Sunday, July 31, 2011

Test Picture via Android Blogger


I'm just checking to see if this app really works. I'm practicing tarp and hammock hanging, just because I have the bug to get back to the woods and set something up. I'll post more tonight on the test setup when I'm at an actual computer :-)


Monday, July 25, 2011

My Larger EDC pack

Heya folks I wanted to just show you my EDC pack that goes with me daily. This is the pack that goes with me to work, when I'm driving or just going for a day trip.

A while back, my wife bought me a CamelBak H.A.W.G hydration system and it quickly became my pack of choice for EDC due to it's size, material and great quality.

In this pic, you see my shemagh scarf, great for keeping the bigs and sun away from you head and/or neck. You also see 50 feet of paracod weaved up and attached to the pack with a single S-Biner.





Those are pics of the pack when it's fully loaded. It's quite light and easy to load up. The pack itself was a little over $100 at the time and a great gift to receive. On one of the straps above, you can see my Spyderco Delica which sits very snug on that strap loop. the breath-ability of the back rest is very VERY good and deserves a lot of attention. The shoulder straps are heavily padded and both the inner straps and the back pads are padded meshed, so you won't get hot carrying this pack around.

As with most CamelBak's it has a nice water bladder compartment and a standard bladder. Something that is nice to have for carrying quick-access water.



In the secondary pouch on the front of the pack, the main thing I keep in there is my fire kit. This consists of a small Otter Box (I LOVE Otterboxes) a half-dozen Vaseline soaked cotton balls and my Survival Metrics Black Aurora Magnesium Fire Starter. This firesteel is amazingly easy to use, starts a fire with just about anything in seconds and is totally water tight. Here's a pic of this kit:




In the top small-water resistant pocket, I keep a nice multi-tool that serves many purposes.


Inside the main compartment is a whole slew of items what can save your life. Here are a few pics and I will list the items below with a little detail:





In the dark green bag is my camo poncho liner, the first thing that I ever bought when when I started to aquire gear. It's been all over the place and it's still in great shape.
http://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Military-Weather-Poncho-Blanket/dp/B001L0VX2W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1305492820&sr=1-2

The red bag holds some food, water purafication tabs, some TP and tissue

In the back, you have a 32oz Nalgene bottle and a slick GSI stainless steel bottle cup that you can cook with and eat with as well. Here's link to the cup:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LF3IB6

Also in the back is a cheapie Coleman rain poncho.

Up front, you have a basic, yet complete first aid kit in a military OD belt pouch. I added a lot of items to it. There is a decent compass, as well my Gerber folding saw with carry pouch. I've used this a few times when working on shelters and it really cuts well. It does seem a bit fragile, but I tend to take care when sawing and not go to crazy :)

Along with some extra clothes, you see my Gerber LMF-2 knife. In a rough survival situation, I would easily bet my life on this knives performance. I've used it to create basic shelters, split firewood, do numerous things around camp, clean fish, ect,. It comes with holes that can be used to to make a spear, so I have about 10 feet of paracod around the sheath in case it's needed for that purpose.

All of this fits into the CamelBak with a little room to spare. This is my larger EDC, I'll do a write-up on the smaller guy in the very near future. Thanks for reading!!!!

- Bill

P.S. If you want more detail on anything listed or something you see, leave a comment and I'll let you know :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bugs Are Out!

It's that time of year where hungry bugs are everywhere. I just go out into my backyard and I swear there's a few dozen mosquitoes sitting on the fence just waiting for me to come out so they can try to get a free snack.

In the woods, as most of you know, it's 50% worse then in your own yard (depending on where you live and what is around your house of course) and while there's plenty of ways to take precautions using chemicals and  other various man-made products like citronella, I found what I think is one of the best ways to keep the mosquitoes away. Your campfire is not only great for comfort, cooking and mental state, it's also great at keeping the little nasty's at bay to some extent.


A month back when I got away for some hammock camping in the deep woods of the Deam Wilderness, and found that the mosquitoes were insane with hunger. I did have some Deep Woods OFF with me and always use it on my boots and around my lower pants to help prevent ticks from hitching a ride home with me, but didn't on my upper torso. Even though it was still early in the day, I did some early gathering and got a full day and nights worth of dry tinder. With the Aurora firsteel and a bit of dry crushed leaves, I got a fire going in no time. When I'm alone, I almost always keep my fires small and well contained.



After the fire is established and I have some coals starting to build up, I like to add a few small green branches to the fire to produce a little more smoke than what is typically drifting out.

Even if you're not directly by the fire, just the heat alone seems to keep the worst of the mosquitoes at bay. In the direction the smoke is traveling, they are practically non-existent. being able to do some wood work, cook and just relax in a bug free zone is much more relaxing than smacking yourself over and over AND you don't need to hose yourself down with chemicals this way as well. I'm not saying you need to engulf yourself in a smoky campfire, just stick around it when you're ready to relax and you're set.



Sleeping in the hammock was a complete joy and bug free. The fire remained smoldering most of the night (with one session of adding some sticks around 5:00AM) so I was able to sleep without a bug net and enjoyed a swinging sleep all night long.




As always practicing safe campfire rules is the way to go and be sure your fire is completely extinguished before you leave camp. I always try my best to leave no trace behind that I was even in the area. This is a pic after I broke camp and was walking out. I wish I had a before pic, but it looks just like this.


In closing for the day, I leave you with a pic of a little guy that fell out of a tree and landed on my pant leg. Ticks are think this year so take all the necessary precautions against them as well.


Be safe campers!!!

- Bill

Monday, July 18, 2011

Early Review: Condor Greenland Pattern Hatchet

All of my life, I have never owned a decent hatchet or ax. I've always gone the cheap route and bought things from Walmart, Target or some other sporting goods store and by the end of camping season, I usually had an hatchet that was either loose, broken or so dull that you shouldn't cut through warm butter.

I've been shopping around a bit and wanted to buy something good this year, but knew that I couldn't afford a Wetterlings or a Gränsfors Bruks. I still wanted to get something with a quality build that should last me for a while. I came back to the same company I got the Bushcraft Basic 4" knife from, Condor.

After looking at their wide selection, I decided to pick up their Greenland Pattern Hatchet. I ordered the ax a few days back and it arrived today via USPS. Condor takes pride in packing their tools and I was suprised to open the box and find everything secured with various ties, plastic for protection and cardboard to hold the larger parts in place.



When I first pulled out the hatchet, I was immediately suprised at the thickness of the handle and could feel the quality. This wasn't going to be a $10, hanging on the hook at Target hatchet. Just like their bushcraft (and many other knife lines) The Greenland hatchet came with an excellent leather cover that wraps around the ax head for full blade coverage. The leather is full and thick and feels like it can take some abuse.




The overall length of the hatchet is 16 1/4 " with a weight right at about 2lbs. The handle is smooth and stained, giving it a rich feel and appearance. The bottom of the handle has a lanyard hole, something I plan to take advantage of soon :)



The ax head itself is made from a 1045 high carbon steel. the blade was surprisingly sharp right out of the box with no need for a sharpening,,, just yet. The blade thickness for this model is 1.5 lbs. The head doesn't look very thick and I know that from the dozens of reviews I have read around the web on other axes, you want a little more width to your hatchet. i will just have to see how this performs. I will do a second part to this review after I take it out later in the week and get some work done :)




Anyway, more to come later on. Thus far, my eyes are very pleased! Thanks for reading!

- Bill

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Early Review: Guide Gear 10x10' Teepee Tent

Even though it's over 90° outside and the humidity is high, I couldn't wait to set up the new teepee/tent that I got through the Sportsman's Guide. Here is what I purchased:

What: A Gear Guide 10x10' Teepee/Tent - LINK
Where: The Sportsman's Guide (Link above)
Price: $89.97
Shipping: UPS Ground
Re-seller Video:



The teepee arrived within three days of purchase and two days ahead of UPS's estimated time arrival, good start so far! I'm not a huge fan of USP due to some trashed boxes I have received in the past from them, but I think they are getting better and this box arrived in good shape.

The folks at the Sportsman's Guide packed the box very well and included a full catalog of their inventory and a ton of other ads, as well as a few coupons for future purchases. Within the shipping box, was another box that has the actual tent in it. Due to the price, I wasn't sure if I would find the tent just folded up i the box, or contained in some sort of bag. to my surprise, I pulled out a nice carry bag with handles and a heavy zipper.
The bag is made of the same material as the tent, which I found out later to be great.



Unzipping the carry bag, I found the tee-pee all rolled up tight, as well as the instructions for assembly. If I had to pick one thing that stood out as poor, it would have been the instructions.. I didn't have that much of a problem getting through it, but when it say's "assemble and take down the tent before using it for camping to become familiar with it" they mean it :-) 





Following the instructions, I unrolled the tee-pee and found the center poll in it's own sack, along with two dozen aluminum tent stakes. I couldn't believe I would need so many stakes, but found out later that they are necessary when you want to prop open vent covers and stake out the guy lines.





I staked out the entire tent, unzipped both doors and then put in the center poll that came with the tee-pee. The pole assembles easily with the chain on the inside to hold it together. On the top of the center poll is a point that you are supposed to insert into an existing grommet at the top-middle of the tee-pee. Along with that is a small rubber tip that you can put on for added support. There's also a white base for the poll; I managed to forget about that when assembling the tee-pee, but it didn't seem to matter in the end.




The longest part of the assembly was staking the guy line out. There are ten lines all together and staking them is pretty straight forward, but it takes a little time when you first do it. Once they are all staked, the center pole is in and the base is staked, you have what I consider a great tee-pee, especially for the price! I've read a lot of reviews on this tee-pee and people complained that the floor wasn't attached all the way, but used buckles to fully attach to the tent in eight different places. I must have received a newer model because the floor is permantley attached to the tent and everything zips up 100% tight so that bugs and other creepie-crawlies cannot get in at all. 



All together there are four large air vents (two per side) on the bottom wall. They have included outside covers that can be zipped and velcroed down to the outside wall. If you want the covers part-way open, they have guy lines that you can stake out for a partial opening. You can also roll the covers up all the way and use the clasp that is attached to the tent to hold the door up all the way. I think Guide Gear worked hard on this design and included a lot of little extras. 





Above the side vents are plastic windows that are taped and sealed. There are inside covers for each window that you can tie down with the included bungie cords and eyelets, or role them up the same way you can with the vent covers. 


The tee-pee has two doors, both have a bug screen and a main door and zips up completely so that you won't get any surprises crawling into your sleeping bag at 3:00AM.


The top of the tee-pee has another vent that comes with an attachable rain cover. The cover has it's own guy-lines that attach to the main lines on the side of the tee-pee so you can pull them tight. The floor is the same basic tarp-material plastic weave that a lot of tents use. If you use common sense on the floor, it will last the life of the tee-pee.



I thought that the inside was very roomy and offered tons of space. If you wanted to to, you should squeeze in 5-6 people...5 people and some gear would be a tight fit, but manageable. You can see that I tossed in my cot and one of my sleeping bags to gauge the fit. I was surprised with how much space you have. It's only 10x10', but it's like a small studio for one person :)




All in all, I'm very happy with this purchase. I'm going to take this tee-pee with me when I go camping with my extended camping between the week of August 8-12 and see how it holds up. I prefer hammock camping most of the time, but I want to try this tee-pee out, as well as a bunch of other equipment and I can talk about them as well.

Early thoughts....

Pros:
-- Price. 
-- Carry bag and bags for all parts.
-- Taped seams. 
-- Windows and vents are a plus
-- Spacious.

Cons:
-- Instructions are sub-par.
-- Lots of guy-lines to stake out (don't set this up in the dark!)
-- Lines are a tad cheap. May replace with paracord.

I will post more thoughts and pics on this tee-pee when I get some real experience with it in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading and please post any questions or thoughts below!

- Bill


Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Ready - TGIF!

Hi Folks,
Well, it's finally Friday and I'm ready to get out into the woods again! I'm hoping that I can get the things done at home early so I can go out and maybe get some fishing in, or another good hike. The weather here is great right now at 84° with low humidity and blue skies.

I wanted to thank Randy Haskins who runs the blog MWOB. He was kind enough to mention my little blog here in his daily posting here. Thank you for the mention sir!

I have a family camping trip coming up in August that will involve some hiking, fishing, working with knives and axes, with a lot of bushcrafting tossed in. We will be camping right at the edge of Lake Monroe with boat access and near a nice swimming hole. I hope to do a lot of blogging with my phone since I have a pretty good cell signal out there.

More info on Lake Monroe can be found at - http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2954.htm

More tomorrow guys. Thanks again for reading !!

- Bill

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day to Day Gear

Today I wanted to share with you a few tools like like to take out with me when I go on a hike, or camp. It always depends on how long I'm going to be out and the location I'm going, but there are a few items that are constants.


I typically carry two knives out with me, my SOG Trident Tanto knife that stays in my pocket and the Condor Bushcraft Basic 4".



Both knives have proven to be very reliable and cost effective at the same time. I also carry out a stone for in-field sharpening when needed. I've beat up that Condor knife pretty good and it still seems to be as sturdy as the day I got it.

When I want to bring a tomahawk out for throwing if just simple woodwork, I bring my modified Cold Steel Rifleman's Hawk.


I'll go into the changes I made to this hawk later on, but it didn't need them when it arrived in terms of function and quality. There are other hawks out there that cost a lot more, but I'm a fella on a budget, so i get what I can afford.


For the one day hikes, my like to carry out my leather satchel and my small CamelBak H.A.W.G pack. My entire 10-piece kit fits in the backpack, with room for a few others things like spare meds and other smaller items. In the satchel, I carry my cooking items, food and some spare water.





All in all, very basic, but still to the point. A little later on, I will talk about the individual pieces in my small kit and  talk about my big pack for multi-day outings. That's all the time I have for now, thanks for reading!!

- Bill

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hike 9/9/11

Hi Folks!
((Sorry about the low quality pics, I forgot my camera at home and had to use my cellphone..))


On Saturday, July 9th, I had the chance to get out of the house for a few hours and go on a decent four mile hike around a local lake called Griffy and was able to get some decent pictures and cook a small meal while out on the trail.

With me, I took my basic ten piece kit and a few other things. I brought a bag of rice with some Cajun spices added to it for flavor. For basic defense, I just brought my Cold Steel Kukri Magnum and my always trusty Condor Bushcraft Basic 4" knife. This is a very mild trail so I wasn't worried at all.

I didn't see a whole lot of wildlife, but here is what I did see and made note of:

4 - Deer
18 - Squirrels
2 - Chipmunks
1- Lizard (small brown)

Not counting the various insects and birds, it was a quiet walk. I did pass a few people along the way, but due to the high heat (it was about 90 degrees) it was somewhat quiet.


When I got to the mid-point of the trail, I found a clearing that used to be for either horses or cattle. There was some old barbwire fence pieces laying on the ground, but nothing in the overgrown field. I assume it is no long used by the property owner and may even belong to the state now.

I cut off the trail to the left and went a few hundred feet into the woods. I could tell that nobody had been out there for a while due to the overgrowth and the lack of disturbance of the area. A short ways in, I found a nice spot where I could drop my small pack and satchel for a break and get lunch going.

We have had a lot of big storms over the last three months and the pot I found had a few large fallen trees that had been split open by nature. This made for a little table and a nice area to set up a little temporary camp.

For cooking, I bought along my Swiss Volcano Stove and used a few cups of water from the 32ox Nalegene bottle I bought along. I had used the stove one time before in my own yard and it worked just as well this time as it did previously. Thankfully, there was a ton of dried sticks on the ground that made the perfect fuel for this stove. To light it, I used my Survival Metrics Auora firesteel and a few cotton balls. I managed to get the fire going on the first strike ((love this fire steel)) and the stove took off. Here is a few pics from start to the finish of lunch. It was very relaxing and nice to sit back and enjoy nature for a while.

After a good filling of rice, I hiked back to the main trail and started my trek back to my truck. I passed a few people along the way and saw a few more squirrels, but that was about it. It was great to just get out and breath some fresh air and enjoy the afternoon. Here are some more pics of the walk back and at the bottom, I will link to to the entire picture archive. My next post will be about my gear; everything from my EDC pack, to what I bring out to the woods for a multi-day trip. Thanks for reading and subscribe if you like where I'm going with this blog!

Entire Picture Archive
- Bill