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Scot’s Product Review: REDHED Modular Tools

Tools are essential for prepping and life in general. One must have them, unless you are a wastrel who hires others to do all of your work. I doubt if that applies to any of our readers. Working with and moving dirt are two of the most important jobs for which we use tools. We might need to rearrange soil for gardening or construction. One could imagine creating protective barriers should things take a bad turn. Removing dirt from places it doesn’t belong could happen after a storm. The shovel is the basic tool for these chores, and we need to have at least one though two is better. The reason to have two is that a shovel with a rounded point is preferred for piercing soil, while a square shovel is best for scooping up dirt or leveling a trench or garden. There are actually a multitude of shovel types, but most jobs can be done with these basic two.

A rake is also a key tool for gardening. It helps you remove weeds, level soil, create small furrows for seeds, and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Again, there are an amazing number of types of rakes, but a good old bow rake is probably the most all around useful member of the rake family.

A clean workspace or abode is another nice thing to have and is actually essential for health as well as good results with many chores, so a broom is another important tool. I actually know people who don’t own brooms, relying on cleaning services or a central vacuum system for all their cleaning. That’s amazing, eh?

These certainly aren’t the only tools one needs to have around, but they are pretty basic and you really ought to have them. I suspect pretty much all of our readers do. However, one problem many of us have is finding space for all of our preps and tools. Then, what if we have to evacuate by vehicle and space is limited inside and on top of it?

REDHED Tools http://www.redhedtools.com/ has a solution for the space issue with a slick set of these four tools that have handles that can be taken apart for storage and a choice of cases to carry them in. You get two shovels, a broom, a rake, an extension and long and short handles. One set of handles is straight and the other has D handles on the end.

Rick Meinzer, a professional landscaper, founded REDHED Tools in Pleasant Grove, Utah, because he was dissatisfied with many of the tools he was using; other tools simply didn’t hold up. The tools his company is making are built with corrosion-resistant and powder-coated metals and hickory handles. The connectors that attach the tools to the handles are composed of aluminum and steel and have a polymer button used to operate the latch mechanism. The D handles at the end of one set of tool handles are made of a sturdy polymer attached to the hickory.

They come in two types of cases. One is a bit like a soft sided suitcase made from a heavy-weight nylon fabric. I very much liked how it is organized. Each tool has a marked spot with Velcro holders to keep everything in place. There are two zipper pockets if you want to keep small items or documents in the case. It has handles and a shoulder strap. The other case is a molded hard case, also with a spot for each tool and a shoulder strap.

REDHED loaned me one of their Essential Gardening Kits [1] that goes for $246.00 on Amazon for this review. It comes with soft sided case.

I was surprised by the weight of the kit. According to my scale, it is about 26.2 pounds, which was more than I expected. In the back of my mind, I thought the tools would be flimsy, but they are actually heavy and solid. One thing I really liked about them is that the handles are larger in diameter than most similar tools. That gives them more heft and, for my size hands at least, a better grip. They were very smooth, which makes them comfortable.

I wondered how well the connector system would work when I first read about the tools. There is a small bit of play in the assembled tools, which I expected would bother me, but I got over it quickly. Overall, I was surprised at how sturdy the tools seemed. I used them for about a month, and I think they will hold up as well as the True Temper tools I usually buy at the home store. The shovels have sufficient weight for digging. A shovel that is too light is not fun to work with, as the weight helps you sink it into the soil.

To assemble the tools, you slide the parts in question together and turn them until two steel pins lock into place. To disassemble, you push two polymer buttons on the side of the connector and twist the pieces apart. A strong spring holds them in place. The mechanism seems pretty well shielded from dirt.

I wish the edges of the shovels had been sharpened, but I have never encountered one that was made that way at the factory. A sharp shovel will cut through sod and roots far better than the typical dull one, and it is worth your time to sharpen it. I use either a bench grinder or my Work Sharp Original Sharpener, depending on how bad the edge is when I start. If it is really dull, I first go to the bench grinder.

You can assemble two tools for use at the same time, but you might not get the length you need with both. I would have liked to have enough pieces to assemble both shovels at the same time in the standard long handled configuration. The push broom bothered me, as I found it to be too short. When I compared it to my standard push broom, it was about a foot shorter. If REDHED were to add a 12-inch extension to the set, it would really help both with the broom and with being able to assemble more than one tool at a time. I also felt the rake was shorter than I liked.

It would be really nice to have some more attachments for the handles. A hoe comes to mind quickly, as does a standard broom. The one you get is a push broom, and they don’t work as well in corners as I like, though they are great for quickly cleaning a large area. A pruning saw could be very handy, and this system would allow you to assemble it with alternate lengths which would be a boon. They could use a folding one, so the blades wouldn’t shred the case. Narrow shovels should be useful as would a leaf rake. I was thinking how nice it would be to have a dustpan in the kit, but it occurred to me that you could use the square shovel for that instead. I momentarily thought about having an axe head too, but decided that would push the envelope dangerously.

Since they sent me this kit to review, they upgraded the concept with the Garden Tool Master kit by reinforcing the connectors with a dowel of hardwood in the center. This kit costs $299.00 in the soft case [2] and $349.00 in the hard case [3]. The enhanced tools have a lifetime warranty, though they do note that you should take reasonable care of them.

You can also purchase a shovel kit [4] for $188.98 with just a long straight handle that would be good for a car kit. There are some other shovel kits, but this one comes with the extension. Without it, the tools are shorter than I like for serious work. There isn’t, alas, a case for it.

I would like to be able to buy some of the parts separately. An extra extension would be very helpful to have.

The kits clearly take up less space than standard tools, and I can see real value in that. The quality also seems good. The price is higher than a comparable set of tools from the home store, which would go for $100 to $125 or so, but I think the REDHED are worth the price for what you are getting. The buyer will have to judge if the space saving is worth the extra cost. I know I would really like to keep a set in each of our vehicles. If I regularly dealt with mud and snow, it would be even more important.

Scot’s Product Review: Rite in the Rain Paper

I suspect that I am not alone in collecting a vast array of useful documents on my computer to help me handle most any chore pre- or post-crisis. The computer is great while everything is working, but what if there is some disturbance that leaves me unable to use it? That question has been nagging me for years, and I have finally resolved to start printing out some of the stuff I have accumulated over the years.

One of the problems, though, is how to protect the printouts. In my part of the country, a hurricane and its attendant rainfall are some of the major threats. Regular printer paper doesn’t fare well when it gets wet. It disintegrates and clumps together in unuseful masses. I have a laminator and have used it for a few things, but the material is expensive, and it sometimes fails. My machine uses adhesive sheets, and heat can compromise it. Sheet protectors help, but they aren’t truly waterproof, so the paper can be damaged.

I’ve run into waterproof notepads, and it suddenly struck me that perhaps there could be waterproof printer paper. Low and behold, a search on Amazon produced Rite in the Rain Copy Paper http://smile.amazon.com/Rite-Rain-White-Copy-Paper/dp/B0016H1RYE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436655716&sr=8-1&keywords=rite+in+the+rain+printer+paper at $32.00 for 200 sheets, and I decided to give it a try.

The first important note is that this is for laser printers and copiers. It has two problems with inkjet printing. Virtually all ink jet ink is water soluble and depends on the paper absorbing it. Since this paper is water proof, it can’t take the ink; even if it did, most ink jet ink would wash off at worst and at best smear. Rite in the Rain suggests that if you have an inkjet printer, you print your document and then copy it onto their paper with a laser copier.

I found it printed crisply and well on my Brother Laser multi-function machine. I then soaked it for an hour, and it came out intact. When it dried, it looked a bit rumpled, but it was just fine and everything was legible. Encouraged, I left it in the water overnight. Once again, it came out perfectly usable. One thing that worried me was if pages would stick together after drying. So to test this, I folded the wet paper and put a weight on it. Once it was dry, it unfolded without sticking. I then punched binder holes in it and soaked it again for three more hours, and it emerged intact; while a bit more rumpled, it was still as legible and usable as when it first came out of the printer.

I am very satisfied with this stuff and have already begun printing key how-to documents for a binder. First up will be all of the key water purification notes I have. I’m not sure what will be next, but most likely we will search out the manuals for key equipment and tools. I also have some military manuals that will go into the queue; the LDS Preparedness Manual is another candidate. I’m not Mormon, but it has a lot of excellent material in it, though I’m not sure all of it needs printing.

– SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Eire [5]