeter, and I find the results accurate enough for my purposes (which tend to be “rough navigation”).

The watch features a trip recording mode, where it will periodically record altitude readings and then report back with your maximum altitude, minimum altitude, total ascent, and total descent. I’ve never used this.

I’ve been using the same nylon band that I hacked together 4 years ago. It works great. I repaired it once with my expedition sewing kit.

The watch remains in excellent condition. The bezel is scratched, but that has no practical impact on its function. The face itself has managed to resist all scratching.

The buttons are more exposed than a G-Shock, and they will sometimes activate themselves if I’m doing something like pulling my wrist through a tight cuff. These accidental discharges happen rarely and are only a minor annoyance, but I do wish the Pro Trek was available with the thicker bumper of the G-Shock. (Casio does offer ABC G-Shocks, such as the Rangeman GW9400-1B. I’ve not looked closely at these, but they are probably worthy of consideration.)

Kikuo Ibe’s original G-Shock DW-5000 is the watch against which every other timepiece should be judged. Today I would appreciate the addition of solar atomic functionality, which is available in derivatives such as the G-Shock GWM5610. I purchased the PRW-3000-1A in 2015 for $200, which is a little over twice the common sale price of the G-Shock. I think this has been worth it for the added functionality. Unfortunately the PRW-3000-1A is no longer available. The current equivalent of it seems to be the PRW-3100Y-1. Casio’s list price for this model is $320, which is more than I think the watch is worth. If my watch was lost, I would happily purchase the newer model (or an ABC G-Shock) for $200. If they wanted more than that, I’d likely revert to the solar atomic G-Shock GWM5610 for $80-$100.

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A Better Clipboard

One of the things I learned over the years at 2 Meter Critical Mass and other radio events is the value of a good clipboard. The Field Message Pad or Field Memo Pad or even the Field Notebook are great for my own notes, but when responding with a radio on behalf of an agency, said agency will probably have official log and message forms, and those forms will probably be on 8.5” x 11” paper. A clipboard is an important tool for making those forms usable in the field.

Many people end up with a Gibson approved Saunders Storage Clipboard. They’re nice, but too bulky for my tastes. I use a WhiteCoat Clipboard.

These clipboards are hinged, allowing them to fold in half. They are intended to be folded so that they fit in the pocket of a lab coat and protect patient information from shoulder surfing. But when folded they also fit well into a decent sized cargo pocket, or larger jacket pockets. Folding the clipboard also provides some protection to the paper itself. Even if you’re just putting it in a pack, it’s nice to be able to fold the board and not worry about the paper becoming wrinkled.

The WhiteCoat Clipboard is available with different quick reference medical stickers. None of these are extremely useful to me. I went with the EMT Edition because it has a scale for estimating pupil size, which is something I have struggled with in the past. I’ve considered printing my own stickers to put on the board – perhaps with some kind of radio reference material – but I haven’t decided what information would be useful to include.

A simple rubber band is available to secure the bottom edge of the paper. This is critical to one’s sanity in windy conditions. A pen clip to keep your Fisher Space Pen M4B close to hand completes the package.

The system is overpriced, but I am very happy with its functionality.

The Field Memo Pad

While I still believe in the supremacy of the 4” x 6” Field Message Pad, there are times when something smaller is wanted. Perhaps you need something more pocketable, or you have little room in your bag, and you only need small sheets for incidental notes. For these situations I use the Field Memo Pad.

Field Memo Pad

The Field Memo Pad is built around the Mil-Spec Monkey Notebook Cover Plus. This holds 3” x 5” top-bound spiral notebooks, such as the Rite in the Rain 935T. These notebooks are large enough for incidental note taking, and slide easily into a pocket. “Slide” is perhaps not the correct word when the notebook cover is added. The cover is made of Hypalon, which is quite tacky. However this is a feature, not a bug. When you are seated or kneeling and using your leg as a writing surface, the tackiness prevents the pad from slipping around, which is actually quite useful.

Field Message Pad vs. Field Memo Pad

Field Message Pad vs. Field Memo Pad

The rear flap of the notebook slides into a pocket on the front of the cover. An identical pocket sits on the other side of the cover. I use this rear pocket to hold a few business cards and a universal device reset tool (it’s also a great place for your Bogota Pi picks). An elastic band across the bottom of the cover marks your current page, making it easy to flip to wherever you left off when opening the notebook. Two elastic bands on either side hold writing instruments. I most often use these to keep a Fisher Space Pen 400B Bullet with clip and a black Sharpie Mini, though full-sized writing tools will also fit. The spiral binding of the notebook sits above the top of the cover, allowing the notebook to be opened and folded over completely.

Field Memo Pad

The Field Memo Pad provides everything needed for an all-weather analog data dump, in a pocket friendly format.

The Pragmatic Bed

Five years ago I purchased the PragmaBed Simple Adjust Head & Foot bed frame. It has proved to be an excellent purchase. I can’t think of any way to improve it.

When I went to college, I spent the first year in the dorms. The bed frames provided by the university were Twin XL, so I showed up with a Twin XL mattress and bed sheets. In the subsequent years, I’ve replaced that mattress and all the sheets. But never all at once, which means I’ve just continued to buy Twin XL sized things. That was still the case when I bought the PragmaBed frame. I would be just as happy with a Twin sized bed. I’ve never been convinced of a need for something wider, but one of the things that attracted me to the PragmaBed was that, if my mind was ever changed, I could simply buy a second frame and attach it to my existing one with the attachment brackets offered by PragmaBed. Instant wide bed frame.

The legs of the PragmaBed collapse and the body folds in half, making the frame easily movable by a single individual. This is a thing I value, despite moving my bed infrequently. The frame is made of steel, with a powder coating that is reminiscent of a truck bed lining. It is a durable package that I expect to last for many years to come.

PragmaBed offers brackets that allow you to attach a normal head- or foot-board to the frame. I’ve never been sure what functionality a head- or foot-board is supposed to provide, so I don’t have these brackets. My previous bed frame also did not have a head- or foot-board, and somehow I always managed to sleep in it without falling out.

The head of the bed has a ratcheting mechanism that allows it to be raised, like a hospitable bed. This is great for lounging – I’ve never felt that the functionality offered by a couch justified the real estate required by a couch, but now my bed is a couch – or when injured. The foot of the bed can also be raised, though not as high as the head. I’ve never actually raised the foot. I imagine it is useful if you’re trying to reduce swelling in your lower legs or feet.

PragmaBed and Storage

The legs raise the platform 13” off the ground. I keep four 40-quart Iris Store and Slide boxes underneath it. One holds my spare pillow and linens, one holds spare towels, one holds all of my pants, and the last holds specialized out-of-season items and a few miscellaneous items like hats.

I’ve used these same containers for eight years now. They fulfill their purpose admirably, and are the right size for my use. I’m not tempted to buy another spare set of sheets, because my spare sheets box is full. If I want to buy a new pair of pants, I first have to get rid of a pair of pants so that I have room in my pants box.

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Titanium Teaware

I keep a Snow Peak H450 Mug at work. This is double-walled titanium and as such is expensive and entirely unnecessary. But it is a luxury I enjoy, and I expect that (like most Snow Peak titanium products) it will last approximately until the heat death of the universe. As the name implies, it has a capacity of 450mL. It has an outer diameter of 86mm and a height of 97mm. This is the mug I use for my daily oatmeal and miso.

Tea is brewed in the mug using a FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser, which fits perfectly in the H450. It is easy to clean, allows the tea to breathe, and lives up to its name as being something that ought to last for life.

Snow Peak H450 and FORLIFE Infuser

The Snow Peak MGC-053 Lid fits on the H450 mug and provides a cafe style lid. A better option is the old, discontinued Klean Kanteen Pint Lid. Klean Kanteen made this for their pint cup, but it fits perfectly on the H450. It gives you a cafe style lid, and has a rubber piece that rotates into place to cover the hole that you sip out of. There’s also a sealed hole for a straw, though I’ve never used this (maybe you could use it for your bombilla if you were into such things). I would prefer the lid to be deeper, like the MGC-053, so that liquid that does splash up out of the hole has a better chance of being contained within the dish of the lid and then running back into the mug. However, the rotating cover of the old Klean Kanteen lid reduces the chance of liquid escaping in the first place. Neither lid is leak proof, and I rarely use either because I’m generally not moving around while drinking tea, but the Klean Kanteen Pint Lid lives in the small pouch of tea supplies that I keep at my desk. It will get slapped on if I’m walking someplace.

Snow Peak H450 Lids

At home I keep a Keith Titanium Ti3521. Keith is a Chinese brand that previously was only available direct from the People’s Republic on AliExpress. In the past couple of years I’ve seen them start to be distributed directly stateside. The Ti3521 has a capacity of 450mL, an outer diameter of 78mm and a height of 125mm. Compared to the Snow Peak mug, it’s a little skinnier and a little taller. What makes this product unique are the lids. It has a silicone cafe style lid with a sippy hole that fits tightly over the rim of the mug. As with the lid options for the Snow Peak H450, this lid is adequate to protect from spills while walking with the mug. The Ti3521 also has a titanium lid. This can be placed directly on the mug, but it isn’t a tight fit and is mostly useless here. It is intended to be placed over the silicone lid, covering the hole you drink out of and providing further protection. The titanium lid has a small pin hole in it to allow heat to escape, so the setup isn’t waterproof – you certainly wouldn’t want to put it in a pack when it had liquid in it – but it will probably keep you from scalding yourself on a bumpy car ride.

The Ti3521 includes its own titanium infuser. The infuser inserts into the silicone lid and hangs down into the mug. The infuser is small, with a diameter of 42mm and a height of 78mm. Some teas, I find, need a bit more room to breathe. For those teas, the FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser does fit in the Ti3521. But the Keith infuser works well enough for many teas. It has a larger volume than your typical tea ball or stick infuser, so if you are happy with those you’d probably be happy with this.

Keith Ti3521 Infuser

When new, the silicone lid did impart a strong silicone taste. Since I purchased the product direct from China, I have no way of knowing if the silicone is what the USA FDA would consider “food grade”. When I first received the Ti3521, I made a number of different attempts to reduce the silicone taste from the lid – boiling water, baking soda and vinegar, lemon juice, etc. Nothing really helped, but after just using it for a few months the taste finally went away.

I use the silicone lid to hang the infuser basket, and I use the titanium lid as a dish to place the infuser on when I’m done with it. I rarely drink through the silicone lid.

In addition to its use at home, the Ti3521 is the mug I’ll usually grab when travelling. I find that its skinnier-but-taller form factor tends to be slightly easier to slide into a pack than the Snow Peak mug, and I like that all of the components are more tightly integrated than the H450 and FORLIFE infuser.

I own a few other Keith Titanium products in addition to the Ti3521. My experience with them is that they are of a perfectly acceptable quality, though not quite as nice as Snow Peak. The Ti3521 is exemplary of this. When boiling water is poured into the Snow Peak H450, the outer wall is warm but comfortable to hold. When the same water is poured into the Keith Ti3521, the outer wall is hot. Not too hot to hold, but certainly hotter than the Snow Peak mug. I don’t know if this is because the Keith titanium is thinner, or because the walls are closer together, or because the vacuum between them is imperfect.

The Snow Peak H450 is part of a three piece set of nesting mugs. The H200 is the smallest of the set. I’ll sometimes use it if I have brewed tea in a pot and I want a cup that just holds a small amount, but otherwise it is not very useful. The middle-sized H300 is more interesting. It holds a full cup of tea and is a nice size to drink out of. It also just so happens that the 23.7 oz Smartwater bottle that I like to use as part of my backcountry hydration setup with the Sawyer Squeeze fits perfectly inside the H300 mug. By perfectly I mean that if the mug were a millimeter narrower the bottle would not fit. So if I want the luxury of backcountry tea brewed in something other than my cook pot, my setup is the Smartwater bottle, inside the H300 mug, inside the Hill People Gear 3” Bottle Holster.

For brewing, the lower portion of the FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser does fit in the H300. But this is far too bulky for me to ever want to pack into the backcountry. A tea ball works, but those are always cheaply made with soft walls that flatten and small hinges that break. They don’t survive long in a pack. A stick infuser is too tall. I’ve successfully used a Tuffy Steeper with the H300 (an idea from Backpacking Light). When collapsed this is small and easily packable. When fully expanded it is roughly the size of the FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Tea Infuser, though it tapers toward the bottom. However, it can be used when only partially expanded, which allows it to fit better into the H300. As with the silicone lid on the Keith Ti3521, the Tuffy Steeper imparted a strong silicone taste when I first bought it. Over time this has diminished, but I still sometimes notice it. Another option is the House Again Tea Ball Infuser. This is a bit larger than the typical tea ball, and much more robust. It fits in the H300 and packs well separately. Usually this is the option I’ll choose.

If I want to brew a pot of tea, I use the Fire Maple Titanium 1L Kettle – another AliExpress purchase. There is absolutely nothing special about this pot, except that it is titanium, and thus cool. It is single-walled, so it can be used on a stove or over a fire. I bought it after breaking a glass teapot and vowing Never Again. It also features some neat knot work on the handle, which I assume was tied by the deft hands of small children who sleep on the cold concrete underneath their workstations, piss in buckets, etc.

Fire Maple Kettle

The Fire Maple kettle does have an extremely coarse strainer in the spout. If you’re brewing some sort of blossoming tea, it may work, but it isn’t great for the teas I typically enjoy. Instead I use the FORLIFE Capsule Infuser, which is a great big infuser that is meant to be used in a large pitcher. It is a good size for a 1L pot, and the lid will still fit on the teapot while the strainer is inside.

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Sonic Defenders

I carry earplugs everyday. Other people have written about the regular carry of earplugs – usually to aid sleep in foreign environments – but I tend to disagree with the products they choose. Craig Mod recommends the Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs. Tynan recommends the Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs. I recommend the SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders. Each of these are exemplary of a different style of earplug with different intended applications.

The Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are different from many other earplugs. Rather than being inserted into the ear canal, they seal the conchal bowl. This makes them very comfortable, as there is no internal pressure in the ear, but also makes them less effective at blocking noise. They have a claimed noise reduction rating of 22 decibels. (When dealing with moldable plugs I assume this number applies when you install them perfectly, and that in common usage they’re probably slightly less effective.) I find this style of plug somewhat finicky to install and retain. If you find you cannot stand the feeling of having something in your ear canal, they are probably a good option. For everyone else, you can do better. I will sometimes use these plugs in the axolotl tanks (because water with such a high concentration of salt can be uncomfortable in the ear). In that scenario, I just want to seal my ears from water, but I don’t really care about the noise reduction. These earplugs work well there. If I regularly patronized a public pool I would use them there (because public pool water scares me). The earplugs are intended to be single use. You can reuse them, but the tackiness of the material means it picks up more dirt and is more difficult to clean than other single use earplugs. I haven’t bothered to reuse them.

The Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs are a good option for side sleeping. They have a claimed noise reduction rating of 32 decibels. As with the silicone plugs, I assume they probably perform slightly worse than this in common practice due to imperfect installation. When properly installed these earplugs do block a surprising amount of noise, and they remain comfortable. They stick out of my ears somewhat, but because they’re just foam, any extra pressure placed on the outer end doesn’t translate to uncomfortable pressure in my ear canal. While intended to be single use, you can get a few nights of use out of a single pair. Sometimes I’ve woken up to find that one has fallen out, but I figure they’ve still done they’re job as long as I’m waking up naturally and not because of a disruptive noise.

For music events I have the Etymotic ER20XS Earplugs. They have a claimed noise reduction rating of only 20 decibels, but I feel that they do a good job of reducing sounds to safe levels without distorting the quality of the music. They are not appropriate for times when I want to eliminate as much outside noise as possible, which means they are not useful enough to carry everyday. I’ll often forget to grab them when heading out the door to a show. Or I’ll go to an unplanned show straight from some other location and not have the opportunity to pick up the Etymotics from home. (Prior to these I used EarDial Earplugs in this application. I find them both to perform pretty much the same.)

The SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders have a claimed noise reduction rating of 24 decibels. I do not question this rating. Unlike with the moldable foam or silicone plugs, there’s really no way to improperly install the EP3.

SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders

I first got the idea of carrying the EP3 earplugs everyday a few years ago from a local FBI agent. He keeps them in his bag for unplanned gunfights. The unplanned discharging of firearms is pretty low on my priority list, and if I’m planning on discharging firearms or being in an environment where others are discharging firearms around me, my first choice for ear protection will be my Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs with Noiseighter pads. But it got me thinking: if I was already considering carrying a general purpose, disposable earplug like the Howard Leight Laser Lites (which I had previously kept in my EDC first aid kit), why not just pack the EP3s that would otherwise continue to sit in my box of miscellaneous gun stuff at home?

I don’t think they have quite the fidelity of the Etymotics for music, but they certainly reduce the noise to a safe level, while still allowing me to enjoy the music. And with the filters open I can easily tune in to conversations around me, which I think is critical in environments like nightclubs (for both enjoyment and safety).

I find them comfortable enough to sleep in. They sit fairly flush with my ears, and so while they may not be quite as forgiving as Howard Leight foam plugs for side sleeping, I’ve never woken up after rolling onto my side while wearing them.

On their packaging, SureFire does list swimming as one of the activities for which the EP3 may be used. However, I think that earplugs like the Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs that seal the entire ear, rather than just plugging the canal, make more sense if keeping out water is your primary goal. I’ve never found myself unexpectedly underwater, so I’m comfortable not planning my EDC around this eventuality.

The EP3 earplugs have retention rings, which are sized to fit your conchal bowl. (I wear a size medium, which is what SureFire recommends for most adults.) This makes it very unlikely that the EP3 plugs will fall out, which is as useful for sleeping as much as it is for more exciting activities.

SureFire claims a service life for the EP3 of “6+ months”. My last pair lasted 42 months before I replaced them. Granted, I use them infrequently, but it’s safe to say that this style of ear protection lasts significantly longer than disposable-but-reusable earplugs like the Howard Leight Laser Lite and Mack’s Pillow Soft. I store them in the protective case they come in, and wash them with warm soapy water after use.

SureFire also offers the EP4. These are identical to the EP3 except that they have a triple flange instead of a double. I’ve never used them. I think the only reason to opt for the triple flange is if you have a long ear canal. With the filter closed, the noise reduction rating is the same on both models. With the filters open, the EP3 provide a noise reduction rating of 11 decibels while the EP4 bumps it up to 12. The EP7 has foam tips for a different feel and a higher noise reduction rating.

Earplugs are one of the least frequently used items in what I consider to be my level 2 EDC. If I was seeking to reduce the number of items in my pack, they would be a candidate for elimination. But the reality is that their small size and low weight make them easy to carry in a bag, and when I do need them I am very grateful to have them – whether that is because I’m sleeping elsewhere, enjoying live music, or things are going bang. The SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders aren’t necessarily the most appropriate ear protection for every environment, but I think they work well in a wide range of applications. Their versatility, coupled with their longevity, is why I choose them over other earplugs.

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