What is the problem?
Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale war, the patriots of Ukraine have tried with all their might to support and help those defending the country. Ukrainians donate, volunteer, invent, and implement many creative ideas, hoping that soldiers will return home safe and sound.
What is the solution?
The past year has taught Ukrainians a lot. Today, there is close collaboration between folk artisans, small businesses, and Ukrainian military to not just produce tools they need, but to constantly adjust and improve them, taking into account their field experience and requests from the soldiers who use them.
Rubryka looked at ten useful inventions created by Ukrainian volunteers and businesses to make it more comfortable and convenient for Ukrainian soldiers at the front.
1. Trench hammocks
Volunteers in Lviv created a hammock custom made for sleeping in the trenches at the request of the military. Using plans provided by the military, the volunteers developed an original pattern of a mobile sleeping and relaxation spot.
"The main point is that there should be no direct contact with the ground, from which the cold comes, and with the outside environment. That's why the hammock is oval — it protects from rain on top," explains volunteer Viktor Palas.
The lightweight hammocks can be folded and carried in a backpack.
The waterproof and durable product weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms, and also has a dual purpose — if necessary, it can be used as a stretcher to carry the wounded. The first samples of hammocks have already been handed over to soldiers fighting near Bakhmut, which has been held by Ukrainian forces despite hellish efforts by Russia to overtake it.. Volunteers are currently looking for fabric suppliers to put the hammock into mass production.
2. Mobile beds
The RGC Production plant in the city of Dnipro manufactures not only high-quality gas equipment for Ukraine's energy networks, but also items for the needs of the armed forces. Among them are tactical beds which are light, mobile, reliable, and necessary for Ukrainian defenders on the front line.
The plant designers developed, tested, and put into production the improved mobile places for rest on the order of the Ukrainian military. This compact folding bed can be placed anywhere, is easy to fold and unfold, and has a cover for transportation.
RGC Production says they have sent more than 120 tactical beds to the front line. Thanks to well-thought-out production, making a hundred beds takes only a week.
3. Sleeping bags and heated vests
A small sewing enterprise in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, with only four employees, used to mainly sew beautiful women's dresses before the full-scale war. Now, it is engaged in sewing modified sleeping bags for the armed forces. They are warm, waterproof, and electrically heated. The sleeping bag weighs two and a half kilograms and is a kind of sandwich — made of thick water-resistant fabric, padding polyester, foil, and artificial fur. Most importantly, this sleeping bag heats not only because of the filler: inside, eight heating elements work from a USB power bank.
During the development process, the tailors consulted with the military to take into account all their needs: what size it should be, how to make is as versatile as possible, where to place the pocket for the power bank, and many other nuances. They plan to improve the model further by adding a pillow insert to the sleeping bag hood to make users even more comfortable.
In addition, vests with electric heating are also sewn here. Such vests began to be ordered not only by the military but also by Vinnytsia police officers. They wear them under a bulletproof vest to not freeze at checkpoints, where they must spend hours.
4. Camouflage suits
In their free time, public servants in the Cherkasy Region sew fleece jackets, socks, and weave nets – but they are especially proud of their kikimora — special camouflage suits for sniper fighters.
Usually, kikimora are woven from colorful rags, burlap, or whatever materials are on hand. Volunteers from Lysyanka say that this is a mistake. In bad weather, the fabric can get wet, and the kikimora becomes very heavy. They managed to find a more comfortable, light, and safe material for protective suits called spunbond, a practically-weightless synthetic fiber. It does not get wet, is very durable, and can withstand extreme temperatures. Kikimora from spunbond weighs only one and a half kilograms. This is quite an advantage since the weapon and ammunition carried by snipers can weigh around 50 kilograms on its own.
5. Glove for drone operators
HardRide, a Ukrainian brand that designs, sews, and sells clothing, bags, backpacks, and tactical gear, recently introduced a specially-made glove for drone operators. Thanks to this invention, the hands of operators can be protected from severe cold temperatures. The product is made of membrane fabric and has alternating transparent and opaque panels with fleece and insulation inside.
In the comments on the brand's pages on social networks, military drone operators say that they had eagerly awaited such a product, and dreamed of a similar glove a year ago.
6. Charging station in a canister
Residents of the Trostyanets community in the Stryi district of Lviv, have worked to support soldiers at the front line by sending food, medicine, fuel, and also their own unique invention. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary gasoline canister, but in fact, it is a powerful DIY power bank that, for example, can charge a smartphone 150 times.
As the authors of the idea note, the unusual appearance of the field battery has its own explanation. Usually, cases of DIY power banks are made of various materials — plastic, aluminum, and even wood. As practice shows, they are not durable: during operation or after a fall, the device's casing is easily damaged, which results in device failure.
That's why volunteers from the Stryi district made a case from an ordinary 20-liter gas canister, which is made of solid metal and has a convenient handle for carrying with balanced weight. A door was cut into the side of the canister for convenient access to a 220-volt socket for charging, and connectors for charging from car batteries or solar panels.
"Our devices, in such a strong casing, are several times cheaper than factory-made counterparts," says Mykhailo Tsyhulyak, the head of the Trostyanets community, volunteer. "Lviv craftsmen sewed special hermetic covers that protect power banks from trench moisture," he added.
The military personnel appreciates field batteries from Trostyanets volunteers. More than four dozen have already been produced for soldiers serving on the front line.
7. Shoe dryer
It's not only mobile phones and Starlinks that can be powered by power banks. In Vinnytsia, shoe dryers are made for the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the Society of the Blind, which started producing them to help Ukraine's military and other defense forces at the front because the defenders risk getting infections from wet shoes.
"Currently, we are starting a line with a more mass production of dryers," says Kostiantyn Ilnytskyi, the director of the enterprise, who says that volunteers have already sent the first trial batch of fifty dryers to the front line.
8. Sapper shovels
A craftsman from Ivano-Frankivsk produces sapper shovels for the armed forces. In 10 months, Ivan Derenko managed to make about 3,000 sapper shovels, which Ukrainian defenders use on the front lines. It takes about two hours to create one.
Derenko makes the shovels of two shapes — rounded and trapezoidal. According to the manufacturer, the blades are so strong enough to cut metal.
9. Bathhouse on wheels
Residents of the Kivertsivska community in the Volyn region implemented another useful solution for Ukrainian defenders. With their efforts and funds, they converted the body of a truck into a mobile bathhouse.
Every detail was provided for the soldiers' comfort: a generator for heating water in the shower, axes and chainsaws for preparing firewood in the bath, hygiene products and brooms. The fully-equipped DIY bathhouse has already gone to the east, where Ukrainian defenders bravely hold back the Russian invaders.
10. Space food
The team of the charitable fund Razom for Ukraine and the company FEST developed special dry rations for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, designed for extreme conditions. According to the developers, tableware is not even necessary. During the creation of dry food, the manufacturers relied on the experience of astronauts.
At first, they even thought about options with tubes, like those used by astronauts, but ultimately settled on ziplock bags. The idea was to put the food in small packages so that food would not go to waste if a soldier had to spring into action mid-meal.
"A soldier is like an astronaut. Even in these seemingly inhumane conditions, it is still possible to provide, choose, and make everything so that it is not only tasty but also looks good and convenient," says Lyuba Shypovych, the vice president of Razom for Ukraine.
Packaged food is ready to eat immediately. One kilogram set contains three thousand calories. Currently, the Food Mission range includes five menu options, including both meat and vegetarian dishes, soups, cereals, breakfasts, energy bars, and dried fruits. Anyone can buy food for themselves in case of difficult times, or to give it to friends and relatives at the front. In this case, 10% of the cost of the product will be used to purchase such sets for the Ukrainian military.
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