Archive for the ‘Gear Review’ Category

Fenix MC10 Anglelight

April 19, 2010

The Fenix MC10 Anglelight has become my favorite flashlight.  Out of the maybe 10 flashlights I own it’s my favorite.  Although it is expensive with a cost of around $50.   At 125 lumens on the highest setting it’s real bright.  The MC10 runs on only one AA battery.  You can’t put lithium batteries in it for some reason.  It is very small too with a 4″ length and width of maybe 1 1/2″. You know when you get a quality tool or a well made firearm?  You know how you can feel high quality engineering?  That’s the feeling this itsy bitsy light sends.  The particulars of why this pretty light won my heart:

  • It has a clip on it like the old GI anglelights.   Unlike the clips on the old Army lights though this clip is a real grabber.  The other nice feature that someone obviously thought of with the clip is that it turns a full 360′ around the flashlight.  This means that you can clip it to just about anything and turn the light to face in the direction you want.  Got that?  Because the clip rotates you can clip the light to the inside of a pocket so if it falls off it falls into your pocket.  Clip it to the inside of you jeans pocket, point it at the ground and both hands are still free.
  • The head of the light tilts from 45′ down to 45′ up.  So you can clip the light to your pack or a pocket and pivot the light down towards the trail or set it on the ground (yes it stands on its base) and point the light up at whatever you may be working on.
  • It’s waterproof to a degree.  It ain’t a dive light, but it won’t melt in the rain either.
  • It has a bunch of settings – high, medium and lo and then a sos and fast strobe.   Switching between settings is a little tough.   You first set the main function i.e. constant or strobe then you hold down the switch to change between the setting within that function.  Get that you hold it down to switch between settings.  Strange.
  • It has a built in metal loop so you can hang it and it also has a place where you could attach a lanyard.
  • The other kind of neat little feature is that it has sort of a lens cap that when you flip down diffuses the light from spotlight to flood.

Anyways, the MC10 is pretty small, very bright and adaptable to meet almost any need.  If I could only bring one flashlight and size was a factor (Anyone who says size isn’t a factor is a liar.  Haha.) this would be the light.  But ask me the same question bout a gun and it’d be my S&W 317.  In this picture here if you look closely you can see that the little lens cover light diffuser is flipped up.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

Went to a local farm where they have a section set up to nurse sick animals back to life and I saw this nice set of  hooters. It is a beautiful time of year in New England.  This a picture taken from the top of a little knob. It’s a big sky day.

You wouldn’t know it by looking but there are hundreds of thousands of people between here and the horizon.

Knife sheath

February 15, 2010

Natog over at TEOTWAWKIAIFF had a post a couple of months ago about a guy that makes aftermarket knife sheaths.  I have a Knives of Alaska Bush Camp knife.

Here’s the knife with the original sheath.  Nice knife and nice sheath.  It’s a good knife.  It has a nice thick D2 tool blade and a full tang.  It’s always done what I ask of it, but it came with a leather sheath.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a nice leather sheath. but leather cracks.  So I wanted to get something more durable.  On/Scene Tactical is the place for aftermarket sheaths.   He didn’t have a sheath for my knife so I had to send him the knife and he custom made a sheath for me.

I never bought a separate sheath for a knife before.   It cost $35.00, which is a lot of money for just a sheath.  Most of my knives cost less than $35.00.  The company is located in Canada so you need to fill out a special form at the Post Office.  It also took about two months for my new sheath to arrive.   This is the sheath I received from On/Scene Tactical.  It came with a belt clip that I attached to the sheath and an extra belt loop.

You change the belt clip/loop with the two phillips screws you see.  I like clips because I’m more likely to take the knife or gun with me if it’s sheath/holster has a clip.  If it’s easy to take, it will usually get taken.  I plan on attaching a  piece of cordura to the sheath to hold a firesteel.   You can see how I did it with my Rat3 here https://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/fire-steels/.

This seems like a much more rugged set up to me now.  It’s a great fit.  The knife will stay in the sheath upside down.  I knew that the knife would outlive me.  Now I have a sheath that should also outlast me.  On/Scene Tactical I have good stuff to say about them.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

Some Asian Bittersweet choking some bush on a bluebird day.  Look how blue that sky is.  Could anything be any bluer ever? And a nice trail. Aye?

This is pretty tough skiing.  So get off of your fat ass and walk around.   Get some exercise, some fresh air, blow the stink off of ya and get that old heart beating.

Fire steels

May 29, 2009

I just bought some firesteels off the Internet.  I got them from  Firesteel.com.  If you don’t know what a firesteel is, it’s basically a piece of a metal rod that when scraped makes a shower of sparks.  You take the edge or back of your knife or a scraper of some sort and kind of scrape it hard along the side of the firesteel at an angle and you’ll get some sparks.  The more practice the easier it is for you.  With one of these you can always get a fire going.  You know that you want to have multiple ways to start a fire.   A firesteel can be another tool in your fire starting kit.

Another good thing about firesteels is that they work even when wet.

p1010010I bought a set of five for I think $15.  One will go in the Get Home Bag, one in the camping Rubbermaids and I sewed one to my knife sheath.  Check it out.

p1010012I had some cordura cloth that I sewed into a little pocket just large enough to hold the firesteel firmly and I attached it to the sheath.  Pretty slick, huh?  I hope I never need to, but if I do need to desperately start a fire, the firesteel will make it easier than a fire bow.  I have been successful using firesteels to start fires.  You really need to use a different type of tinder when using a firestell though.  Lint, the stuff from a dryer, milkweed fluff, steel wool, cotton balls or something else that is light and fluffy will usually do the trick.

Like most guys, I like to start fires.  There is something very satisfying about starting a fire without using matches or a lighter.

If you buy some firesteels, like everything else, you need to practice using them before you depend on them.  So get some firesteels, put me in your tackle box, tool box, hunting kit or GHB and practice.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! Some of the reasons this is my favorite time of year, the days are still getting longer, flowers a blooming and the air is heavy with the sweet scent of flowers. Do you recognize this plant?  Maybe you have mallow growing in your garden.

16These are nice pictures of a Musk Mallow.  The leaves are edible and nutritious.  Like okra the plant contains a mucus that can thicken soups.  Leaf and root teas are used for coughs, bronchitis and as an anti-inflammatory.    A poultice can be put on wounds.

17Have you bought your own field guides yet?  What are you waiting for?  I just picked up a new one that someone recommended; thank you M.D. Creekmore.

Bore snakes

May 24, 2009

Away camping this weekend so short post.  Is it camping if you have a refrigerator, cable and a bathroom, but also have campfires, smores, cook over the fire and still kind of rough it?  Hope to go surfing later today.

I like bore snakes.  They make cleaning my firearms easier.  The problem is that you need a different size bore snake for each caliber you have.   I slide a wet patch through a couple of times, then a clean patch and then the bore snake. You can see from this nicely labeled picture that I found on the Internet…

Presentation1that is has a two floss areas, a brass bore brush built right in, a weight to help it slide through the barrel.  They fit good and snug too.  If you haven’t tried a bore snake, give it a go.  You should be able to pick one up for about 15 bucks.

Get Outside Everyday!!

P1010006This is Jack in the Pulpit.  Pretty distinctive, aye?

Water filter review

May 20, 2009

I bought a water filter called  the Pure Easy Camper’s Micro-Ceramic Filter.  The reason that I bought it was because of its diminutive size.    The filter only weighs three ounces and measures about 5 1/2″ * 1″ * 2 1/2″.  It will fit inside of a hardcase for sunglasses.  That’s pretty small. I wanted something that I could p6use when I want to travel really light.  I thought that a filter like this would be ideal for those one or two night solo camping trips.  When you don’t have a buddy to split the load with, you really need to pay attention to the weight of what you carry.

The other nice thing about this filter is that it filters down to .1 microns.  That’s about as an effective filter as I’ve seen.  The MSRs and Katadyns go down to maybe .2 microns.    I also thought it would be good in the Get Home or Bug Out Bag.   I paid $65.00 for it, which isn’t too bad for a filter.  It’s made from some sort of polymer.

So of course I had to try it out at home before depending upon it for a camping trip.  It was easy to assemble.  Not much to it really, just snap the tubes on.  The tubes are smaller than all of the other water filters that I’ve used.  The tubes are pretty much the same size as aquarium tubing, so you can’t pump a lot of water through them.p4

Here’s a shot of the filter with the tubes attached.  I should have placed a ruler next to it for scale, but remember it’s about the size of a pair of sunglasses. The intake tube has a little screen pre-filter on it.  It’s that little green triangular thing in the bottom left of the picture and it also has a float that you can slide up and down the tube to keep the pre-filter off of the bottom of the source of water that you are filtering.  It’s that kind of charcoal colored thing in the right side of the picture.

My first crack at filtering didn’t work out so well.  No matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to develop any suction.  I disassembled it, applied some silicon sealant and tried to prime it.  All to no avail.

I ended up sending it back to the manufacturer – Middleboro Water, LLC.  These folks were very responsive.  They said that they never had a manufacturing failure before.  They replaced it free of charge and FedExed the new filter to me free of charge.  Middleboro Water is a great company with great service.  Like I said no hassles (other than having to pay for postage there), no questions and I had the replacement filter within days.

Lesson here though, like I always say – is to try everything out before you depend on it.  Whether it’s ammo, a sleeping bag, stove, flashlight, firearm or a water filter.  You can’t depend on something if you haven’t tried it.

I tried the replacement filter in some stream water.   The  stream really wasn’t that dirty and I would consider drinking it untreated if need be – either let it settle in a container or dig a hole next to the stream and let the water perc up.  It did an adequate job, but I didn’t think the water tasted as “sweet” as an MSR filter.  This may improve with usage and time.  It also took an enormous amount of effort to get a glass of water, probably three minutes of pumping.  The pre-filter also clogs up pretty easily.  Next time I use it I think that I would tie a bandana around the pre-filter to act as a pre-pre-filter.  Strange enough, the collar that screws down to hold the pump handle in place kept coming loose while I was pumping.  Also, with just a little bit of use I could tell that the ceramic element was starting to get clogged i.e. it became increasingly more difficult to pump.

As you might expect due to this filter’s small bore and stroke, you have to pump a lot for the amount of water you get.  Not good for a group of thirsty people.  You have to pump maybe 200 times (although I wasn’t counting) to fill up a one liter bottle.  You have to pump much more with this filter than with other larger filters.  p7I’m thinking of replacing the aquarium type tubing with some wider surgical tubing with the hope of getting a better flow rate.

The filter also came with a nice little storage bag with pull ties on it, a little bit of sandpaper to clean the ceramic element with, some special silicone sealant and simple, easy to follow directions.

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It does disassemble very easily.  You just unscrew the collars and can pull up the pump handle and the ceramic element.  You can see how dirty the element got with minimal usage.  This is crap that you don’t want to drink.

All in all, the filter was a bit of a disappointment.  It will  get the job done, but it’s small size isn’t a big enough benefit to make up for its shortcomings.  I think that you are better off sticking to a normal size filterI like the concept and the company seems like a good company, but I would wait for the second generation to come out.  There are still a few kinks that need ironing out.  The company, Middleboro Water, LLC, did back up their product 100% so I would not hesitate to buy another of their products. Their service was also great.  I just think this particular filter needs a few more design improvements.

However, if you need to travel fast, light and solo the Pur Easy Camper may be the ticket for you, but make sure that you have a back up means to clean water too.

In summary, it’s a good filter for specialized purposes, (light and fast solo on foot travel) otherwise carry a larger filter.

Get outside everyday!

P1010101This little tree is a survivor.  Look at it growing through a crack in this rock.

And this was just a cool looking root that was all worn down.  It reminded me of a topo map.

p1010103

My favorite field guides

May 17, 2009

You gotta have a bunch of field guides.  There are field guides available on just about every subject of nature that you can imagine.  I have ones on: bats, animals, rocks and gems, birds, edible plants, medicinal plants, forests, different regions, plants and flowers and wildflowers. The Internet is also a huge resource.  I don’t know how we got by before The Googles were born.

When I walk in the fields and woods I’m always looking around, looking up and down.  If I see something that looks interesting to me and I don’t know what it is I’ll break off a branch or some leaves and bring it home to identify it.  If you do this too then you know that you need to have at least three or four field guides in order to be sure that you identified your subject correctly.

Some field guides will only show a plant when it’s flowering and many plants only flower for a week or two so if you want to identify it the other 50 weeks a year you may be out of luck.  Different field guides have different pictures or drawing and different descriptions.  That’s why it’s good to have a bunch of field guides, so you can cross reference.

One of my readers, (Yeah, I do have a few.) I thank each and everyone of you,  readership is the greatest form of flattery and I don’t ask you to buy my crap either.   Someone asked me to tell you what field guides I use so here it comes…

204670104Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants is by Wildman Steve Brill.  Mr. Brill is the guy that forages and gives classes how to forage Central Park, NYC.    Amazing how much wild food there is growing free and wild in Central Park.  There aren’t any color pictures in this book.  Heck, there aren’t any pictures at all, BUT there are good drawings.  This might not be a good first field guide to get, but it is large and the descriptions and uses of plants are great.  This guide is organized by season.  Mr. Brill is very straightforward he will tell you if a wild plant isn’t worth harvesting.  I particularly like some of the history of the plants that he tells the reader about.  There is even a section with recipes.  It’s 317 pages long and a big book maybe 8 1/2 * 11.

Angier Field GuideAngiers Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants doesn’t have any pcitures either, but the drawings are in color.  This guide is organized alphabetically, which isn’t a lot of help in identifying things, but that’s why you have have to familiarize yourself with all of your field guides, because then when you are walking you will see something that you recognize.  There are good descriptions in this book.  It is 255 pages long and small enough to put in a pack.

Eastern EdiblesGuide to Northeastern Wild Edibles by Kavasch has great color photos.  I think it’s out of print, but you can get used copies off of the Internet.  It is organized by season.  It has a handy feature, a ruler markings inside the back cover, not a big deal, but still a great addition.  It’s really a good guide.  This book is 64 pages and small enough to carry in a pack.

Audubon Eastern ForestsThis isn’t so much a field guide on edible plants as it is a general guide to different types of forests in the Eastern US of A, like Boreal, Transition, Deciduous, Oak-Hickory, etc.  It’s by the Audubon Society so it’s well written and the many, many color pictures are great.  For example, in the tree section there are color pictures of the trees and also drawings of the entire tree outline and the critter section has color pictures and maps to show where the critters reside to help ID them.  It’s 635 pages long and kind of big to carry backpacking for a distance.  Great for a day pack though because you can really have fun with it because all of the bases are covered: trees, birds, mammals, snakes, insects and spiders, mushrooms, wildflowers, butterflies and moths and amphibians.

New EnglandField Guide to New  England is another Audubon book.   This is a more specialized field guide as it is only for New England.  Although, I’m certain that many of the plants also grow near you too.  You can really learn alot about your natural surroundings from this book.  This book at 447 pages is small enough to pack with you.  Not a whole lot of info on edible stuff, but it’s a great all purpose field guide.  The pictures are great and there are multiple pictures on every page.  it’s broken up by: geology, habitats, conservation and ecology, weather (IDing clouds is pretty cool), the night sky (once again pretty cool), flora, invertebrates, vertebrates, park and preserves of the region.

The two coming up are probably the most useful to me.

Peterson EdiblePeterson field guides are good stuff.   In this one of Edible Wild Plants there is only a small section with color pictures, but there are a ton of very good black and white drawings.   If you don’t know what it is you’re looking at and you are trying to ID it the Peterson books make it easiest.  This one on edible plants is organized by: flowering plants, woody plants, miscellaneous plants, finding plants where and when they occur and food uses. The flower section is broken up by flower color and the woody plant section by type of leaf.  It also obviously tells you what parts of each plant is edible and how to prepare it.  If you need to forage this is definitely one book that you want to have. Each description also has symbols which makes it easy to tell a plant’s uses at a glance.  It’s 300 pages and small enough to pack.

Peterson MedicinalThe Peterson Field Guide of Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs has multiple color pictures on every page.  This Medicinal Plant field guide is organized by flower color, shrubs, trees, vines, ferns and grasses.   The good pictures make it easy to ID the plants.   Like the previous Peterson guide this one also uses symbols next to the descriptions to make it easy to see the uses.  The best part of this guide is the index to medical topics at the back of the book.  So if you have an ailment you can look it up and find a plant that may ease your symptoms.  The index by medical topic lists things like: abrasion, analgesic, anemia, anticancer, bites, dog, bleeding, blood purifier, carbuncles, cirrhosis, colds and you get the idea.  This book is another MUST HAVE.  It is 411 pages long and small enough to pack.

Get Outside Everyday and put your books into use.  I think the following two pictures are two types of wintergreen.  If you know for sure please let me know.

This I’m pretty sure is Wintergreen.  The next time I see it I’ll have to smell it.  It may be Pipsissiwa too.

P1010004

I looked this one up and I came up with Chickweed Wintergreen, but I’m not convinced.  It looked like Star of Bethlehem, but I know that’s not right.

P1010001