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The Ruger Powder Keg and Follow Through

By Luke C.

I got my first Ruger 10/22 when I was 9 years old. Seriously, what on earth was my Dad thinking? I wouldn’t have trusted a 9 year old version of myself with a pointy stick. But now, over 25 years later, that plucky little rifle is ticking along like a Swiss watch. Ruger just doesn’t get involved in the junk products game, and their new knife line is nothing different. They have recently teamed up with the folks at Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) to bring a fantastic line of knives to market. The fixed blade Powder Keg and the folding Follow-Through will be reviewed here.

Let’s start off with the fixed blade Powder Keg. The Powder Keg is Ruger’s drop point, full tang, survival knife. They call it a ‘Pro-Point,’ but let’s be honest with ourselves, we know a drop point when we see it. The steel is 8Cr13MoV steel, a stainless with pretty good wear resistance at a decent price. The stock comes in at 3/16 inch thick, and is nicely finished with a black stonewash finish. I have no clue what the finish is, but it’s not the thick epoxy like coatings you sometimes see. This doesn’t seem to negatively affect cutting performance at all. It’s very similar to an anodizing on aluminum, but try as I might, I couldn’t nail it down.

The blade is 4 ½ inches in length, hollow ground, and came nearly shaving sharp. A couple of minutes on a charged leather strop and it was popping hair off my arm. The handles are rubber slabs bolted through the tang with large hardware. This is somewhere a potential buyer might get confused. Ruger calls it “Overmold.” While it might be one type of polymer overmolded on another, they are not overmolded to the tang of the knife. The tang is fully exposed on the edge and spine sides through the knife’s entire length. At the front end of the handle is a small bump for a finger guard. In use, the small guard proved comfortable and unobtrusive. Seeing as how the Powder Keg was designed by the guys from RMJ Tactical, the home of the coolest tactical tomahawks, the resemblance to their 37 Sale Creek knife is unsurprising. At just a tick under $70, the Powder Keg is more than $300 less than the 37 Sale Creek. It is a great value.

The sheath is fantastic.  I am fond of well built leather, and this one is built exceptionally well for anything anywhere near this price point.  It is a deep pocket, pancake style, built of quality leather.  The stitching is saddle stitched and the rivets are perfectly done.  You can carry this and look sharp with no fear of the knife coming loose.  The rivets will let you tie it onto any kit you so desire.  The welt is made of what seems like a heavily wax impregnated leather.  It would fool you to thinking it was plastic, but it isn’t.  The leather came pretty light, unstained in any way.  I hit it with several coats of SnoSeal and it turned the perfect medium brown.

At the mouth of the sheath, there are two tabs, wings sort of, that protrude just a bit. I really like this, it really sets off the shape and helps hold the knife vertical. I carried this in a M4 magazine pouch on my chest rig during some training for work, and the knife never moved. While out in the field on time off I carried this knife almost exclusively in my back pocket. Trust me when I say this, this knife is perfect for this. It feels like a normal wallet, and the tabs hold it upright and ready. The belt loop fits a belt up to 1 ½ inches and keeps the knife snug to the body. The spine of the Powder Keg threw good sparks from my Swedish fire steel, so I have no doubt it would handle things in poor conditions. The full tang, sweeping edge, and thick stock batoned through dry and wet Aspen without an issue. The Powder Keg is heavy enough to get the job done, but comfortable enough to carry so that it will actually be there when you need it.

I recently came into, thanks to a kitchen remodel, a city block sized pile of cardboard. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but honestly not by much. The Powder Keg went to work. I broke down flat packed, and tore apart enough cardboard to fill a 5’x12′ enclosed trailer. Add in all the packaging, plastic, shrink wrap, old flooring, and sheetrock, and the Powder Keg took apart enough medium to fill that trailer twice. Good grief is right. While the 8Cr13MoV isn’t a wonder steel, it got the job done. I sharpened it 4 to 5 times during that process, all done with a ceramic rod. Every time it popped back to sharp. Once it was all done, I started on a fine stone, moved to the ceramic rod, and finished with charged leather. It got back shaving without any nicks or dings to notice.

For a sub $70 knife, designed by a crew that makes ‘hawks for serious operators and brought to market by guys in the business of Ruger quality guns and well built CRKT knives, it’d be a perfect companion on our next outing.

Let’s move on to the Follow-Through. No, not the famous corner on the coolest race track ever, the Ruger Follow-Through folder. This is a liner lock folder that deploys via the flipper on the back. No thumb studs, no opening holes, just the flipper. Pretty simple, really. The Follow-Through is made from the same 8Cr13MoV steel as the Powder Keg, and nearly as long. The blade comes in at 3 ¾ inches and is satin stone washed smooth. The shape is what Ruger describes as a drop point with a flat back. I think that’s spot on.

The Follow-Through is a liner lock and mine centers up perfectly in the handle. The flipper is easy to operate and I was even able to deploy the knife and unlock it with light mechanic style gloves on. It will also inertia open with a flick of the wrist. Pretty cool party trick, but not something I’d do around fine art or new wood floors. This is possible because the blade rotates on something called an IKBS ball bearing. I’m impressed with it. Like Fletch says, “It’s all ball bearings these days.” Go look that one up, bucko. You’ll thank me.

The scales are polymer and checkered ala 1911 scales. Two large diamonds where the screw holes are and fine checkering everywhere else. The shape is very comfortable and what’s awesome is the sort of jimping on the skinny sides of the handles. They’re not quite jimping actually, more scallops, but smooth and deep. They really serve to lock the knife in the hand. The Follow-Through was designed by Matthew Lerch, and a quick search of his site revealed a strikingly similar knife. If it works for the high end world of custom knives, it’ll work for you. And for under $50, it’ll work well.

The clip is tip up only, and reversible for left or right hand carry. It holds extremely strong. So strong, that if I carried it in pants with a reinforced pocket lip, it was hard to get out. After two weeks of carry that broke in fine. After using it normally for a few weeks, I got to thinking. I wondered if the holes in the blade would lend themselves to working with the zip tie trick. This is where you tighten a small zip tie extremely tight through an opening hold on a folder. If you put the ‘lock’ of the zip tie to the outward side while carrying, you create a sort of poor man’s Emerson Wave type feature. Off to the garage I went, and sure enough, it works perfectly. Cinch a zip tie down on the Follow-Through and you’ve got a one hand opener that snaps open when you draw it from your pocket. It takes a little practice, but with a slight twist on the draw, it pops the blade open. When I discovered that, the Follow-Through stayed with me for over a month.

The Follow-Through is a great knife for those looking for something that won’t break the bank. The steel is pretty good, tempered well, and the knife is put together for traction in slippery conditions. If you’re looking for a knife that comes in on the larger side, take a look at the Ruger Follow-Through. The in hand comfort and ease of opening might just fit the bill.

 

You can find the Ruger Powder Keg and Follow Through at CRKT Knives.

 

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Book Review: Rugosa by Creek Stewart

Rugosa by Creek Stewart

Book Review by Jeff “Venture” Fournier

Note: the reviewer was given an advanced copy to review which will be given away in a future contest.

Many a survival manual is dry and boring. Sure, the information is good and the text clear about the techniques, but if it doesn’t engage you, it won’t be read. Some people are a little tone deaf to survival skills as well and don’t see how they could be practical. On the other end, Survival Fiction is a growing genre with many flashy and improbable characters who only loosely practice survival skills the author might have gleaned from reading a few manuals or watching a YouTube video or three. Creek Stewart’s new survival fiction book Rugosa answers that conundrum in an interesting way.

For those who want to know, the author Creek Stewart is a survival teacher and woodsman operating out of Indiana. He has his own survival school Willow Haven Outdoors (http://willowhavenoutdoor.com), several nonfiction books on preparedness, and even had an instructional survival T.V. show on the Weather Channel. He has extensive background in scouting as well as time in the woods doing what he teaches. Experience is his teacher with his thousands of hours learning in the woods as a student himself. Recently he has released his own line of knives and wilderness cutting tools, Whiskey Knives, available on his website. None of these seem trivial or untested and the quality of an American made blade shines through just looking at them.

With all the knowledge of survival and off grid living in tough times it seems to be an easy leap to writing about them, and Creek’s six previous manuals cover everything from bugout bags to vehicles. Why not do a survival themed story showing off the techniques in use?

Because it’s hard to pull off correctly!

That is the best part of Rugosa in my opinion. It nails that sweet spot like splitting a log with an ax in one blow. Creek Stewart could have easily swung the book to one extreme of the spectrum or the other. A dry story with lifeless characters and predictable outcomes might show survival skills flawlessly executed and instructed but not be very interesting. On the other extreme a character and melodrama heavy piece glosses over the nuts and bolts you need to get right to make the suspension of disbelief happen in a story. Rugosa splits that line and takes you in for a great ride. The story gives you some practical examples of survival strategies while interweaving them in a fast moving story to keep you engaged. You will never eat a jar of homemade Grape Jelly lightly again!

At its heart it’s a love story, but not a sappy romance. The main character Omaha is a seventeen year old living in a declining and all but conquered near future America with his mother and sister. He is in love with a girl named London. When she moves away to live in Philadelphia for a time he realizes his feelings for her and longs for her to return. Shortly after coming to this realization he receives word that the city is about to be cut off and destroyed. Armed only with his survival skills and a few basic items he sets off to travel the 400 miles to get her out past the blockade and back to his family’s survival retreat.

Omaha was raised as a Boy Scout by his family and trained in survival by his father and grandfather. There are many scenes in the book where he uses his skills and woods knowledge to track, hunt, forage and travel his way through all the hazards of his dangerous world. Along with a few basic primers in what to carry, what to avoid doing, the novel also gives you a great deal of hints on tying all of your skills together. Omaha’s greatest asset is his ability to stop and think when it is needed. Many times he is guided by lessons he remembers from his Special Forces trained father and his Native American grandfather. Coupled with his skills and ability to improvise as the situation calls for it, he has quite a ride. If you like outdoor classics like Hatchet you will see a nice parallel.

As good fiction, the book would give you a great weekend’s reading. Not too big to take to camp and it would be well received by readers of many backgrounds. Boy Scouts will enjoy the fact that the protagonist is one of their own, using Scout skills and values to practical effect. Even the average woodsman or hunter will enjoy the hunting and survival scenes that move the story along. Soldiers and the like will appreciate the harrowing combat and the fact that the story has a strong view of Veterans and their story of service and honor as a running theme.

I believe the story is aimed at general audiences but would be great for teens that would enjoy The Hunger Games or other dystopian future type stories. There is a bit of violence and killing as Omaha has to come to terms with the evil of the regime he is struggling against to rescue London and get back home. It’s a grim lesson but one that is also hard to get across to people who have never encountered it before. Creek Stewart does it well and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.

Rugosa by Creek Stewart can be found on Amazon.

 

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The Olight R20 Javelot Rechargeable Flashlight

 

 

 

OLight: Three Rechargeable Light Reviews

Part 2: R20 Javelot Rechargeable

By Mike Bondra

Hello, again, flashlight fans. Here is my second installment of a three part review. To recap, the OLight models that will go through the rigors will be the palm sized S10R Baton II, the traditional sized R20 Javelot, and the beefy SRMINI Intimidator II. All three are excellent examples of the CREE-based flashlights currently available today, and each of these have unique features that help them stand out in a crowd.

Today, I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the R20 Javelot Rechargeable flashlight. As the name indicates, this light comes with a single OLight 18650 battery, as well as a lanyard and micro-USB charging cable. The current MSRP is $59.95, and a smart online shopper can find them new for about $50.00. A word of caution regarding online shopping – the R20 Javelot Rechargeable is the only model I found in my research to have the batteries removed. I didn’t find any indication of blatant fraud, but read the sellers fine print, especially where the price seems too good to be true, because it may not include the battery.

After I opened up the box and began my initial inspection, something caught my eye. I’m a big proponent of craftsmanship in everything you do. Sure, when I was young I loved duct tape and kludging. Over time (and my own maturity) I realized that there was more value in a repair that did more than get thing functioning, and a thing built is better for the aesthetics than its pure function. I look of the little practical improvements, and I was happy with the details put into this light right out of the box. My old eyes have a bit of trouble with threading needles now, but I had no issue with placing the lanyard’s anchoring string due to the slight cut out on the reveres side of the rear access hole. More than just a countersink, there is a small indentation that makes catching the string as it pokes through the rear casing. Sure, it would have been possible without this, but the fact that the designers thought, ‘how can we make this one act better’ says a lot about their attention to detail.

My initial impressions firmly set, I began to explore the rest of the R20 Javelot Rechargeable. A good solid light made of aircraft grade aluminum, and coated with Type II hardened anodizing, it has a comfortable feel in the hand.

As stated, the light is recharged in a similar fashion to its peers via a micro-USB cable. In the case of the R20 Javelot Rechargeable, the charging portal is found under a collar near the top of the light. This collar has gaskets and screws securely in place, and provides a great seal against the elements, and probably momentary submersion. Okay, I’m SURE it provides a good seal against momentary submersion, since I accidentally fumbled and dropped mine while I was taking it out of my pocket, and it splashed down into a puddle. Again, that’s yet another reason you should always use your lanyard. After about 2 hours, the 18650 battery was fully charged, and I took it out into the back yard for my unofficial testing.

The R20 Javelot Rechargeable has the activation button on the rear of the light, like many of its competitors. This medium sized flashlight, at approximately 5 ¼ inches long by 1 ¼ inches in diameter, packs a whole lot of power in that size. The Cree XP-L Hi LED single light has three settings the user can cycle through. The highest setting is the first one that is enabled upon pressing the power button, and is designed to put out 900 lumens for 2 ½ hours of operation. The medium and low setting produce 100 lumens / 11 hours and 10 lumens / 100 hours respectively. As I’ve said before, statistics don’t mean much to me, but real world usage does. I took the R20 Javelot Rechargeable into my back yard and cast the light to try to read a ‘5’ I had printed on 8 ½ x 11 paper, at about 100 yards. The number was visible at that distance, no problem. The LED generated beam was concise and didn’t’ scatter over the distance, but it was about at the maximum for the light. There were a few detractors with the lighting configuration and set up. As with its ‘big brother’ the SRMINI Intimidator II, there was no ‘moonlight’ setting. This setting is designed to produce a very subtle light, good enough to walk by, and greatly enhances the battery life. Also, there is no memory function to the R20 Javelot Rechargeable, so the user is forced to cycle through from High, Medium, to Low. This can be annoying, especially if you have night adjusted eyes and have to deal with the sudden glare of the initial setting. Finally, there is no strobe feature to the light. This is not marketed as a ‘tactical’ flashlight, and I don’t really consider this a significant issue, but I felt it should be pointed out.

Those points covered, I really enjoyed using this light during my tinkering around the place, and while camping. In my shop and poking around the darkened places in our house and garage, it worked perfectly. I had no problem with colors washing out, and the less intense settings made return glare easy to manage. I particularly liked the size. It wasn’t too long or bulky, and not so small that I felt I would drop it and never find it again. We also took this light with us on our annual family camping adventure, and it got a lot of use tromping around the woods and fields. The lack of a moonlight setting did produce some after images after shutting it down, but the large 18650 battery held its charge for an entire week, with juice to spare.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the performance and features of the R20 Javelot Rechargeable. A good tight beam and long life make for a very reliable workhorse of a light, and one that will perform again and again with less recharging time than others of its size.

Find this light at www.goinggear.com

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Beretta NEOS Review

With all the choices available my thought of finding a suitable woods or camp gun became a daunting task.  I wasn’t looking for ultimate stopping power or tactical flash. My criteria was pretty simple; versatile, inexpensive fun, and reasonable weight.  Wondering through the SHOT 2012 show I found what I was looking for. The Beretta Neos U22 pistol!

Left SideAA

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Olight SRMINI Intimidator II

OLight: Three Rechargeable Light Reviews

Part 1: SRMINI Intimidator II

By Mike Bondra

I have had the good fortune to review three OLight flashlights, and this will be the first installment of a three part review. The models that will go through the rigors will be the palm sized S10R Baton II, the traditional sized R20 Javelot, and the beefy SRMINI Intimidator II. All three are excellent examples of the CREE-based flashlights currently available today, and each of these have unique features that help them stand out in a crowd.

I’m going to start out with the biggest and the baddest looking of the three. The SRMINI Intimidator II is a high performance light in both output and durability. It arrived in a case that looks like it could hold a 1911 comfortably (I measured; it would be a bit tight.) In addition to the SRMINI Intimidator II, my kit came with a Micro-USB charging cable, lanyard, and holster. The MSRP of this package is $129.95, and you can find them discounted online for around $100.00 if you do some research for a better deal. There is another package choice that also includes the light, three OLight 18650 batteries, and a USB Vehicle Power Adapter.

srimini-box

Unpacking the case, I was first struck by the shape and design of the light. The body of the light is black Type III hard anodized aluminum, with generous cuts to provide a secure grip. On the front of the light is a thick stainless steel bezel. This prevents damage to the lens if it happens to fall face down, and has a very aggressive look. The lens design is heavy acrylic that includes a cross hatched pattern which provides for a more even beam delivery from the three CREE XM-L2 LED lights. The flat tail cap allows the light to be placed face up to stand by itself for area illumination. The overall dimensions are 5 ¼ inches in length, and 1 7/8th inches in diameter, and just shy of 15 ounces with batteries.

The SRMINI Intimidator II looks like a light saber from Star Wars, and is darn close to one in brightness. While I wasn’t able to cut a hole through my garage door with it, I could sure see everything in the garage in pitch black. After trying it out for the first time, I’m pretty sure my first deer-spotting light I got in the mid-80’s had less candle power than this thing! There are four settings that can be selected and a strobe as well. I’ll get into the details of the intensities in a moment. This bad boy is definitely not made for rattling around in your tool box, but treated like fine instrumentation.

As I mentioned earlier, my SRMINI Intimidator II package did not come with batteries. Of course, actual 18650 OLight batteries are available online (for around $35.00 for a two pack), however my patience was non-existent after opening up the case. I needed to light this up and see what fun I could have. After a bit of research online, I discovered that there was an alternative to the OLight 18650 batteries from an unexpected market. eCigarettes have raised the demand for 18650 style batteries, and therefore can be found at most big-box electronics stores. A word of caution: do the research and get the best voltage/amps for the light. The inferior ones won’t work as well and will end up being a waste of your money.

srimini-accys

 

The SRMINI Intimidator II functions as its own recharging station by connecting the Micro-US to a laptop, PC, or other USB configured power source. It took me 6 hours to get from manufacturer empty to fully charged. There is a port on the side which is accessible via a slide door, and a charging indicator light that turns from red to green when charging is completed. I love the idea that I don’t need to remove and replace batteries when they are used up, however I will say that I found the slide door to be a disappointment. The manner in which it is mounted seems to allow water through. I would be very concerned turning it on after accidentally submerging it without first completely drying the charging port. Although if you dropped it in more than a shallow stream, you’re going to have to be awfully fast to grab it before it is claimed by the deep. That is the second reason I used the lanyard on the SRMINI Intimidator II. The main reason I had the lanyard secured to my wrist was the light’s weight and aggressive tactical-like bezel. Frankly, I didn’t want to accidentally drop this on my foot. I imagine that would do a number on my leather boots, not to mention the poor toes within.

Now usually this would be the point in the review where we go over the technical details on the light output of the flashlight. In other articles, those are the spots my eyes glide right over, and I’m not going to subject you to that. If you really want to find out the lumens and candle values, go ahead and browse the internet. For me, I just want to know how the light will work in the real world, and over the years I have come up with three simple tests. First, is how well the light will work inside the shop as a task helper. Secondly, how well it will work when I’m trying to navigate in a dark forest or other outside setting. And finally, how far the beam will cast, and how well you can use it for long distance spotting.

srimini-in-hand

Using the SRMINI Intimidator II in the shop was the first test I performed, and there were some unexpected results. The light will cycle through three settings (low, medium, and high) and the last selected setting is held in memory for the next time you use the light. There is also a strobe feature and a ‘Turbo’ setting that is the most powerful. I tried out all four settings (not the strobe) in my workshop / garage. Both the Turbo and High settings were great for whole room illumination by setting the light on its base in the middle of the floor. The reflected light was good enough for me to read manuals, and identify the color of wires. The only issue I had was these highest settings naturally come with a high battery consumption rate, and makes the barrel of the light pretty darn warm! Also, neither setting was at all good for close up work. While holding the light on ‘High’ and trying to use it to illuminate my drill press, the reflected light was too bright for comfort. Of course, that’s like saying a Ferrari can’t hold more that 3 bags of mushroom manure on the passenger’s seat (meaning; why the heck would you use a sports car to haul manure). The ‘low’ and ‘medium’ settings worked just fine for close up work, and were what I used the most when in the shop.

The second test was stomping around the woods near my house. The three CREE XM-L2 lights made a wide beam that was perfect for illuminating snags and trips at medium and low settings. High setting was great for spotting things at a distance – no more ‘wonder what made that stick break’ questions. I was tempted to try the strobe on a raccoon, but I’m not that kind of guy. Again, it is heavier that most hand held lights, but that’s the trade off for the brightness. I accidentally turned it off while wearing gloves, but easily found the switch again. Interestingly enough, I didn’t’ realize how night blind I had become from the reflection on the medium setting! I waited about 40 heartbeats until I saw the stars clearly, and walked back to the house on low.

For my final test, I wanted to see how far the light would cast for practical use. Following the example set by a friend, I printed out a great big ‘5’ in black on a normal letter sized sheet of paper. The size of the final number is about 6 inches high and 3 inches wide. I then tack the paper up on a tree on the back of my property, and see if I can read if from my back porch, which is about 300 feet away. As I’ve said before, I’m all about the practical.

So on a moonless night in early spring, I took the SRMINI Intimidator II out on my back porch to ‘see what I could see’. Boy, could I ever see! The beam cast out by the three CREE XM-L2 lights on the Turbo setting looked like a pipe of white slicing through the air. The first thing that I noticed was the amount of vapor in the air that evening. For the same reason you shouldn’t use high beam lights in the fog, the super bright beam illuminated all of the mist in the air. Even still, there was no mistaking the clear ‘5’ on the tree. I could easily make out bark patterns well into the tree line for another few dozen yards, until the trees became too thick to discern one from another. Reducing the setting to ‘high’ allowed the same level of detail on my target sign, and also reduced the scatter from the air vapor. In fact, I was having so much fun, I completely ran out the batteries, which brought to light another minor fault. There is no ‘warning mode’ that some other flashlights have that alerts you to impending battery failure. Boy-howdy is the world a dark place when you go from Turbo to nothing! A moonlight setting to both conserve battery and act as a warning level would be my suggestion for future models.

srimini-w-charging-port

If you’re looking for a light that packs a punch and can let you spot things way out there, then the SRMINI Intimidator II is the light for you. A thick beam with a wide variety of intensity settings will perform well for about any task. Just remember that like any other high performance piece of equipment, you need to be mindful of energy consumption, and keep your charger cable handy. If you are working into the evening hours outside, or going on a long weekend camping trip, this hefty light is all that you need.
Find the Olight SRMINI Intimidator II at www.goinggear.com

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The Olight S2 Baton

By Jon Adams

As an avid outdoorsman and woodsman, I am always looking for gear that is actually useful. Lights are among the items most not thought about, unused, forgotten or lost. This is mostly due to the thinking “It’s just a light, any old torch will work.” However, lighting is one of the most needed items to carry for a variety of tasks or situations.

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I received the Olight S2 Baton to try out. At first glance, before opening the package, I thought “Yeah, just another run of the mill so called EDC light.” Once the package was opened, and the Olight in hand, I began to see that this was not just another gimmick light. The construction felt solid and after some use I found that this is a torch that won’t be easily broken. The machined textured knurled aluminum held my fingers to the light with ease of movement in the hand. The lens was recessed to keep scratches and breakage at bay. The body is a sleek one size diameter the full length of the light (no ups and downs for a so called tactical look) which to me made it easy to use; even though it has tactical attributes and can be used as such in my opinion.

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The Olight has five brightness settings: (1) off, (2) dim, (3) bright, (4) brighter, and (5) sun! The selector is a little different than most lights that you have to click the on/off button or flip a switch, and usually only have 4 settings of: off, on, bright, and/or strobe. These are usually located on the body, or bottom of the battery cap that are bulky and cause accidental ons. With the S2 Baton, you just turn on and hold the button and the S2 will cycle through the settings allowing you to choose which one is best or needed for your situation or task. Very slick with great cycle timing. The S2 baton has a sleek button to turn it on/off near the top of the tube body, which is for the most part flush with a micron of rubber protruding from the surface covering a recessed button to eliminate accidentally turning it on. The only drawback I have with the on/off switch is trying to find it in the dark by feel. For me this is an aggravating task at times, but the S2 Baton works so well that this didn’t bother me too much.

A word of caution when using the S2 baton on what I call the sun brightness setting ; the lens and tubeIMG_2947 body can get extremely hot ,and I don’t recommend using the S2 Baton at the two brightest settings for extended periods of time; they are meant for short use. I have used the S2 baton to literally start fires in the bush, using leaves and char cloth as fuel, and I got an ember very fast. A feature I accidentally found that I like. Redundancy in fire starting is a good thing as far as being prepared for an unexpected survival situation, and just happen to have available because it’s in your EDC(every day carry). Don’t leave it on and put it in your pocket, ouch!

The S2, as you can see in the photos comes with an EDC pocket clip which has a good amount of retention. This keeps the S2 from coming out of your pocket or off of your hat during hands free use. Speaking of hands free use, the S2 Baton also has a strong magnet located on the bottom of the battery cap/lid; which comes in handy when working around vehicles, work shop, under appliances, etc.

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After a couple months of literally every day/night use by me and my five year old daughter; this S2 baton Olight has made my permanent EDC until I find something better, which will most likely be another S series Baton by Olight. A great, straight forward tool.

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The Olight S2 Baton retails for $54.95.
You can find the Olight S2 at www.goinggear.com 

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The Spyderco Proficient

By Christopher Warden

Family camping season is now in full swing and rather than spending time alone in the woods practicing bushcraft skills and chasing whitetails, my weekends will be spent at campgrounds chasing my kids around the playground and pool and carving pot hooks while sitting under the awning of my camper. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need a good knife with me. I was looking for a knife that was just as capable cutting up steak and vegetables, as it was at fire prep, and one that required as little maintenance as possible. I decided to look to the Spyderco Proficient to fit the bill.

DSC_0865

At first glance the Proficient, looks almost like a full flat grind Spyderco Bushcraft model, and rightfully so. Both Spyderco models were designed by wilderness expert Chris Claycomb of Bushcraft U.K. Both knives are 8.75 inches long, and have superbly contoured handles. They also share the ambidextrous black leather pouch sheath. This is where the obvious similarities end and the differences that make the Proficient stand out in the crowd become obvious.

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Immediately I noticed the black space age solid carbon fiber scales. They are sleek, polished, and have a slight classic coke-bottle contour. Carbon fiber knife scales have a reputation as being light weight, strong, but also brittle with regards to impact resistance. The Proficient’s scales had a fair amount of heft to them, giving the blade a light and nimble feeling in the hand. Strong, you bet; brittle, not even a bit. While batoning wood for camp fires, the Proficient needed to be rescued a few times. With a well placed wallop on the tang and scales, she was free, none the worse for wear.

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While the Spyderco Proficient’s bushcraft lineage is quite evident, it steps out of that comfort zone with its blade shape and design. It has a drop point blade, rather than a spear point, and a full flat grind, rather than a Scandinavian grind found in more traditional bushcraft blades. This blade shape inDSC_0872 DSC_0886combination with the full flat grind make the Proficient well suited for many everyday and typical bush tasks. The Proficient has a v grind secondary bevel. I found it a little obtuse for making feather sticks, but serviceable, even on seasoned oak. The bevel was strong enough to hold up to pretty heavy batoning and indispensable in helping me harvest fat wood from a pine log. The tip, although thin and very pointy, was strong and made splitting kindling a breeze. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite knife for fire craft, but it was proficient (see what I did there.) Where this full flat grind and v bevel really shined were on those everyday tasks like breaking down cardboard boxes, opening toy packaging, cutting cordage, and food prep. The Spyderco Proficient made butterflying a whole chicken and trimming steaks fun and sliced onions so easy I didn’t even cry.

Another departure from its bushcraft roots is the use of stainless steel. Crucible Particle Metallurgy s90v is similar in toughness and corrosion resistance to 440c and D2, but has a much greater wear resistance. What that means for us average knife-a-holics is a tough steel that doesn’t need oiled all the time and has a long lasting keen edge. Over two months of use, I oiled and stropped the Proficient one time. Any food prep that I did for testing, blade clean up after was only done with soap and water, and to be quite honest sometimes not even at all. Onions and steaks that I have cut up with O1 tool steel blades in the past have almost instantly created a patina on the blade. The Spyderco Proficient looks just as pretty as the day it came out of the box.

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Proficient, competent or skilled at doing something, is a pretty simple but explanatory name for this offering from Spyderco. Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you’re looking to pick one up for yourself. Stainless CPM s90v steel is definitely a little tougher to sharpen in the field than high carbon steels like O1 and 1095, so keep a strop or ceramic honing rod in your kit to keep that edge really keen. You’ll have some extra room since you might not need that can of oil. There is a plastic insert in the ambidextrous pouch style sheath, and I found it a bit tricky sheathing the Proficient several times while on my belt and trying to navigate my tactical muffin top (yes it’s a fat joke.) I overcame that problem by wearing the Proficient in a neck carry fashion by simply threading some paracord through two of the six grommet holes in the sheath. It is a little on the large side for knives that I like to neck carry, but still light enough that I didn’t find it uncomfortable. You just may want to remove the insert or add your own dangler attachment. With a four inch cutting edge and four and one half inch handle, it might be a bit on the small side if you have extra large hands.

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If you’re looking to get your hands on a Spyderco Proficient head over to spyderco.com and check it out. Don’t let yourself have sticker shock with an MSRP of $489.95. It is a small king’s ransom, but expected for the up charge in carbon fiber scale material and CPM s90v stainless super steel. With a little practice of the ancient art of Google Fu, you can find a more reasonable price of $293.97 over on bladehq.com. For an all around low maintenance bushcraft and camp knife, check out the Spyderco Proficient, jack of all trades and master of some.

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Visit www.spyderco.com fore more information on the Proficient.

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The UCO Leschi Lantern + Flashlight

The UCO Leschi Lantern + Flashlight

By Bob NevesIMG_0762

As someone who frequently goes camping, backpacking and spends time outdoors, I’m always looking for the newest gear of good quality. The UCO Leschi lantern is a great little light for the money. It is small and weighs very little at 1.6 ounces without the battery. It gives off a good beam when used as a flashlight and the size is just about perfect for use in the tent or on a picnic table as a lantern.

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For use as a flashlight just turn it on with the light in its smallest closed configuration. To use the light as a lantern pull the reflector out from the main tube shaped body and the light expands revealing the clear plastic to illuminate the area.

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It is a 110-lumen light and the size to weight ratio for hanging in a tent worked great. It runs on one AA battery with IMG_0766an IPX rating of 5. The light has three modes. Low which is 34 lumens with a run time of 4 hours, high which is 110 lumens with a run time of 2 ½ hours, and strobe which will run for approximately 7 hours.

I appreciate the intention of the light, which was designed in the United States but manufactured in China. The quality of construction is not bad, but not great either. It is of plastic construction, which I would label as good. Not as robust as an aluminum design. I tested this light for a few weeks since receiving it and dropped it a few times but I did not abuse the light.  As for all weather testing yes it took splashes, it got wet and continued to function in damp conditions.

 

I ran the light on the low mode for over two hours without any issues. The light has a good O-ring to seal out moisture but I did not fully submerge the light in water. I like the light for its versatility size and weight. You can put it in your pocket or pack, hang it inside a tent or out with the included tethered bungee. The elastic bungee attached to the light works great with mounting the light in a variety of positions for hands free use. The tether is made of small bungee/elastic cord, which is permanently attached to the side of the light on one end, and the other end is removable to secure the light to objects such as sticks, packs, tree limbs, tent loops etc.

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The Leschi can be used as a one light option for minimalists and lightweight backpackers or it could be used as a backup light in conjunction with a headlamp or a larger lantern. One negative item to note, which I found bothersome, was the silicone tail cap mode sensitivity. It was very easy, too easy to switch between low, high, and strobe. One feature, which would be helpful for UCO to add, would be memory of last mode used. Currently the light runs through the modes so when you turn it off the next time you turn it on it switches to the next mode.

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Accidents happen and sometimes gear is lost while on trips in the wilderness or elsewhere. You will not be at a big loss financially if you lose this little guy like you would with similar more expensive lights. I enjoyed this UCO light; the positives far outweigh the few minor negatives. Yes, there are much better responsive clicky switches on the market and a memory for the mode selected would be appreciated but for the money all in all this little light can’t be beat especially if you are on a budget. It retails for $14.95.

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Find the Leschi Lantern + Flashlight at UCO: http://ucogear.com/leschi-lantern-flashlight.html

 

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Blade Show 2016 Photos

We had a great time at The Blade Show this year. Click through the gallery to see all of the cool things we got to see!

 

 

 


		
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Campfire Cookbook Review

Review by Stefanie Bondra

 

Camping is a wonderful pastime. Fresh air, nature, sunshine, and nights around the fire are something everyone should try to experience. Whatever the images are that leap to mind when camping is mentioned, the one question we all ask is: “What are we going to eat?”  While you can get by with GORP, trail mix, and “hot dog on a stick”; I say, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?” If it is all you have, absolutely, eat it. Then find civilization, because you aren’t going to last long on just that. If, however, you are planning a day, weekend or longer (like I do) you are going to plan meals and pack for the adventure.

The Campfire Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott (Thunder Bay Press) meets this basic need of life, and while trail mixes are included, it is not the only offering. From foil packet suppers, to zabaglione and snacks in between, there are recipes sure to please most palates. Though the cover of the book says “eating well in the wild”, it is worth noting that this book is not simply a camping cookbook. Rather it is a cookbook and mini guide to camping in one.

The first thing you will note about this book is its plastic zippered cover. A great idea for a camping book, as things tend to get wet; whether it be from dew overnight, a spilled cup or pot, or the sudden rain cloud floating by your campsite. The book can be removed from its protective cover, which is nice because plenty of times, I’ve spilled right on top of my cookbook. Being able to remove the cover to clean behind the plastic, is a nice touch. Another idea is to store extra recipes in the jacket flaps inside the cover.

Inside the book is divided into four parts: “Way to Go”, “Campside Kitchen”, “Get Set…Pack”, and the actual recipe section. The first section is an overview of camping etiquette such as, leave nothing but footprints. I’m sure seasoned campers realize this, but some are not and so it bears repeating. This section also includes an overview of basic weather forecasting, such as what the different cloud formations look like and what type of weather is common with their presence.  Other “tells”, such as a heavy dew in the morning, usually indicating a dry day is something I never knew until this book.

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While I thought the recipes would be my favorite part of this book, I’m finding that it actually ties with the section on nutrition. The Philpott’s cover the calorie needs of an adult taking part in various activities as a starting point.  They go on to say that energy requirements on your trip will determine the level of calories you should consume. Continuing on, they touch on what types of ingredients a diet should contain (Protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and that combining them properly fuels your body for better performance.  They also mention the importance of increasing your fluid (water) intake, which many neglect while out and about. I know that in the group we camp with in the summer, it’s something we are constantly reminding each other about, because dehydration is really not pleasant.  Speaking of dehydrating- the last part of this section is a good beginner guide to dehydrating foods.  They even cover dehydrating in a conventional oven, which is super helpful. I don’t have the room for another kitchen gadget.

Campside Kitchen covers how and where to set up your kitchen. Considering things like shade, light, storage and cooking methods are introduced first. From backpacking stoves to Dutch oven cooking (my preference); the Philpott’s do a great job of briefly explaining a few methods to give you options, for example, a backpacking stove is great for a short, one man trip, while the Dutch oven lends itself more to the static camp. This section also touches lightly on foraging, fishing, finding natural water, and some tips about what to avoid eating. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it is sound advice.

“Essential equipment” for the camp cook is also covered. Understanding that what kind of method you use to cook your food can affect what utensils you will need is helpful so one does not over or under pack. Of course, you can get by with only a knife, pot and spoon (for a solo trip), but if you know you will be camping, why not be prepared?  Maybe that will be the only things you require, but I know when I camp, that is definitely not the case.

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“Get Set…..Pack” is final section before diving into the actual recipes. Packing is covered-not just food, but sleeping bags, tents and food. My favorite thing is included here-lists! I am a great believer in writing things down. Pen to paper, engaging the senses to encourage memory growth. That and I can be super forgetful in the frenzy to get ready. These lists are not meant to be packed in their entirety-rather it is meant as a reminder for the things that we may or may not think about packing. Anyone ever forget their toothbrush because you just “weren’t thinking about it?” yeah….me neither. Sample menus and pack lists finish this section.

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Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for- the meat and potatoes (see what I did there?) of the book. This could be another whole article reviewing the recipes included (there are about 80). The common things are definitely included (trail mix, foil packets, and bannock) and while they are mainstays of the camping tradition, there are many other meals that are just as easy to add into your repertoire.

 

It is worth mentioning that while most of these recipes can be made at camp, some should be made at home for brevity’s sake. Make the granola, energy bars and cookies before you leave. In addition, every recipe states if it requires an “at home” component in addition to the “at camp” directions. The directions are very well laid out and easy to follow.

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Some of my favorite recipes are the breakfast casserole, curry couscous, goulash, and jambalaya. With the exception of the couscous, they all include a protein, carb, and some fat, so they are great to eat at any time of the day. Our camp usually has a “leftover” cooler, so sometimes there is jambalaya for breakfast-but not for long.  Also, the tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad is super delicious. It reminds me of tabbouleh without the bulgur wheat.

One thing I saw was the inclusion of “boil in bag” recipes, like “scrambled eggs n’ coffee (page 68). I have never cooked anything in a plastic bag, so like anyone these days, I “googled” it.  For as many folks out there that use thick zipper close bags, there are as many that say “ACK! Never do that!” Even a name brand zipper bag recommends NOT using the bags to boil food. I wracked my brain because I know boil-in-bag rice is a thing. I haven’t used it, but I know it exists. So back to the internet. I found that one online site sells “boil-able bags”, but they weren’t cheap.  I pondered and wondered for about a week. Then I had to go to the store for more vacuum seal food bags and when I opened them, eureka! Right on the bag it said, freeze, microwave, BOIL! So, your local big-box, blue (or red) department-type store probably sells them in the kitchen/housewares aisle.  What a relief, you can make your scrambled eggs in a bag without worry now. You are welcome.

I have to say that I have not tried all the recipes in the book. I am not big on fish and lamb is really expensive here, but as with most cooking (not baking) recipes proteins can be swapped, carbs exchanged, and spices substituted with abandon. As I always say, “add what you like, leave out what you don’t”.

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The authors have numerous years of experience under their belts. Both as travelers and with writing books on food, drink, and travel.  At an MSRP of $15.95 and as low as $11 online, cookbook and guide in one, this little book packs a mighty punch. Practical tips, techniques and a substantial amount of recipes are just a few reasons to add this book to your collection.

Visit Thunder Bay Press for more info.

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