Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three favorite items

I was tagged by the weekend woodsman to share my three favorite items so after some careful consideration, I narrowed it down.  For me, my favorite items are the ones that I get the most use out of and offer great versatility wherever I am. 

First item is perhaps the most simple, Canteen Cup.  I like it the more I use it and keep finding things to use it for.  It's a metal cup/bowl so you can melt snow, boil water, cook your soup/oatmeal etc., make your coffee/tea, you can bake with it when covered with a lid or foil, collect water, cover it tight with foil and make charcloth in the field,  many more uses are out there.  Feel free to share unique ideas you've tried as well.  I like carrying a canteen so this folds up and carries without notice for me.  Great addition to your kit if you don't already have one or another metal cup of some kind.

Next up is my Wetterlings Large Hunter's Axe.  This is just a good axe to have.  Fits my needs in my region perfect.  I don't need a boy's axe size where I am as the winters just aren't that bad.  This axe handles my woodchore needs perfectly and carries easy.  This is a high quality tool that is very well made.  The steel is great and holds an edge for a long time.  I chose this over a knife as my favorite because it is as sharp as a knife and a sharp axe can substitute as a knife much better than a knife can substitute as an axe.  So this cutting tool is more versatile.  Atleast to me in my hands it is.  The poll makes a great hammer as well in the field.  So it gets the nod as my favorite cutting tool.

Next up is an item that I really appreciate.  It's not something that is on every journey but certainly has a place in my heart for what it brings, my canoe.  If you haven't tried a canoe I would highly recommend doing so.  I have my most enjoyable outings in it.  There's just something to a view from the water.  Whether it's a sunrise, sunset, reflection of some beautiful scenery.  It makes for effortless travel.  You can cover serious distance in a hurry without expending much energy.  Taking you farther into the wilderness and away from civilization.  You can take items you like to use but don't like to carry on your back.  The canoe also makes a great lean-to shelter.  You can tip it at a 45 degree angle and use a tarp and you have a nice weather/wind proof shelter made pretty much anywhere you find yourself.  You don't have to find the perfect tree or even cut poles.  It's a very good shelter once you get the setup down.  Another benefit to canoe travel is how close you can get to wildlife.  Hiking you scare away a lot of animals.  Canoeing you can get pretty close and most of the time animals aren't alarmed when seeing you from the water.  I have some close encounters I will never forget from the canoe.  All in all it's just the most peaceful and relaxing way to take in the outdoors and highly recommend trying it out if haven't had the chance.

 I'm tagging The Trying Woodsman and SurviaLogic and Wood Trekker next for their three favorite items.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Smith's Diamond Combination Sharpener

Keeping our sharp tools sharp is very important to keeping them performing at a high level.  At home this is an easy task.  You have oils, stones, etc.  Everything is right there.  Now taking all that with you in the field is another story.  Especially when weight and size is an issue.  I have tried a few small sharpeners in my time.  And I have finally found one I really like.  The Smith's Diamond Combination Sharpener.
I have used this one for over a year now and it has been one of the best additions to my gear bag.  Here are some specs from Smith's website:

Collapsed Size:     4" x 1"
Dual sided, Coarse(325 grit)/Fine(750 grit)
Fish hook sharpening groove
Finger guard
Cost:   around $15-20

First thing to clear up is the size.  The handle is 4 inches, but the total collapsed length is 6.25 inches.  The length of the sharpening surface is just under 4 inches, about 3 7/8".  Still a compact size though that is easy to carry in your pack.

One of my favorite things about this sharpener is you can use it dry, with water, or oil lubricant.  I have tried all three and they are all effective.  Most of the time in the field you don't need a full blown sharpening session.  Quick touch-ups here and there are all you need and this is perfect for that.  Now with that said you could do some heavy sharpening with it if you needed it to.

The main pros of this sharpener is how compact it is, and that it's dual sided.  The diamond stone works well for high carbon steels and stainless steels making it great for your knives and axes.  It has put a very sharp edge on all my knives and axes.  The handle is rubber and provides a secure grip.  This does not slide around when using it.  Even if your hands are wet or sweaty.   The stone attachment stays secured to the handle.  I haven't had any issues with the stone part coming loose when attached to the handle.  I don't really have any cons I can think of.  If it were bigger it wouldn't be as handy for field carry, so that would defeat the purpose of it being an ideal field sharpener.  Overall I would highly recommend this sharpener for field carry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nessmuk Trio

I carried a Nessmuk Trio long before I knew it was a "Nessmuk Trio".  Most of us probably did.  The variations we see today vary greatly from what George Sears (Nessmuk)carried.  But Nessmuk believed his trio would allow him to accomplish pretty much any outdoor task.  So that should be the basis of everyone's trio.  What three tools do you have confidence in to accomplish any outdoors task you will be faced with?  That's what you should ask yourself when selecting your trio of tools.

Traditionally it's a hatchet or small axe, a fixed blade knife, and a folding pocket knife.  In Nessmuk's time this was about as varied as it got for tool selection.  Today we find ourselves with much more options.  The two constants you see today are the hatchet or small axe or hawk, a fixed blade knife, and the third tool is what we see a lot of variance on.  Some stick with the traditional folding pocket knife, others like a folding saw, and some prefer a multi-tool or necker knife, etc.  The best option will be different for everyone.  My kit has changed quite a bit over the years but I wanted to share my two trio sets that I used the most.
As our gear kits evolve so do our Nessmuk Trio's.  My first Nessmuk Trio consisted of a True Temper Hatchet(It came with a black fiberglass handle that I rehandled with a hickory handle), a Case Leather Hunter, and my Leatherman Supertool.

I carried this trio for many years and it served me well.  After time the things I started to realize I wanted was the ability for a two handed swing if needed from my axe. And for better edge retention from both my knife and hatchet. 
So that brings me to my next and current Nessmuk Trio that has evolved to some higher quality tools that perform very well for me in the bush.  A Wetterlings Large Hunter's axe, a custom Kephart/Drop point styled fixed blade knife from C3 Knives, and still my Leatherman Supertool.

What I've noticed the most when upgrading my kit isn't that I can now perform more tasks necessarily.  But that I can perform the same task more efficiently.  The slightly longer handle of the hunters axe allows for more powerful swings, allowing it to chop and split much better than my hatchet.  The steel holds it's edge better so it needs less sharpening.  The knife I now carry has better steel as well so I don't need to sharpen it as much either.  While I don't baton heavy with my knife, this one can certainly take that abuse if the need arises.  Also the steel of this knife works well with a ferro rod.  The multi-tool is just a great array of versatility that I just can't leave behind.

Like all kits the preference for change will arise from time to time.  As we use gear we realize it's triumphs and shortcomings.  And if the shortcomings are weighed heavily enough an upgrade will be necessary.  Only experience will tell you what the best option is and that decision can only be made by the user.  But I believe George had it right.  Three tools offer the right amount of versatility without being a burden to carry.  So if you haven't done so already, identify your Nessmuk Trio, and put it through the the paces on your ventures.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My first knife

"First's"  are always a big deal in life.  You typically never forget them.  First fish, first camping trip, first gun, first knife, firs car, first game kill, etc.  This could go on for awhile.  I have been able to hang on to a couple of my first tools that got me started into bushcraft by means of hunting.  My first knife was a Buck 110 Folding Hunter.

It was the only knife I carried for the better part of a decade.  It cleaned my first deer, rabbit, squirrel, pheasant and many more of the same.  It has been a constant companion and I am rather pleased that through all the journeys I haven't lost it. I still take it for small game and bird hunts.  It carries on the hip easy and the 420C steel still takes a razor edge with little effort.  This was an excellent first knife choice by the old man.  I look forward to many more years of use and maybe one day it will be one cool family heirloom with many stories to tell.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A piece of Vintage Fishing Gear

There's just something nostalgic about using vintage gear.  No matter what it is or for, it's like combining two different time periods into one.  You are a using a piece of history in today's world and there's just something very rewarding in that.  When a piece of vintage gear has some family history to it, well it's just that much more special to use.  You have a piece of that relative with you and in a small way they are on the journey experiencing it with you.

I often wonder the stories old gear items could tell us if they could.  More often than not, most outdoor enthusiasts carry a piece of vintage gear and most of the time it's a family heirloom of some kind.  Whether your hunting, fishing, hiking, there's always a place for a vintage piece of gear to have with you.

Here's one vintage piece of fishing gear that belonged to my wife's grandfather.  An Ambassadeur 5000 reel.  There wasn't really a fisherman in the family until I came a long.  So it ended up with me, and after a good cleaning and oiling its fish catching days are far from over.

I often wonder the fish stories this reel could tell.  My wife's grandfather passed away not long after we started dating so I didn't get the chance to hear them first hand.  I still like knowing this was his though, and plan on giving it some more stories to tell and passing it on someday to continue the journey.

I can't wait to land a walleye with it...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New family addition

Say hello to Jack everyone.  He was born on July 20th.  Mom and Jack are both doing great.  It won't be long until I have more company in the woods. 

Here is a couple days after being born

Here he is at 2 weeks

One more with big sister Isabel

Some good memory making ahead for sure