Saturday, August 27, 2011

Condor Bushlore, Mini Review

OK, I admit it! I'm a big fan of Condor products, but it's for a good reason. I don't have hundreds of dollars sitting around that I can spend on custom knives and equipment. While shopping around, I found Condor's website and started to do some research on their products. I was generally impressed with most of the reviews that folks have done over time, but even more impressed at how well Condor was listening to their customers complaints and taking them to heart when working on future products

The 2011 lineup of Condor products is a clear example of customer service at its best. They have changed the design of their axes, going back to a more traditional style that is tried and true. Their various bush knives are now equipped with a sharp edge that goes down the entire length of knife to the handle, as opposed to earlier versions.

One knife that I recently had the chance to work with is the Condor Bushlore. I had a really good time working with it and had good results as well.

I was very happy with my initial impression of the Condor Bushlore. The knife arrived with a factory grind and from everything I have seen from past models, the 2011 model really makes the cut. Here are the quick specs on the Condor Bushlore::

Knife Length: 9 1/4 inches
Blade Length: 4 5/16 inches
Blade Width: 1 1/4 inches
Blade Thickness: 1/8 inches
Blade Material: 1075 carbon steel
Type of Tang: Full
Blade Grind: Single bevel with a convex edge
Handle Material: Walnut inlays
Sheath Material: Leather
Cost: $39.98 msrp(us$)

One thing that I really like about Condors' knife line is the leather sheath you get with each piece. You almost get that "hand sewn" feeling with each knife sheath when you hold and inspect it. I think the sheath alone could sell for $25 or better.

I was able to baton through small to medium sized logs without an issue at all (sorry for the lack of pics) With a few days of heavy use, This knife was still sharp and ready for field use. I don't see this model being a good tool to do super fine wood work with (hard to beat a Mora for that) but this guy will certainly handle any camp related work you can toss it's way.

The walnut grip feels really good in your hand, making standard chores easy to handle.  The lanyard hole is nice to have as well. 

In conclusion, I really don't have a  negative thing to say about the Bushlore. I will say one thing about the 1075 Carbon Steel...Don't let water sit on it for long or you will get rust spots. I was toying with this knife in the rain while I was out and didn't get it as dry as I had hoped. The next morning I had to buff out the spots. Live and learn, as they say :-) If I had to grade this knife, this is how I would do it.

Value:: 10
Durability:: 9
Edge Retention:: 8.5
Factory Sheath:: 9
Total Score:: 9

Take a look at Condor's site to check out the Bushlore and many more quality products.

Thanks for reading guys and I hope to add a lot more in the coming days. Be safe out there and let me know if you have any questions!
- Bill

Thursday, August 25, 2011

M.W.O.B . Daily

Pretty neat that my last review is featured in the M.W.O.B . Daily. Thanks Bushcrafting!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WatchFire Campers Hatchet Mini Review

So, I was out a few weeks ago with my wife and came across this little hatchet in a small shop. Of course anything with a blade catches my eye and combine that with the word "hatchet". I just had to check it out.

I purchased this little guy for $17.99 and tossed it in my pack to check it out when I got home. Here are the  basic specs on this campers hatchet.

10 Inches overall size
Weight: .085 pounds
Stainless steel black coated blade
Slip resistant handle
Includes nylon sheath
Brand name: WatchFire

I got home and tried to find ANYTHING on the web regarding the company WatchFire and couldn't find a thing, except for a few places that sold the hatchet. I decided to take it outside and give it a once over and try it out.

The sheath that came with the hatchet is just your basic nylon weave with a belt strap on the back and a Velcro closure. The belt loop is loosely sewn to the sheath and if it ever got caught on anything, it would probably tear away. I would either add additional stitching to the sheath, or just toss it in your pack before you head out

The grip on the handle is actually pretty nice and provides a comfortable non-slip rubberized texture to grab onto.

The blade came out of the box dull (to my standards), so I took my file to it and managed to get it razor sharp with a few swipes. The blade itself is 4 1/2 inches long and 1/8" thick. I out the hatchet to work and was able to do some minimal tasks without much effort. I certainly wouldn't trust my life on this hatchet and you won't be cutting down any giant oak trees with this tool, but it will work fine for cutting up sticks, kindling, smaller branches and similar items. Don't expect to take it out and intend to "blaze a trail through the jungle", you will be very disappointed. Bring your machete and standard hatchet for the larger tasks at hand and keep this little guy in your pack for a backup or for the smaller tasks I mentioned.

Let me know if you have any questions and if someone can actually find some info on WatchFire, send it my way! :) Thanks for reading guys!

- Bill 

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Little Mid-Summer Camping

How did two weeks slip by and I somehow didn't get anything in here. I was camping for 3-4 days and spent some quality time with my wife for a few. While camping, I managed to get a major sunburn on my back and shoulders (that will tech me for thinking sunblock will last longer than an hour when swimming with the family!)

I wanted to at least toss up a few pictures for folks to check out. I had a great time testing out my new Guide Gear 10x10' teepee and how well it would function with a few days of regular use. I was very impressed by it's performance! One night we had a huge storm roll through at about 2AM and not a single drop of water got inside the entire time. The taped seams and rain covers did an excellent job and the tight guy-lines I had staked out help the teepee in place perfectly. 

You can see in this picture how the rain was hitting the ground as it ran off the vent cover and splashed up some mud. It rained hard for about 10-15 minutes.

One thing I did to help out at night so I didn't kill myself on those long guy-lines was to tie some bright, thin orange pieces of ribbon on each line. I didn't think it would be all that fun to crawl out of the tent in the middle of the night to use the restroom only to fall on my face. It's likely I would have seen the lines with the headlamp, but this made it easier. 

There is so much room in this teepee, I actually had it set up and more cozy than my first apartment :) 

I also brought my Grand Trunk hammock with me and set it up, along with my trusty tarp. The more I set this up, the easier, and stronger it gets.

Along with me, I brought out my various Condor tools to work with and review. I will post more info on everything I worked with a little later on, but here are a few pics to keep you interested.

Along with the all of the nice Condor leather work that came with each item, I also had the chance to try out a custom JRE Industries sheath that not only looks amazing, but is very functional and built to last. More on this sheath later. Here's a few pics of both sheaths for comparing.

I have a lot more to post up, but just wanted to get something out for people to see. I am wrapping up some reviews and plan to add them to this site, and a few other places as well :) Thanks for reading and check back for more soon!
- Bill

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Muskrat Man Streetwalker

I want to thank Kaleb from Muskrat Man Custom Knives for allowing me to work with his custom tactical blade, The Streetwalker over the next five days while I am camping. This is a great looking blade with a fine scandi grind, nice straight handle and a kydex sheath that has multiple options for mounting or hanging.

Here's a quick picture I snapped last night. I'll have a lot more after camping this weekend and part of next week.

Thanks again Kaleb! Check out Muskrat Man Customs to see all of his blades.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hammock and Tarp Practice

It's been so hot out the last few weeks, it's pretty much a chore to stay outside for any length of time, unless your swimming or doing something that prevents the heat from melting you. Here in Indiana, we've had a few weeks with the heat index reaching over 100ยบ!

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that staying hydrated in this crazy heat is the most important thing if you plan to spend any amount of time in it. This coming weekend, I'm heading out for a week of camping with my family at the local lake (no matter what the weather!) I plan to bring out a lot of equipment to test out and review on the spot. Along with camping, some hiking and fishing will be on the menu as well. The few luxury things I'm bringing will allow me to continue and hopefully finish up existing reviews, such as the Guide Gear 10x10' teepee.

I wanted to do something this last weekend, so I just set up my hammock and worked with the tarp for a little while to prep for my week long trip. I don't really have any high branches in my backyard to hang a suitable guy line, so I had to improvise some and work with what I had. Here are a few pics.

Expect a ton of great (I hope great) posts with pictures to start this weekend and go into the following week!

You may remember my single side Gran Trunk Hammock from a previous post. I set up the same one yesterday  and I'm pleased how easy this hammock is to work with.

Triple stitching all around helps with the hammock strength.

The first thing I did was replace the S hooks with decent carabiners. I'm sure the S hooks would have worked, but I sleep just a little better knowing that there's no chance of the hammock slipping off of the strap.

The tarp setup was pretty messy, but it would work in a pinch. My backyard is very small, making it challenging to set up my gear.

Finally, for my friends at Woods Monkey, a little pic for you guys :-)

That's about it for this small post. the countdown is on for my vacation and come fun camping. Thanks for reading!