Sunday, May 11, 2008

Who gives a Toot? Whistle Tests Are In...

During PWYP VII, Care and I decided that we were going to finally take some time to test my collection of PSK sized whistles to see how they performed. After a fruitless search to borrow a decibel (db) meter, I finally broke down and bought one for the tests. I settled on a Radio Shack db meter and packed it with the whistles for the trip to North Carolina.

The tests were conducted on Chestnut Mountain, NC – out in the woods with all of the ambient noises you’d experience in the field, not in some sound chamber. The decibel meter was set up 4’ from the whistle. Each whistle was blown three times, with each reading recorded by Care. The averages are seen in the following chart. Later, we recruited Jeremy, Rebecca and Emma (the J, R and E of JRE Industries fame) to help out. We had each of them test the whistles in similar fashion and we recorded the results as before. Their averages are also displayed below.

While the tests seem to indicate a clear winner, that’s not my first hand observation. My observations are that:

1. Any whistle that was capable of routinely reaching 105 decibels (db) or better is worthy of serious consideration for everyday carry and/or inclusion in a PSK or 1st Aid Kit. Reaching/surpassing the 105db mark is going to get someone’s attention!

2. Ease of blowing to reach or exceed the level of 105db is a serious consideration. One with a lung condition such as asthma, COPD, or chronic bronchitis would be well advised to look at the whistles that have been noted as being “Very easy to blow” or “Easy to blow.”

3. Whistle construction is critical if you’re going to depend on it to survive. Look for quality construction. If you opt for a metal whistle and live in a cold climate, take precautions to cover the lip piece of the whistle with a protective sleeve of some type to prevent lip damage.

Wykeite Custom (Cylinder Type w/ stainless reed)
Adult Average: 109.6
Child Average: 110
Overall average: 109.8 db
Very easy to blow. Easy to change tone/pitch using fingers to manipulate side of valve. Excellent small size for even the smallest of kits or key ring. Expensive, but the construction is nearly bulletproof. Also available in brass and titanium construction.

Acme Thunderer (pea type)
Adult Average: 105
Child Average: 107
Overall average: 106 db
The former standard issue police whistle and the former standard by which all others were judged.

Acme Tornado (pealess)
Adult Average: 105
Child Average: 107
Overall Average: 106 db
Very easy to blow. Great size for kits or key ring.

Fox Rescue Howler (pealess)
Adult Average: 109.6
Child Average: 110
Overall Average: 109.8 db
Very thin and slim design. Excellent for fitting into a survival kit. Easy to blow.

Mini Fox 40 (pealess)
Adult Average: 112
Child Average: 116
Overall Average: 114 db
A modern classic. Used in most professional sports and, now, in law enforcement. Easy to blow and very, very loud. Becomes much smaller when you clip or file the “wings” off the bottom of the whistle.

US Gov’t Issue (pea type)
Failed: Whistle was discontinued from testing when it could not routinely break the 100 decibel mark.

ACR (pealess)
Adult Average: 109
Child Average: 111
Overall Average: 110 db
Very thin and slim design. Excellent for fitting into any size survival kit. Very easy to blow.

Bass Pro Flat Marine Safety (pealess)
Adult Average: 107.6
Child Average: 106*
Overall Average: 106.8 db
Very thin, almost wafer like and easy to fit into a kit. Produces duo cord type sound.
* Routinely overblown by children present.

Tool Logic Knife (pealess)
Adult Average: 108.6
Child Average: 109
Overall Average: 108.8 db
Easy to blow. Easily overblown without absolutely perfect lip placement.

Jet Scream (pealess)
Adult Average: 109.3
Child Average: 112
Overall Average: 110.6 db
Odd shape and size doesn’t lend itself to being included in all but a large sized kit. A bit on the hard to blow side.

Windstorm (pealess)
Adult Average: 115
Child Average: 117
Overall Average: 116 db
Odd shape and size doesn’t lend itself to being included in all but a large sized kit or attached to a strap or harness. Very, very loud. Hard to blow, requires a lot of airflow. Construction seems a bit flimsy.

Roy Gonia Lucky Dog (pea type)
Adult Average: 108.3
Child Average: 109
Overall Average: 108.6 db
Easy to blow. Construction seems a bit flimsy.

Bison Small (Cylinder Type w/ plastic reed)
Failed: Reed fell out and was lost just before the test. If you own one or more of these, pop the reed out and epoxy it back into place before relying on its performance.

Bison Large (Cylinder Type w/ plastic reed)
Failed: Reed twisted 90 degrees and could not be blown loud enough to reach the 100db mark. See notes above.

ITWNexus AeroWave Zipper Pull (pealess)
Failed: Too small to manipulate easily. Far too easy to be overblown. Routinely overblown at >91 Decibels.

A good whistle is a must have item for daily carry and for survival kit inclusion. A whistle requires a lot less effort and fewer wasted calories than screaming for help. A good whistle will carry much farther than your voice will, too. Here's a funny but true example of which I speak -

One Sunday morning, I went to Connecticut Hills Game Management Area to do some shooting. (It's the largest piece of state wilderness in NY State.) Once done shooting, I decided to test out my new stainless Wykeite whistle. I blew the heck out of it - man is it loud! As I was packing my truck back up to leave, a NYS EnCon Police Officer pulled up in her vehicle and slammed to a stop. She asked me if I'd heard the whistle, too. (She assumed someone was in distress.) I showed her the whistle and told her it was me testing it. She had been out of her vehicle a full quarter mile away as the crow flies, through heavily forested woods when she first heard the whistle! I was really impressed by the whistle's performance. She wasn't...


PS. A special thanks to Jeremy, Rebecca and Emma for their participation in these tests. They're a bunch of great kids that really lend new meaning to what events like these are all about! M & C


Steve said...

Great review Mike. Very informative!

stjohn45 aka Steve

Aaron said...

Great Review,

As a side note what type of carabiner is that in the above picture and do you have a source for them?

SgtMike & Care said...

Aaron - The source is Timex. That carabiner came with a Timex pocket watch some years back... M

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have information about the Wykeite Custom Whistle? Where to buy and cost. It looks like an interesting piece of survival equipment. Thanks!

SgtMike & Care said...

I'm not sure of Wykeite's current availability. At last word, he was still making whistles on a very limited basis due to personal committments.

Sorry for the inconvenience...


LarryB said...

Wow dude! Just found your blog through EDCForums and do I like it or what? You and Care most certainly have built an awesome Survival related blog here friend!

Your whistle testing information is brilliant, accurate and VERY informative! I've bookmarked your fine blog and will come back to see more of your excellent work soon.

Thanx for sharing with everyone...



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative testing. Exactly what I was searching for; a comparison of the best rated whistles.

- Asthmatic, photojournalist, survivor freak.