Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Condor Engineer Bolo

I had a great time working with the Condor Engineer Bolo through my second home over at Woods Monkey.

Here's one of the pictures and some links to check out the rest of my review. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Condor Knife and Tool Engineer Bolo - Review

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A few updates..

I've been so busy with work and other things that this poor blog has been neglected for too long. Time to get back into the saddle!

I have some cool gear I'm checking out right now and will toss up reviews within the coming days. Until then, here's a few reviews I did recently for my other home over at Woods Monkey

Stay tuned for more good things to happen here at Hoosier Bushcraft and Outdoors. Thanks all!

- Bill

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gerber Steady - Field Report

I've been having fun with this little guy now for a few months and really like it's primary function of as a mini tripod. Leave it to the engineers at Gerber to come up with a tripod that also has twelve other useful components that will come in handy on a daily basis. While the tool is full of greatness, it does have a small downside in my opinion that I will chat about later. It's pretty small compared that what I like about it.

The Gerber Steady comes with a tough nylon case with a Velcro closure on both the front strap and the belt loop as well. There really isn't a whole lot to say about the case other than it's sturdy and should stand the test of time. I do like how the Steady sits down in the case and won't move around at all when adventuring in the woods, or just walking around town.

When opening the nylon sheath, you first see the tripods suction cup in it's own little pocket. The suction cup is held in place with a strip of elastic webbing and ides some effort, I could not get the cup to pop out of the sheath.

The Steady has about twelve different tools that can make anyone's life a little easier. To start with you have larger blade that is 1/4 serrated. With the Steady closed, you can easily access and open this blade with your thumb (I'm right-handed). On the same side, you also have smaller blade with a straight edge that you can use for smaller jobs. In the middle of same handle, you have a Phillips head screwdriver bit and the suction cup mount.

Along with the needle nose pliers, that also have a wire cutter built in, you also have two more screwdrivers bit (micro flat and medium) a bottle opener, an awl, and other items that will always come in handy. Here are the basic dimensions:

  • Height: 2.10 inches
  • Weight: 7.20 Ounces
  • Length: 4.90 inches
  • Width: 2.60 inches

The special function of the Gerber Steady is what I really like a lot. The tripod legs on the Steady fold out and allow you to customize the height easily The rubber coated feet on the legs can help eliminate slipping when using the tripod function on a slick surface. 

The thing I found very surprising was how well the suction cup worked on my smartphone! I have an HTC Incredible (first gen) and the suction cup worked great on the back of this phone. I'm surprised because the back of my phone is not perfectly smooth, but the suction cup was still able to grab onto the back of my phone and hold it until I was done. The great thing about the suction cup is the attached lever that you can use to secure a smartphone. It's a great design that works and is easy to use. If you brought your digital camera with you and want to use the Gerber Steady, just use the same screw that you would have for the suction cup and you're good to go. Note that you should only use your "point and click" camera on this tripod.

The one item that stops me from completely loving the the Gerber Steady is the fact that so much of the product is made out of plastic. While this is somewhat of a turn-off, I guess what you get in return is a lighter product that is also within reason price-wise. That's not bad at all! 

The Gerber Steady is going to be in my kit when I head out and need a small tripod for quick pictures. It's very adjustable, which really makes is useful and the array of other tools you get with it doesn't hurt as well.

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions. I've always been a big fan of Gerber ingenuity and having a lifetime warranty doesn't hurt as well . Thanks and be safe!

- Bill

Sunday, August 19, 2012

First Thoughts On The Teton Outfitter XXL Quick Tent

When I'm not sleeping in a Grand Trunk hammock at night while in the woods, I will at times enjoy a peaceful sleep in a tent. When on a solo trip, I usually don't take a tent with me and tend to just go with a tarp and hammock setup due to weight and the small amount of space they take up in/on my pack. After working with the Teton Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, I have found the one tent that I can easily carry around and comes loaded with features.

First off, this little tent is only 4lbs when packed up and ready for action. Now considering it comes with a full rainfly, multiple ground stakes, attached guy-lines and integrated frame, 4lbs is well worth the tiny amount of weight you will need to carry out. The carry bag comes with an integrated handle and a drawstring closure  and full instructions that are sewn into the inside of the bag. I have to say that after a full setup and take-down of the tent one time, I will never need the instructions again...this thing is a BREEZE to work with!

One you have removed the tent from the storage bag, it's a simple matter to lay the tent out flat on the ground and set aside the rain cover and bag of stakes. With the tent laid out flat, the first thing you do is to unfold the four arms on each corner. On the two longer arms, you need to also push them together after unfolding them so that they lock into place.

Once you have all four corners out, you simply pick up the center piece of tent by cord coming out of the top of the spreader base. With one hand, you apply enough pressure to the spreader base so that it stays in place, and with your other hand, you lift of on the cord.

You will then see the entire tent form on front of you with little to no effort at all. In the end, you should have something that looks like this:

That's literally all there is to it, you now have a shelter that will keep the bugs off you and one that offers you enough room from a full size sleeping bag and any other sleeping essential you may need. The dimensions for the tent itself are 6' 9"L x 3' 3"W x 2' 6"T. This offers plenty of space for one person to stretch out and relax.

The zipper on the door seems heavier than s standard tent zipper and as always, with Teton you get their easy-to-use zipper with an attached lanyard. (Sorry for the blurry picture)

The rainfly is incredible easy to attach to the tent. Just toss the fly over the tent, ensure you have the right side up (Teton can be seen on the side) and clip the four corners to the corners of the tent itself. Pull the straps to increase tension and you're done.

For added support, you can use the provided stakes to secure each of the four corners to the ground, as well as the provided guy lines. The front of the rainfly has a full length zipper and is also reinforced with a few strips of Velco to help keep water out and away from the zipper. The two flaps that make up the can be rolled up and secured to the door frame with the provided  "hook and loop" system in place. The same method of securing the rainfly doors is also in place at the bottom of the main door, should you ever want the door to be wide open and out of the way.

Now, I'm a 6'3 guy and I hate feeling cramped. First inspection revealed that I had nothing to fear with the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent. I'm also to stretch out full on my back, as well as sit up full without touching the sides. If you have a small enough pack, it can probably fit beside you in the tent, but my Teton Outfitter 4600 pack is just too big to be in there with me. I could use it for a pillow I guess, but that's what pack pillows are for :-)

In all, I am extremely pleased with this single person tent so far and plan to give further field reports on it as I go. After one time of setup and take down, you can get this tent set up in a matter of seconds. It actually takes longer to get it out of the bag ;-) A super huge thanks goes out to Teton for allowing me to check out this tent. I'm hooked on their products because the price is great and the quality is top notch.

Here are the full specs of the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, per Teton's website:

Dimensions: 6' 9"L x 3' 3"W x 2' 6"T
Pack Weight: 4 lbs
Capacity: 1 person
Shell: 75D Taffeta 2000MM PU
Doors: 1
Pole System: Quick–up System III
Color: Yellow–Orange

Also, this is a great company video that shows the easy setup and take-down of the Outfitter XXL.

Note that the first night spent in this tent, it rained and not a single drop got inside. The rainfly did it's job perfectly!

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any questions and keep an eye out for more updates and pictures of this tent in action.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gerber Reveal Folding Pruners

One thing I have never really cared for was packing out loppers to a campsite, or even around my own yard all that much. I'm a big fan of attaching anything and everything I can to my belt for easy transportation. When I saw the Gerber Reveal Folding Loppers online, I had to get my hands on one to try out and I'm sure happy that I did.

I'm a big fan of portability and these pruners are made with that idea in mind. Coming in at just 16 ounces, they are easy to haul around the campsite, or the backyard and you won't break a sweat. When closed, the pruners are an even 11" in length. The fit in the provided heavy nylon carry case easily. The case itself has a belt strap for attaching the whole unit to your body while working, as well as a Velcro closure to prevent the loppers from possibly sliding out while in the field.

I found that the sheath did a great job and was very durable and easy to clean up when necessary.

The pruners are made of stainless steel, so they are strong and durable at the same time. All of the moving parts are held together with stainless rivets that seem to be very strong, with a nut towards the top of the pruners that you can tighten should they need it. After a few hours of cutting up branches, the pruners never needed to be tightened once (or sharpened)

When it comes to cutting, these pruners are advertised at handling a 1 1/4" thick branch. In my testing, I found that they could handle that thickness, and even another quarter inch without much issue at all.

The handles are coated with a synthetic, non-slip grip that really does work well! This is one of the things that I really liked about these pruners was the grip on the handles. They have just enough texture so that while you are working, the handles stay put and you have full control the entire time.

In closing, I would say that these pruners would make a great addition to any backpack, or just attaching them to your belt when working in the yard. They are easy to fold and unfold, the sheath they come with is heavy duty and will wear very well and they cut anything from 1 1/2" with ease. With a price tag of just  $23.46 on Amazon (as of this posting), you really can't go wrong. Along with that, don't forget about Gerber's lifetime warranty. I look forward to years of use with these pruners.

Thanks for reading guys and please post if you have any questions of comments.

- BP

Friday, June 15, 2012

The ENO Pro Fly Tarp

I had a great time using the ENO Pro Fly recently and wanted to talk about it and share some pictures I took. As most of you who follow my little blog know, I'm primarily a hammock camper under all weather conditions and always rely on a tarp for shelter from the elements and anything else that falls out of the trees while "hanging out". I've used a lot of different tarps over time and literally destroyed a handful of them as well. The cheaper tarps seem to be a temporary solution and only last about 3-4 outings before they become useless, usually from an eyelet being pulled out from tension.

After going through my share of cheapie tarps, I wanted to step up and try out a few higher end tarps that are designed for rugged use and for a hammock at the same time. My favorite tarp this far is the Eagles Nest Outfitters Pro Fly. It's almost hard to call this a "tarp", but it does still fall in the category. Coming in at just 22oz, it's very light and easy to stuff into your pack next to your other gear. When packed in the included embossed stuff sack, it's about the same with around as a Nalgene water bottle and just slightly longer. The Stuff sack has a traditional cord lock on it which helps keep the tarp packed in night and tight.

The first time you pull the tarp out of the stuff sack, you find the ENO was nice enough to include some cordage for you to use when go to secure the corners down with stakes and the ends of the tarp to trees. The included rope is quite adequate for the job and also easy to see when it starts to get dark out. More than once have I been walking around camp at night and stumbled over my staked out cord ties.. not too fun.

One of the best features if this tarp is easily the tie-outs. The Pro Fly gives you six points (all four corners, plus the ends) The small tie-outs offer you the ability to tighten down the tension of your cord without having to tie knots. All you need to do is slide about 5-6 inches of cord though the outside hole on the tie out, then loop it over and down into the second. You can then adjust the tension with ease and the cord will stay put until you want to take the tarp down.

The tarp itself worked great for me and I really like it's features. Unfolded, it comes it at 10'6" x 6'4". This gives you plenty of coverage for your basic rainy day. It covers a standard hammock perfectly and with the larger width, it also protects your gear that you have stored under the hammock as well (at least, that's where I put most of it :) The material is made from a Poly-Treated Rip Stop Nylon, making it tough and waterproof. I have had the tarp out in a few storms, but nothing that would constitute a major downfall. The rain would just bead up and roll off. All of the seams are fully stitched and taped for added protection.

Setup and tear-down was quick and easy. I will say that it takes a little patience getting the tarp back into the the compression stuff sack each time, but after a few times, you learn how to do it without too much issue.

All in all, this is a fabulous tarp that I will continue to use and would recommend it to anyone interested in a quality rain-cover. It's a bit on the pricey side, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for :)

Retail: $79.99

Thanks for reading guys, more reviews and adventures coming very soon!

- Bill