- Buyer's Guide
In an inner-city street in Metro Detroit, you’ll find the workspace of Glow Rhino. A burgeoning operation founded by veterans in the defense industry. Veterans with over 30 years of experience with the magical stuff known as Tritium – a self-powered light source that doesn’t require batteries or an outside charge. A light source that glows and allows you to find your essential items when dark consumes everything.
This high-grade material is often used in watches, gun sights, exit signs, and other military applications requiring visibility in low light.
And I’ve loved Tritium for more than a decade. I first discovered it being used in EDC. And I even included some Tritium bits in a Carryology article I whipped up back in 2013. It’s science and magic and its glow can be useful and awesome all at the same time.
So when CJ Karchon, the co-founder of Glow Rhino, reached out to Carryology in early 2021 with a friendly greeting and a question, “What if?”, we were excited about the possibilities of working with the USA’s glow experts.
And after many CAD models, countless hours of CNC milling, and a dozen prototypes… we built something to help us all carry better.
WHAT IS TRITIUM EXACTLY?
First detected in 1934 by Ernest Rutherford (“the father of nuclear physics”), Tritium is a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen and it can exist in a gaseous state or in water. In its gaseous and rarest form, Tritium is created by cosmic rays interacting with gases in the upper atmosphere. Most commonly, it’s a by-product of nuclear fission.
In layman's terms? Tritium is magic glowy science stuff. It’s radioactive, but is 100% safe to humans externally (don’t eat it). And because it's radioactive – it glows. It doesn't need charging via a light source. It doesn't need batteries. It doesn't need to be plugged in. It requires nothing. It glows on its own. And it will continue glowing for more than a decade.
GLOW FOR YOUR PACKS AND POCKETS
We’ve always wanted to use Tritium. And our challenge was to find the right spark, the right application. So based on our real-world experience from our team and from readers, we realized there was something special we could create.
It is guaranteed to get dark every day (unless you’re in Antarctica in the summer like Carryology reader Ethan Rudnitsky, article coming soon). And many of our favorite EDC packs have multiple zippers, exterior and interior. Fumbling with multiple zipper pullers in the darkness to try to find the compartment or pocket you're looking for isn't always pleasant. We wanted to change that.
So we took Glow Rhino's Glow Fob and reimagined it – designed our very own titanium Tritium zipper puller and key fob combination. Not just in one glowing color but two, so you can differentiate between your two most used pockets on your favorite pack or bag. There would be Orange (because Carryology) and Green.
And for those of us who carry keys, you can ditch the Dyneema cord and simply pop the fob onto your keychain, so you can easily locate your keys inside your bags or (if you’re unlucky enough to drop them) in the scrub.
Double uses. Double colors. Double party.
We love Dyneema, it’s no secret. It’s the strongest fiber in the world. And if we’re making our first zipper puller, we didn’t want to hold back on the details. From the very beginning, it would be Dyneema cord for attachment to zipper sliders or existing pullers.
Before selecting we ran trials on half a dozen different thicknesses with a dozen different packs and pullers before landing on our final selection: 1.2mm Dyneema. Thin enough to pass through the zipper sliders on 99% of packs, long enough so you can double the cord over on itself, and crazy strong (more than 550+ lbs when tied correctly). Tritium + Titanium + Dyneema. Doesn’t get too much better than that.
CLEAN, BULLET-LIKE AND BUILT FOR GRIP
We ran through several variations of this design, going back and forth on the form to make it perfect. We wanted the design to work as a zipper puller and/or a key fob. It also had to look clean and bullet-like – a real 'showpiece' for the backpack modders among us.
And most importantly, it had to have just enough texture so you can grab onto it with gloves without it slipping away.
So back and forth we went for months. Slightly tweaking the 3D model, having it CNC milled, evaluating, and then repeating the process all over again, we came out with the form and function we were after.
Lastly, we know some will ask… all prototyping and manufacturing of these Cairns is completed proudly in the USA.
The project codename for our collaboration projects is something we always get to have a little fun with. This one is no different.
Rewind to our adventure to Iceland in October/November, where we witnessed the Northern Lights illuminating the sky like it was made of Tritium and we geocached three of our Carryology Icelandic R&D Expedition patches for folks to discover. We placed one of these patches by a Viking cairn.
What’s a "cairn"? These cairns are unassuming piles of rocks that are speckled across the entire country of Iceland’s brutal landscape. These stacks were originally built by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago. Their purpose was to "lead the path" so their fellow travelers could follow their footsteps safely. Following these cairns was a matter of life or death. One of the cairns in the Westfjords is even considered to be the oldest structure in Iceland and is believed to have been erected in 871 AD by Hrafna-Flóki (Raven-Flóki).
We loved this history and the concept of being used as a travel marker... so we decided “Cairn” would be the official name. A marker to guide you in the dark.
A COIN FOR COMMUNITY
Once we finally had the two finalized Cairns (in Orange and in Green)... we couldn’t just leave it there. The team at Glow Rhino blew away our expectations already, so we knew they could handle something we’ve been dreaming about for several years. Nervously, I asked CJ if he thinks they could whip up some challenge coins… which normally isn’t really a big deal. You see, there are dozens and dozens of challenge coin suppliers out there on the internet. They run all kinds of colored epoxy inlays, cutouts, and more. But the one thing that NONE of these suppliers do? Titanium. Not one of them. Without blinking, CJ said they could absolutely knock them out for us. I sent over the design I had already been working on and just like that, titanium was being cast into coin.
For the design of the coin, we went with a favorite, the Japanese asanoha geometric pattern that we’ve used a few times before, milled into the surface of the titanium. We added both our Carryology wordmark logo and our C icon bug logo, one on each side which makes for a Heads side and a Tails side. And lastly, two bits of Latin. “Melius Portare” translates to “Carry Better”. “Est MMIX” for the year Carryology was founded, 2009.
Okay, not everyone is aware of these curious pieces. Myself and many of us out there carry challenge coins in our pockets every single day as part of our EDC. You will never catch me without mine… ever.
Let us explain why. Though the history is a bit unclear, the concept of a challenge coin dates back to Roman times. Soldiers were given unique coins based on their achievements. From there, there’s another bit of history in WWI where one particular flying squadron made these coins popular. They became a form of backup identification and thus could save your life.
Now, the fun part. As these coins were life-saving items, the members of squadrons made a game out of ensuring that their fellow pilots always had theirs in their pocket. So, when they would all be out at a local tavern, one would “challenge” their fellow soldier to see if they had their coin or if they forgot it back at barracks. To challenge, you simply remove your own coin and place it on the table. If the pilot reached into his pocket and presented his coin, well, then the challenger buys the next round of drinks. However, if the airmen had forgotten their coin and could not produce the coin… they buy the drinks.
Myself and my friends regularly partake in this tradition. As you can imagine, it gets pretty expensive if you’re with a crew of 20+ folks and forget your coin. So always bring your coin. Always. Plus, they look awesome in EDC flat lays.
TIMES AND DATES
The Glow Rhino x Carryology Cairn releases on 15th December, 4PM ET (New York Time).
The 'Exclusive Release Article' will be published to Carryology.com, and will include the shop link to purchase.
There will be a limited amount of packages available containing all 3 products; Ti Cairn (Orange), Ti Cairn (Green), and Ti Challenge Coin. This combo deal will also be discounted. We suspect these will go quickly, so act fast. Remaining items will be sold individually.
This is a one-time-only release, in limited edition.
Once they're sold out, they're gone forever.