19 September 2018

Road Gear; The Air Armor M240

It was a dark and stormy night, the highway was empty, black and wet. The double yellow vaguely illuminated by the headlights, a ding sounded twice, the low air warning flashing on the dashboard. The right rear tire was under inflated...

It was a cold morning, the sun hadn't cleared the horizon, he could see his breath on the air as he walked to his car. "Crap" he said as he noticed the flat tire...

He saw the hazards flashing in the distance and began to slow. The car was pulled off the road onto the shoulder and a woman was standing at the rear of it with cell phone in hand. He pulled off behind her and noticed she had a flat...

He had driven the old logging road earlier that day, heading to his favorite neck of the woods. After spending the day afield with his best dog he returned to the truck only to find he had a flat tire...
After spending a day on the water and the sun sinking behind the mountains the couple pushed their boat towards the docks.

Their faces red and windblown, smiling but tired. With the boat waiting at the ramp to be loaded on the trailer they found one of the trailer tires flat...
You don't have to be a hard core off road enthusiast to appreciate the ability to air up a tire without needing roadside assistance or a gas station's air pump. Needing air in a tire is one of the most common occurrences motorists face on the road, and off.

I had been looking at various options for a vehicle based air compressor.  Some were mounted and others were not. Prices ranged from under $100 to over $600. Those over $250 were eliminated as they didn't fit my budget, and some of them which required mounting and plumbing of air lines were overkill for what I wanted. I'd come to the conclusion that I wanted a mobile air compressor, not overly large but still capable of inflating large tires.

After reading multiple reviews and recommendations for several products I finally decided to give the Air Armor M240 a go.

Here's the description provided on Amazon for the M240;

CONVENIENCE: The M240 12v air compressor powers directly from your vehicle’s battery and delivers air with a 25’ service hose. Included is a box of tire parts, tools, and accessories. All this in a tough as nails steel storage locker to have with you where ever you go.

MULTIPLE USES: You won’t be the operator caught dead on the road because you lost a part in the dirt - the M240 air pump has your back. Packed in the accessory box is an arsenal of 27 tire care and repair parts which includes a tire repair kit, 4-way tire valve tool, 2 gauges and an assortment of commonly lost or damaged tire parts like valve caps and cores.

EASY TO USE: At the core of the M240 is a 12-Volt, direct drive, high volume air compressor with a 10’power cord that clips directly to your vehicle’s battery. This 40mm powerhouse provides optimal performance in the critical tire inflation pressure range. Delivering 2.11 CFM you can inflate a full size truck tire in less than 2 minutes. Fully inflate a 35” tire from 0-35 PSI in less than 5 minutes. The system boasts an instrument panel with built-in air pressure gauge and type "M" style 1/4" air fitting to attach the unprecedented 25’ straight easy-to-coil air hose with lock-on ball foot commercial air chuck. Airing up has never been easier thanks to an extended 50% duty cycle and hose that reaches all 4 tires of even the longest wheelbase vehicles.

GREAT GIFT IDEA: The perfect gift for the rugged off road, outdoor enthusiast, Jeep owner who needs to air up and air down quickly and easily. A popular item with our Military and First Responder customers.

I purchased one on September 17th of 2017 and I've since used it countless times. A six week road trip exploring the American West in 2018, I used it every day. This was because I was airing down for a trail and then airing up again after finishing the trail. I covered over 6,000 miles on this trip, much of it off road in the back country of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming.Early on in the trip I was in Idaho on a trail that would put me in Wyoming. The road started as a rough gravel washboard road and eventually turned into a dirt and rock goat path. I aired down and like an idiot, set the M240 on my trailer's tongue box and drove off. Three miles later I realized what I'd forgot, turned the jeep around and headed back. I found the M240 scattered across the rough gravel road. It had fallen off and hit the road at probably 25mph. The ammo box was separated from the lid and the components were scattered about. I wasn't hopeful.

I reconnected the lid to the box, hooked the alligator clips to the battery terminals and hit the switch. The unit fired right up and worked just fine! The images below are post fall.
Keep in mind that I wasn't just airing up four tires for this trip, each time I aired down I did so on my overlanding trailer as well. So each time I aired up I was airing up six tires!
How Quick?

I'm running 35x12.50s, these are some large beefy tires. Typically I'm running 37psi on the street and air down to 23-25psi on the trail. Super slow rock crawly type stuff and I'll air down into the teens. For most of this specific trip however, the lowest I went was 23psi.

The M240 has a claimed CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) of 2.11.  To be able to inflate a 35" tire from 0-35psi in less than five minutes. While nearly all of my re-inflation efforts were quick, I don't know if the 0-35psi claim is realistic. On average, to inflate from 23 to 37 took about 3 minutes per tire.  The speed can be affected by the battery the unit is drawing from and heat generation of the compressor. There are some other factors but they tend to be not as impacting as battery and heat. I'm sure elevation has an impact as well but I don't know how much of one.

The unit is durable, surviving a 25 mph impact with the road. The tools it comes with are all nice additions. I would recommend a high quality tire repair kit like Boulder Tools Tire Repair kit, additionally I'd recommend a good quality tire deflation kit if you're airing down regularly, the Boulder Tools Tire Deflator kit.

For the non off-roading type the unit is still a worthwhile purchase. The scenarios at the beginning of this article are common and could be resolved with a unit like the M240. A can of Fixaflat could potentially resolve them as well, however, there are a number of reasons you might not want to use Fixaflat. Tire Repair With Fixaflat-Use Caution lists the some of the reasons.

Having owned the M240 for a year, and used it extensively I can recommend the unit with a couple caveats.

1. If you're planning to use the unit to inflate tires larger than 35" you're going to have issues.
2. If you are inflating 35" tires it's likely going to take a little longer than the advertised times.

It's a quality product that fit my needs and performed as expected. Even exceeded my expectations when it comes to durability.

Happy Trails!

02 April 2018

American Grouch Discount

For those who may be interested, follow the link below and take 15% off your entire order at Survival Nomads. Lot of new products recently added!


16 March 2018

Survival Nomads

I can't say that 'retirement' is filled with idle time, in fact I'd say it's quite the opposite. I'm staying busy, tween the kids, the house, the chores (I'm still raising chickens and goats) plus cutting and splitting firewood to heat the place, I'm fairly engaged.


My latest endeavor has been bringing a few businesses online, besides www.outdoorsman.net www.woodsmansremedies.com http://goapocalypse.com there is also www.survivalnomads.com

Survival Nomads is my online shop selling various outdoorsy type goods. It's young but operational, and growing. I'm continuously trying out new stuff and discarding stuff. The goal being to carry some good reasonably priced gear, and eventually offering a range of items from low priced but still good quality to best in class gear that of course comes with the corresponding price tag. I want to carry stuff people would find useful and would feel like they could depend on it.

I've been an outdoors-man my whole life and I mean my whole life. At three years of age I sat in the creek in front of our house that didn't have electricity or running water and shoved my finger into critter holes in the bank. I was a happy kid then.

My point is, as I go through the goods in the store I'm ditching stuff that I don't think is useful to someone.  Having spent my life outside and using various tools I've come to appreciate some design elements. Not all of the designs currently stocked would fit my tastes but that doesn't mean it wouldn't for others.

Not only do I hope you'll visit the store, I hope to hear from you. Likes, dislikes, it's all good and it helps me grow. If you've got product suggestions I'm very eager to hear them. If I can source what you're looking for at a competitive price I'm all for it.

So, if you've the time, come see me at Survival Nomads.

13 March 2018

My Son

My second oldest son is off and running, and I am proud to say, following in his old man's footsteps to and extent. (I hope he avoids most of my mistakes along the way).

If you've the time, his work is worth the follow, he writes his own blog now.

Check him out at Notes of the Nomad.


And to use his tag line, "Stay safe out there!"

Good luck in your travels, my son.

10 March 2018

The Best Field Watch

I don't really know why I've always been fascinated by timepieces, classic timepieces more so than modern. What I do know is I've had a watch on my wrist since I was a young man, I believe I was twelve or thirteen when I got my first one and I've had one ever since.

Before I retired it wasn't uncommon to hear me say things like 'lose an hour in the morning and you'll spend all day looking for it'. which is an absolute truth. Many recent studies have shown that we tend to be most productive in our work days in the morning. It's all downhill after lunch for many, so losing an hour in the morning really hurts an individual's productivity.

In my final years of corporate life the bane of the smartphone rose to prominence. I can honestly say I've never seen anything more damaging to productive and wise use of time than the smartphone. I witnessed the disappearance of many a wrist watch, or saw them replaced by extensions of smartphones, a la the apple watch. True, there were some who still wore a timepiece and I never failed to notice that. I also studiously observed those who checked time on their watch, usually a glance that could be measured in milliseconds versus those who checked their phones. What starts as a look at the time turns into multi-minute affairs if not longer, because invariably there were several push notifications, text messages, emails that drove the person to check out of the meeting and essentially disengage from a productive state within the group. I digress.

The history of wristwatches is fascinating, when they first became readily available they were for women. The venerable pocket watch was the male timepiece of choice. The first record most often pointed to was in 1868, and until the first World War they remained on the wrist of the fairer sex. War would change that.

In the book 'Now it can be Told' by Philip Gibbs, he says;

"The watch hands [on the officers’ wrists] pointed to the second which had been given for the assault to begin, and instantly, to the tick, the guns lifted and made a curtain of fire round the Chateau of Hooge, beyond the Menin road, six hundred yards away.
The company officers blew their whistles, and there was a sudden clatter from trench-spades slung to rifle-barrels, and from men girdled with hand-grenades, as the advancing companies deployed and made their first rush forward."

Post war, production of wristwatches for men exploded and the world never really looked at alternatives again, until the modern smartphone became commonplace.

However, there are many who never took their watch off. Now seem that watches are making a come back. or so some have written


The analog field watch, the kind of watch most of our father's fathers and then they themselves wore. Found upon the wrist of travelers, adventurers, hunters and fishermen as well as mill workers and foundrymen police officers and of course soldiers, aviators, squids and lounge lizards, the world over. (No offense to my fellow Navy Men and Marines.) 

I've had a number of them over the years but I won't bore you with all of them while leading up to what I think might be the most affordable, durable, functional version I've owned. In fact, I've liked this watch so much I have several of them, but none of them have worn out or stopped working. So why so many of them? Because of minor changes since they were released that had features the prior version did not have. I've owned four of the Bertucci designs, all of them are still kicking.

The final iteration that has been on my wrist for a while now, the Bertucci A4T Illuminated. It was the first of the line that had all of the features I wanted, many of the others before it had some or most but not the complete feature set I was looking for.

While there are many features, the primary for me is the watch is a single piece of titanium, no pins and the fact that the crown is at the 4 o'clock position. That feature alone is huge to me. For a number of years I had a permanent callus on the back of my hand where the crown on a submariner dug incessantly into the tissue to the front of it. The 4 o'clock positioning of the crown on the A4T eliminates this issue. The watch is incredibly lightweight, and while it is a 44mm  case it is quite slim and doesn't catch on sleeves and the like. I like Marathon watches but they're bricks on the wrist and incredible thick.

The single piece of machined titanium. It's a clever design that does away with the pin method of attaching the watch to a band. You run the single continuous band through a bar, under the watch and then through the next bar. Done. Virtually indestructible. 

The A4T Illuminated has continuous illuminating micro tube hands & markers. The tritium microtubes are brite and unfading. The face is classically styled after many WWII Field Watches, the crystal is sapphire and virtually unscratchable.

From Bertucci;


• Equipped with our legendary U.S. Patented solid titanium Unibody™ case for extreme durability and comfort
• Durable screw down crown & case back
• Hardened anti-glare sapphire crystal
• Swiss made all-metal quartz movement
• Active Comfort™ ergonomic 4 o'clock crown does not impinge wrist movement
• Period authentic U.S. military dial with 12/24 hour markings and date
• Integrated unbreakable titanium band retention lug bars
• 100 M water resistance
• 5 year battery life
• LBI - Low Battery Indicator feature will cause the second hand to skip, indicating it's time to change the battery
• 3 year warranty

The only feature I wish was available is a solar powered version. Which brings me to why I've abandoned automatics. While they are great pieces, all automatics have to be serviced, some of them within four or five years, the longest I've ever seen advertised is ten years. And while that's a long time, even five years, the cost of servicing automatics is often atrocious. I've been quoted and paid from $250 to $1200 for a service that was usually required every five years. So, as much as I like automatics, I no longer own any. Solar is interesting and I've had a few, and is the only missing feature from the Bertucci A4T in my opinion.

There are a slew of bands that will work with this watch and the manufacturer offers three materials. Nylon nato zulu types, Horween leather and Tridura which is a polyurethane infused webbing. The band is 26mm in width.

All of the Bertucci field watches are available in a polymer resin, stainless steel, and titanium. The polys are the least expensive and offer the same one piece no pin design and the 4 o'clock crown. These are a great option for younger folk, my seven year old son has the A-2R Bertucci DX3 as does my sixteen year old daughter. It's a very inexpensive ($59.99 @ the time of this writing) very durable watch!

If you're looking for a classically styled field watch with a modern execution that is unencumbered by 'smart stuff' you need look no further than Bertucci. If the A4T isn't in your price range you can get essentially the same watch as the A4T Illuminated for quite a bit less if you're willing to forgo the Tritium, and or the sapphire crystal. The A2 for example is about 1/3rd the cost of the 4T. In fact the entire range of Bertucci watches can be had quite economically depending upon your choice of build and features.

See the entire line of Bertucci Watches. The ordering process at Bertucci is either over the phone or via email, in this way you can pic the exact watch, features and band type that you want. For those who are not interested in custom configurations, you can find nearly the entire line at Amazon.