VSSL Outdoor Utility Tools launched in 2014 with the premise of placing adventure-oriented items within the space normally occupied by batteries in a flashlight. The advent of energy-efficient LEDs made the tubular battery compartment largely obsolete, but some outdoor enthusiasts prefer the form factor, so VSSL fills the void.
All VSSL Adventure Systems utilize the same “flashlight” body. A triple LED lamp tops a military-grade aluminum tubular body, while an oil-filled compass caps the opposite end to form a 9-inch long, 2-inch diameter, familiarly shaped flashlight with a hollow core. VSSL offers various “fillings;” we’ve been testing their first aid kit (MSRP $125) for a few months for this review.
The end caps – light and compass
The 3 LED light has three functions: bright, dim, red, and a blinking SOS mode. The three LR1 batteries are secured right under the LED bulbs so the entire lighting system occupies only the top 1 3/8 inches of the unit. There isn’t a safety lock on the power button, but it takes a continuous three seconds of pressing to power the lamp.
The 200-lumen light was plenty strong and had a distinct enough cut off for most close-range tasks and moving at hiking speed. The entire unit feels solid and robust in the hand, and the first aid contents were packed tightly so there wasn’t any rattling.
The oil-filled compass that caps the bottom of the unit is claimed to work from 14°F to 122°F and the damped motion of the face found its bearings quickly. The simple compass was used only to find general cardinal orientation and a rough bearing for travel. I found it curious that it didn’t contain luminescent markings.
The first aid kit that is tightly rolled in a nylon organizer and stuffed into the VSSL body is apportioned well for one that occupies such a tight space:
- 4 x large bandages
- 4 x knuckle bandages
- Two packages 3M Steri-Strips
- 2 x disposable thermometers
- 4 x antiseptic towelettes
- One pack Celox hemostatic agent
- 2 x antibiotic cream packs
- 2 x burn cream packs
- 4 x aspirin
- 4 x ibuprofen
- Emergency whistle
- 4 x safety pins
- A large sterile gauze pad
- One pair of medical gloves
- One roll adventure tape appropriate for repairs, trail marking, and first aid.
All items were inspected and seem to be of good quality; this didn’t strike me as a kit filled with the cheapest items sourced out of China; brand names such as 3M, Curad, Bayer, Advil, and Celox provide confidence.
Robust form factor
The VSSL First Aid Kit is a very robust package. The aluminum tubing, metal LED light and compass bodies, and nylon roll for first aid items all had a high-quality feel. Several drops and one complete yard sale while trail running on rocky terrain only left scuff marks in the red finish. The aluminum body is a much more protected storage container than the nylon bag or plastic box utilized by some first aid kits.
The entire unit is waterproof and carries a lifetime warranty.
The VSSL First Aid kit is essentially a utility flashlight that houses a first aid kit that is appropriate for one or two people engaging in one to two-day outdoor pursuits. Most serious outdoor adventurers would choose a headlight for nighttime activities. Add to this the 15.6 ounces verified weight that strikes the VSSL off the list of any ounce counter. But where the VSSL does make sense is everyday carry in vehicles; cars, trucks, boats, UTVs, etc. The flashlight form factor works fine for the trivial use that is common when exploring by vehicle and the durability of the all-metal body defends contents from off-road abuse.
VSSL also offers a Camp Supplies and Flask model, as well as a custom build option.