ASG geared-up survival expert Tony Nester in the latest from 5.11 Tactical. Find out what features worked best during his rigorous desert survival training.
Flex-Tac Stryke Pants
These are probably the most comfortable and durable pants I’ve worn afield, and I’m amazed at their well-thought-out design, with numerous cargo pockets, seven belt loops, and 5.11’s patented ripstop fabric material.
After three days of beating these up on a desert survival course where we were plowing through knee-high thickets, they held up extremely well and only showed minimal signs of abrasion.
This is a polyester shirt that comes in both long- and short-sleeved versions. It has several integrated vents that run from the armpit to the bottom of the shirt.
I’ve always found polyester fabrics to be mildly uncomfortable in the triple-digit heat of the desert, though acceptable in normal summer temperatures, and that was my experience with the 5.11 Traverse shirt, this despite the venting and moisture-wicking fabric. I prefer poly-cotton or nylon-cotton blends given how straight polyester can irritate the skin of some people (myself included).
That said, the design is solid and I like the two zipper-secured pockets on either side. The shirt provides SPF 50 sun protection.
XPRT 2.0 Tactical Desert Boots
The rocky and cactus-strewn terrain of the desert demands rugged footwear and the XPRT boots did not disappoint.
These were pretty stiff out of the box and I was concerned there would be a long breakin time, but the fit started to “relax” after a weekend trip and are now very comfortable.
The material, comprised of Nubuc-Suede with leather overlays, is above average for a desert boot. This alone makes it stand out from the myriad knockoffs on the market today and should add considerably to the boot’s longevity. The factory insole was a little thin for my tastes and I replaced it with a pair of Superfeet soles, which add more cushioning for walking on rocky surfaces.
Being a full-time guide, I tend to go through a pair of boots about every eight months, and I envision the XPRT holding up well beyond that timeframe given their current performance. All in all, a lightweight, durable design for arid regions.
LMC Recurve Stainless Steel Folding Knife
The LMC Recurve is a plain edge folder with a 3.25-inch hollow ground blade. The blade is easy to deploy with one hand and comes with a liner-lock mechanism. The grip offers the option of a reversible clip to accommodate right- and left-handed users. It measures 4.25 inches closed and 7.5 inches open with a satin finish on the blade, which is crafted from 3mm thick AUS 8 steel hardened to 57-60 HRC.
The thing that most impressed me was the comfortable finger choil, a feature not often found in folding knives. This provides better control when carving while increasing the safety factor. I used the blade numerous times for creating wood shavings from a resinous log for firestarting along with general camp chores, and it shined through.
Ideal for everyday carry and utilitarian functions, the LMC is a reliable cutting tool in the competitive world of folding blades.
5.11 RUSH24 Backpack
As with other items in the 5.11 line, this pack is made of quality material and has a spacious design. With my height of 6 feet, I found the neck yoke and shoulder strap width fine, but I would like to see thicker padding in the latter.
The pack comes with a wrap-around web platform that is MOLLE-compatible and provided ample room to attach my survival kit and a small medical pouch on the front panel. The company calls this a 2,000 cubic inch (33 liter) pack, but that’s only the main compartment; the multiple side and front pockets greatly increase the carrying capacity. The RUSH24 is more space than one needs for a day-hike, but ideal for two- to three-day treks or as a bugout bag. I know mine will be seeing a lot of use.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.
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