by Craig Lepkowski, PCI #1180/EMSCI #272
Lake Forest (IL) Police Department
At the IPMBA Conference 2012 in St. Paul, I came across a vendor who was selling and handing out mini-bungee cords and s-clip carabiners from a company called NiteIze. Intrigued, I grabbed one of each and used them on my back rack and trunk bag for a few weeks. I was impressed enough with the smaller items to visit their website and see what other products they offered. The offerings on the website are quite impressive, not just in quantity, but in variety and usefulness as well.
The products range from carabiners of all shapes and sizes to adjustable bungee cords, from iPhone cases to flashlights and bikes lights. I challenge any public safety officer to browse the site and not find a single thing that would improve their gear supply. The options seem limitless and almost overwhelming; however, the site is very well organized and navigating it by product type is quite simple.
I had the pleasure of test-driving a few products that impressed me with their simplicity and durability. For the past year, I’ve used the Connect Case for iPhone and it has held up admirably, considering my clumsy handling of the phone. The case neatly wraps around the phone and clips in at the top. Seven edge bumpers on the front unobtrusively protect the glass screen and do not interfere with the view of the screen at all. All the controls are accessible with precise cutouts in the case and the removable clip on the back of the case has not shown any wear or lost its ability to tightly clasp a belt or pocket.
I’ve used it on my waist, in the front pocket of my ballistic vest cover, and in my cargo pants pocket and it has never come loose or threatened to fall off. A mobile version of the case includes reusable ties that easily wrap around various sizes of handlebars and keeps the phone secure as you ride. I tested the Connect Mobile Mount on a 20-mile ride over regular road conditions and curb ascents and descents and the case never wavered or moved from the stem where I had tightly twisted the ties. I had no fear whatsoever that my iPhone was in any danger of being knocked off or dropped to the ground. The ties were long and flexible enough to maneuver around my light battery, which is strapped to the bottom of my handlebar stem and which I did not want to remove.
The mini-bungee cords come in handy holding things down on my trunk bag, and a larger version bungee cord is adjustable in length. Each end has a plastic carabiner hook that connects to the cord with a wrap-around KnotBone connector that allows the user to adjust and lock the actual length of the cord to fit specific areas or more snugly hold things. There are two versions: size #9, which is a 9mm cord that adjusts from 48 inches to 10 inches, or size #5, which is a 5mm cord that adjusts from 28 inches to 6 inches. These two options take the place of a number of other static-length bungee cords and add versatility within a limited number of cords.
The company offers an innovative selection of useful lights with a multitude of uses. They have lights for inside tents or closets; belt, hat and zipper lights; pet and toy lights; and various bike lights. A fellow officer stole my DomeLit LED Area Light and strapped it to the visor above his seat. He loves using it to do paperwork when he works the overnight shift. The strap is adjustable and the light illuminates his clipboard writing area perfectly. A simple push of the light turns it on and off, so there is no fumbling for a smaller switch somewhere on the light. Similar technology is used on the BikeLit LED Bike Light. These small, plastic lights have a hooking system that allows the white light to hang from the brake or gear cables and the red light to hang from the saddle bracket.
The only issue I have with the BikeLit is the pressure needed to turn it on and off. My 10-year-old son does not have enough hand strength to activate the switch. He and my daughter both had to step on the pressure switch to get any results. Otherwise, the lights are bright enough and weatherproof. They may not replace a headlight for patrol purposes (NiteIze has other options using LED flashlights), but they will work in most commuting situations and the company is investigating customizable logo ClipLits that departments could hand out to the public. A great public relations possibility in the making! The company even makes a kid-friendly LED Micro Flashlight called the BugLit that attaches almost anywhere and provides a satisfactory amount of light.
In summary, I have been impressed with the NiteIze products I’ve used and put through some testing. They have a lot more products on their website with innovative solutions many readers will find invaluable and fairly priced, so be sure to check it out at www.niteize.com.
Commander Craig Lepkowski is a patrol supervisor for the Lake Forest (IL) Police Department. He is an IPMBA Police and EMS Cyclist Instructor and oversees the department’s part-time bike unit. He was elected to the IPMBA Board of Directors in 2013 and currently serves as Secretary. He enjoys biking as often as possible with his son and daughter, and can be reached at email@example.com.
(c) 2013 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of IPMBA News.