It’s the most wonderful time of the year—gadget time!
Whether you’re looking to spoil your favorite EP pro with some cool gear, or you’re an EP agent on the lookout for some tech that’ll make your life easier in the field and off-the-clock—we’ve got you covered. Here are our ten recommendations for 2018.
N-Ear Stealth360 Mono
Earpieces are like earbuds: it’s hard to find the right combination of comfort, durability, and audio quality. While compromises might be OK for some when it comes to music, our job doesn’t allow that. No one wants to spend a long day fiddling with their ill-fitting earpiece, and communicational clarity is crucial. If you can’t hear what your team’s saying regardless of the surrounding noise level, you’re potentially putting the principal, your team, and yourself at risk.
Thankfully, the Stealth360 Mono delivers across the board. You can rock it all-day-long with no issue, its design is so discrete some folks may not even notice you’re wearing it, and the audio quality is stellar. We recommend the Mono version for even more durability: the cable and the fit have been improved over the base design—and given the other models’ quality, that’s saying a lot.
And don’t forget: for a limited time, you can get a 15% discount on N-Ear products when you use this code: AS2018
5.11 Defender Jean
Granted, jeans aren’t exactly gadgets—but we couldn’t leave 5.11’s Defender series off the list. Available in two colors that allow you to blend in whether you’re dressing up for an event or for going for a more casual look, the Defender-Flex Jean is what many of us had been looking for years. Lightweight yet durable, made of a flex material that makes them extremely comfy, and with enough pockets to carry plenty of tools. Heads-up for those of you who have larger phones and don’t want to store them in their back pockets: the front pockets may not be as deep as you’d like—but thankfully, the mag pockets on the side are perfect for that.
Magpul DAKA Pouches
Speaking of storage, you definitely want to consider Magpul’s DAKA series. Tough, lightweight, and available in several sizes, these pouches are perfect for storing pretty much everything you can think of: first aid kits and medical gear, electronic cables and chargers, travel items and hygiene products, etc. The pouches are not submersible, but water resistant enough you’ll never have to worry about your gear getting wet. Throw them in your EP admin bag and you’re good to go.
Greyman Tactical Panels for Pelican cases
Pelican cases are amazing for storing your heavy-duty gear. However, some of us want to customize our storage options and use organizers that really suit our needs. Greyman Tactical’s insert panels are the perfect tool for the job. Not only will they make your life easier when it comes to sorting out your gear, they’ll allow you to maximize the space in your Pelican case—meaning you’ll be able to bring more gear with you. These panels are good enough that some people don’t even use them with Pelican cases and simply mount them inside their vehicles.
Given our reliance on electronics of all kinds, power banks are pretty much a must-have whether you’re traveling or on the job. There are plenty of simple, affordable ones out there, but OmniCharge products make most of the competition look bad by comparison. The Ultimate model is loaded with a variety of ports (including fast charging USB, USB-C, and AC/DC), splash and dust resistant thanks to its IP54 enclosure, and it can be charged up in three measly hours. Thanks to its 40,300 mAh capacity, you’ll be able to charge your phone, tablet, laptop, and still have plenty of juice left over for your other devices.
Garmin inReach Mini
In our 2017 Christmas post, we recommended the Beartooth for on- and off-the-grid communications. While the Beartooth is a great device, Garmin’s inReach mini is a beast in its own right. Small enough to fit in a pocket, this satellite communicator has up to 90 hours of battery life, supports downloadable maps and weather forecasts, SMS and email messages, an interactive SOS mode, and global coverage via the Iridium network. Combine it with the Omni Charge, and you’ll be able to maintain contact for days on end.
Bad Elf GPS Pro+
Another communication device, but not quite the same as the inReach. Bad Elf’s GPS Pro+ is a Bluetooth GPS with worldwide coverage and no need for a subscription or internet connection of any kind. With a stunning 2.5-meter accuracy, 35 hours of battery life, a barometer that’ll work even at high-altitude, exportable data logs, and a bunch of apps it can interact with, this little device is one of the best lightweight GPS out there. You can link it to your phone for better accuracy, but its aviation-grade GPS generally doesn’t need it!
Sometimes, bags and cases just won’t do. Whether you or your client need to keep some sensitive material or gear safe, look no further than Vaultek’s products. The larger models (such as the MX and VT series) comes with all the bells and whistles you can dream of: biometric scanner, a smart app to track usage, an illuminated keypad, smart keys, pistol racks, impact detection sensors that can trigger an alarm, and so much more. Highly recommended!
MantisX Firearms Trainer
Many of us regularly use various data-driven apps to keep ourselves sharp physically and mentally: tracking our diet, general health, steps taken, gym workouts, etc. For many EP pros, a data-driven approach to bettering ourselves should definitely include firearms training. The Mantis X is a marvel when it comes to that. Once connected to the accessory rail and linked to your smartphone app, it’ll crunch the numbers and help you improve your shooting performance. Every shot is carefully parsed, and the MantisX behaves like a digital coach by pointing out areas in which you might need improvement. It’ll even track your progress over time to make sure you are indeed getting better. One could say this training tool is a life changer, but most importantly it may very well be a lifesaver.
C-A-T and SOF® Tactical-Tourniquet Wide
There are plenty of tourniquets out there, but only some have been approved by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCCC). We’d like to recommend the Combat Application Tourniquet® and the SOF Tactical-Tourniquet Wide (SOF®TT-W). There is no reason to save a few bucks and risk someone else’s life—or your own, for that matter. These two tourniquets have the best testing and approval criteria, plus a lot of ‘live tissue’ testing and hard, irrefutable data to back up how field-worthy they are. We recommend these two in particular because not only are they fantastic in general, but especially because they can be applied one-handed.