Category Archives: Other

Fire From the Gods? Whats in Your Pocket?

Picture yourself, The Middle Pleistocene era walking up to the cave, your fellow hominids are sitting around trying to rub some sticks together to get fire going.  You reach into the medicine bag hanging around your neck.  You grab something, reach down to the fire and push a button and PRESTO, Flames from the gods ignite the fire.  The rest of your tribe gathers around you, making offerings of animal skins and baskets of fruit, and slabs of thick cut meat.  Yes, Life is good.    Fast forward 700,000 years, and you can do the same, but may or may not be given all the offerings.

Yes, this is a review of a simple lighter, and should probably be 3 paragraphs, but where would the fun be in that?   So Today, I had a little more fun in writing a bit of a whopper of a review on such a simple item.   Mostly just out of a sense of fun. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) Wayfinder Butane Lighter with Compass

MSRP $14.99  Can be commonly found at Walmart for around $9.95.

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In the Package

Most comparable lighters online are in the $7:00 to $19.00 range.  Some similar lighters can be found much lower.  But I can’t judge quality of those in comparison having not used them.  There are some nice high end lighters with certified waterproofing and easier to use controls.  Look at the Delta Stormproof lighter for some of those higher end features in the $35+ range and you’ll see what I mean.

Before we get started, this question must be answered.  “Why a lighter?”.  You’re an outdoorsman, you can make fire with friction if you had to, matches are dirt cheap and easy to carry.  Heck, even a Ferro rod can make fire so easy, why on earth bother with a lighter?

To answer this question, I always start with a classic survival question.  You’re in a dire survival situation, sun is setting, temp is dropping rapidly, you have nothing on you but a ferro rod, a lighter, and the materials for a bow drill.  Which one are you going to light the fire with to save your life?  In a real survival situation, the lighter is the most immediate and effective means.  Could be windy, could be wet or raining and the match or ferro become a little more difficult to use, requiring more effort as your body reaches hypothermia.  You lose dexterity to operate some of these effectively.  (I have had hypothermia up to the point where my mind was starting to say “Lets just go to sleep, you don’t care anymore”.  Drown-proofing in a cold pool in October while in the Army.   I could barely grab a ladder to climb out of the pool, needed help.  Trust me, you lose dexterity in your fingers quickly and not long after that, you just don’t really care anymore).

Sure, out camping, just hanging out in the woods.  Take your time, make a fire with a ferro rod, or take the time to build a bow drill and do some fire by friction practice.    But even sitting around at work or at home, you need to melt some paracord ends?  The lighter is the quick, practical way to do that.   So, it just makes sense to keep a lighter on you.

I know some people are “Technology averse”, and may think technology is bad, and doesn’t belong in the field.  But even many of them still carry a lighter or other technology with them.  Mostly because it’s convenient and quick.  It’s just simply useful, but in the same respect, a lighter IS technology.  Just like a knife is “Technology” over a knapped piece of obsidian tied to a deer antler with some coyote tendons.  Technology isn’t bad, it’s just another tool to be used.  But like any tool, if you depend on it too much, if it breaks on you, your need to have the skills to use alternatives (like a ferro rod or a bow drill).  Dependence is never a good thing.  ANY piece of equipment can break or get lost (Even that $400 custom made specialty knife you love to death could accidentally be lost).  So make sure you have your alternatives, and your skills.   But don’t dismiss a tool because “Egads:  Technology”.  You’d still be carrying a knapped knife and wearing animal skins.  😊

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1 screw to access the inner workings

There are a lot of lighters available for all walks of life.  Some pretty high end super tough lighters on down to the cheap Bic knockoff lighters you can get at 50 cents each.  I used to carry the little Bics because they were cheap and disposable and the small ones ride in your pocket very well.   But they have the problem with the button being pushed while they are in your pocket and then the fuel leaks out and presto, you go to use it and it’s empty.    I’ve had them go empty in my pocket in less than a week and I’ve had them last for a couple months, but it’s a crap shoot.  Not something I feel confident enough in to trust my life to.

So, I have tried a couple of options.   In the Army I carried a Zippo, But soon discovered I didn’t care for them.  They tended to leak and dry out quickly.  And messing with transporting and carrying liquid fuel is a pain.  Sure, they looked cool, and it was fun to pull it out and snap my fingers and pop it open, but after a while I stopped carrying them.  I tried a peanut lighter and a forever match and a larger version, but would hate to try to use one if I was hypothermic, and both still leaked and aren’t as convenient as a thumb operated lighter.   After that I used Bic’s.  Then high pressure butane lighters started getting popular.  I have purchased a couple from gas stations in the $5.99 range on up to the $17.00 Spark Multi-tool butane lighter (Which turned out to be a total piece of junk, don’t ever waste your money on it).    Most just don’t stand up to pocket carry well.

My last butane lasted about 3 months before the cap broke off.  So, I have been in the market a for a replacement, but didn’t want any of the same old versions I see everywhere.  I was at Walmart and I’ve had mixed feelings about UST gear.  Some UST gear is a great value, the Spark Force Ferro’s are great, I LOVE the Polymer resin carabiners, lightweight, nonmetallic, tough enough and work great.  The small tarps are decent, (I don’t care for most of the cutlery as previous evaluations have shown).

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At this angle you can make out the rubber seal

The Wayfinder Lighter from UST was hanging in the camping section at Walmart.  I decided to give it a try.  I didn’t expect much.  Cheap plastic shell, button compass on the side.   But figured, it had to be better than the spark that had failed horribly.    Got it home and opened it up and was surprised.  It’s much more solid than I expected.   I popped the lid open and first impression was “No rubber O ring so not waterproof.    Which turned out to be my mistake. (Hey, I’m human, I make plenty of mistakes).   The lighter housing is chrome and there is a rubber gasket, but it’s so small and so close to the edge it’s lost in the reflection of the metal.

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Easy  flame control as long as you have a strong fingernail or knife

Once I figure out there was a gasket, I had to do some water testing.  This lighter is not billed as waterproof, it doesn’t say waterproof in the specs or on the packaging.  But I did 2 water tests.  I put it in a glass of water (This does not float, they do have some available that do but I don’t care for the more squared designs, I like rounded edges for pocket carry).    I did the first test for 5 minutes.  I was not surprised to see a lot of bubbles coming up.  Figured it was leaking.   But Pulled it out and low and behold, the chamber was dry.   (Turned out the water was going into the tiny chamber where the rocker arm is that houses the cap release, so the water didn’t enter the lighter at all.     After 30 minutes in water, it was still bone dry and worked fine.   There is a screw on the base that allows you to remove the lighter from the housing also.

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Latch Down, push button to release cap

The lighter works well, it does come empty so buy yourself a bottle of butane to fill it.  If you use butane lighters, you probably already have a bottle at home.  😊

The compass, It’s a standard button compass.  It works as well as any button compass.  Much like anything else, it doesn’t need to be there, but why not, doesn’t hurt anything and it’s still a compass and still works.

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With locking latch closed.  It has not come open in my pocket yet.

It has a great latch system.  Easy to operate 1 handed, and the flip up wire lock keeps the cap secured very well.

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Lanyard hole and compass

The flame is adjustable via a small turn screw on the bottom around the fill port.  This does require something akin to a knife or strong fingernail to turn.  Depending on the altitude you’re at it may need adjusting.

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30 minute water test was successful. The bubbles are from inside the thumb release, not the lighter itself.

All in all, it’s a decent lighter at a reasonable price.  There are probably better buys out there, higher quality, lower price, so find something you like or that fits you, but for the price, this is a decent little lighter and everyone should have a lighter in their pocket anyway.   Now, I’ve only had it for a week, so only time will tell if it’s tough enough to stand up to my pocket carry.  (I’m going to keep an eye on the rocker pins which I think are its weakest point).  I have high hopes and reasonable expectation. LOL   I’ll come back again in a couple months and let you know how it’s fairing.

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Lid Opens past 90 degrees, easier to get the flame to tight spaces.

Pros:

  • Tough plastic shell (I did more than 20 drop and toss tests with it and it’s still running just fine)
  • Adjustable flame
  • Cap is spring loaded and stays out of the way.
  • Solid latch to keep the lid closed and waterproof
  • Compass, (Why not? LOL)
  • Lanyard hole to add a lanyard if you like. (Could attached it to a pack if you wish.
  • Cap opens past 90 Degrees (many capped butane lighters do not, so they can be tough to get into tight spaces)
  • Bright Orange. (I like bright colors for pocket carry stuff, easier to spot in the grass when you drop it).

Cons:

  • No rubber grip. (This is more of a personal preference, it does have a good texture cutouts, but I like a non-slip rubbery grips)
  • No shock absorber built in like more expensive versions. (Not sure how useful that really is, as I have done dozens of 5 to 8 foot drop tests and a couple of 20 foot “Toss” onto concrete tests and it’s fared well.
  • Flame doesn’t get as high as some other lighters.

 

 

 

 

 


DIY – Leatherman ALX Sheath

2016-09-30-06-59-58I’ve been wanting to do this project for a while.  After my last factory sheath died a horrible death on my belt.  I decided I wanted to build one myself.  I didn’t like the sheaths that were available in other materials besides leather.  But the leather sheaths I found were either custom, and far too expensive for me (Even though I would LOVE to have some of them) but also, the factory sheath didn’t have the features I wanted.  So I set about and designed one of my own.

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This is what I came up with.  Unfortunately I didn’t document the process, I was just in a hurry to knock it out and get it back on my belt.  I had missed it for quite a few months.

The leather is not as heavy as I would like.  This is about 3oz leather.  A heavier 5 oz would be better.  But this is scrap I had laying around (Did I mention I’m a cheapskate LOL).

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The most important thing I wanted was to be able to carry the bit kit with it.  In my first Leatherman sheath the bit kit rode in the sheath in a similar manner, but was always getting stuck and difficult to pull out.  After that sheath broke, the canvas sheath had a stretch fabric to hold the bit kit and the corners of the bit kit tore it up really fast.

This is hand punched and hand stitched.  The snap was from a kit.  This is just the prototype and it has a tiny bit more play than I intended.  So the next will be a tad bit tighter.  I did wet-form it around the weatherman wrapped in a Ziploc bag to get some definition to the sheath, but it could stand to be a tad bit tighter.

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I didn’t have the bottom cut out as I intended to have it sealed, but once I started stitching I discovered that that would not work.  So I cut a half moon on the bottom and that corrected it.  Due to this modification, the Leatherman can be carried opened up in the pliers configuration.

The stitching is done with a waxed natural hemp cord.  This stuff is very strong for it’s size and has the more natural look than modern threading.  I died the leather with a Sedona Red stain.  Helps protect it and the deep redish color makes it fit in well with bot jeans and my dress clothes for work.

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I also extended the belt loop up  a bit. Both of the old sheaths rode high on the belt and would occasionally poke into my side sitting in chairs or in the car.  This longer loop allows it to dangle down a tad bit more and has a little more flexibility.  Much more comfortable to wear.

I did stamp my initials on it, but did not do it very deep.

I’m going to duplicate this sheath with some heavier leather.  This was just the practice and concept version.

It’s obviously nothing fancy.  None of the refinement you’ll see in leather goods produced by true craftsman.  But it gets the job done and as in life, everything is a learning process. You don’t have to be an expert.  You just have to make the effort.

This is also proof that anyone can do this.  A leather punch, some thread, a sharp knife (I use the Tibo from the previous review for all my leather work) a big needle and some cheap scrap leather and anyone can do it.  I learned a few things building this, and when I do the next one, it will be better, and each time I do something after that, it will be better.  So keep working on your projects, they will improve.  I have no talent when it  comes to crafts like this.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Pick up some scrap leather and start playing with it.  Make a small bag, or a phone cover or something simply just to get started.  Before you know it, you’ll be making really useful stuff that will last a lifetime.

Hope this inspires you to get out there and build something.

Doc

 

 

 

 

 


Lighting Your Way Today

Considering that roughly one third to one half of every day is in the dark (Depending on where you are and the time of year, and not accounting for storms, eclipses, giant spaceships blocking out the sun, etc.) one of the more critical things we as human beings rely on is light.  That could be candle light, kerosene lantern light, firelight, electric lights or battery powered lights.

I always carry a flashlight on me, in fact, I generally have two or even three depending on time of year and clothing.  If I’m running around in shorts and a T-shirt, I’ll have 1, I have a spare in my spring jacket and when wearing heaver clothing I keep 2 spares (1 spare hand light and a headlamp for hands free use).

3 lights

Lots of light in a small amount of space

Any ole flashlight will do in most situations.  I was lucky enough to see a motorist one night (-28 degrees, middle of winter) trying to change a tire in the dark.  I pulled in and walked up to see if I could help.  He didn’t have a flashlight and could barley see what he was doing and had already spent 20 minutes in the freezing cold feeling around and figuring out how the spare tire release and jack worked in the dark by feel.     Simply pointing a light allowed him to finish in 3 or 4 minutes what would have taken another 10, (And would have turned a 30 minute job into a 7 minute job had he had it to begin with), which in that kind of cold might save a few digits.   Keep a flashlight in your vehicle at all times.  (I recommend you put it in a Ziploc bag with 2 sets of battery’s,  don’t load the batteries in the light or they may corrode and make it useless when you actually need it).  This can be a cheap flashlight.  Most alkaline batteries will last 8 to 10 years so you have plenty of time.

I do recommend going with an LED light over a bulb light.  If you use bulb lights, throw an extra bulb in with them.  However in this day and age LED’s are just as inexpensive now and offer both equal lighting AND longer battery life.  Can’t really go wrong with them.  They also work in temperature ranges higher and lower than bulb lights.  (I’ve burned a couple of mag-light bulbs in sub zero temps back in the old days (yeah, I’m 45 LOL) so the spare is always a must).

I also recommend keeping a headlamp in place of a standard hand light for most “Storage” lights, like home, car, pack etc.  (EDC “Every Day Carry” light exceptions we’ll discuss in a minute.   Head lamps have the benefit of keeping both hands free and if it has an adjustable angle bracket, can really keep light exactly where you need it.  i also discovered that as I got older I developed a gag reflex if I hold items in my mouth like a flashlight.  When I was younger I could do it all day.  Now, if I hold something in my mouth like the butt of a light for more than about 10 seconds, I start getting the urge to vomit.  Not sure why this came up on me as I got older, but it is what it is.

EDC lights:  I carry three lights with me most of the time unless it summer and I don’t have a coat or lite jacket (no pun intended. LOL).   Four if you count my FAK/Pack light.

I’ll go over the 4 I carry and why I carry them and their particular features.  Everyone has different needs, so by all means, do the research, find the lights that work best for you and your purposes.   This is just to help you see my own thoughts and if they help you figure out what works, great!

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Olympa RG245

First of all, my pocket light, the one that is on me everywhere all the time.  The one I use the most.  I got lucky on this one, I picked up an Olympia RG245 for about $30.  This light is typically $42 to $55.  Now, everyone knows I like value. I don’t generally go spending $40 or $50 bucks on a piece of gear unless it’s critical.  And when you can buy inexpensive led lights for $8 r $10 that can take some abuse and work well.  It’s hard to justify spending more.   But it’s worth it.

What you get for the extra money are a few features that are very useful.    Good circuitry that allows for even battery usage and extend life of the battery.  A temporary flash mode to let you know when the battery is getting low. (Otherwise it would just suddenly shut off).  Instead of a light that is just turned on or off, you get multiple settings.  There is a high beam good for defense to temporarily blind an adversary or at least interrupt their vision.  Or when you need a lot of light to light up a large area or see a good distance of 245 lumens.  This runs for about 1 hour on a single CR123 battery.  The second mode is a medium mode (just 1 more click of the tail cap button) A little less than half the brightness (about 110 lumens) which is good for most tasks, I spend most of my time in this mode.  The battery will last about 3.5 hours at this light level.  The low power mode is 20 lumens and the battery will last for an amazing 45 hours.  I’ve used this mode a lot when I’m camping and I need to get something out of a bag or light a stove or something.  Doesn’t completely destroy your night vision but offer plenty of light even to read by.

There are also a couple other modes like Strobe and SOS.  Strobe flashes rapidly which can be used for signaling and can improve performance in foggy or smokey conditions.  The SOS mode is useful in case you are hurt or need help.  You can set it down and let it flash for you.  It flashes the light in the universal Morse Code SOS pattern (dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot).

The light is small, easily fits in the palm.  I wouldn’t call it a defensive light like some of the slightly larger lights with raised ridges that can be used as a kubaton.   CR123 batteries are a bit more expensive, but the lifespan and power they produce are well worth it.  It would take a flashlight large enough to hold 2 AA batteries to get the same performance so it helps keep the light small.

I prefer the hooded tail caps like the Olympia because they don’t get turned on in your pocket the way side switch often do.  And they are much faster and easier to deploy than the twist off/on style.   Although even with the hood, I have on occasion turned it on in my pocket and the temperature after a few minutes goes up enough to let me know I did it.  As you can tell by the picture it’s well worn and function quite well.  It’s been dropped many times and that solid state circuitry and LED still work great.

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The second light I keep in an inside pocket of my jacket is a hands free light.  I’ve had a lot of the cheap little 30 and 50 lumen single LED headlamps that cost about $12 bucks and they work, but don’t seem to last very long.  My father in law had given me a pelican headlamp many years ago that lasted me 12 years of horrible abuse and is still going strong so I decided to see what the latest and greatest Pelican because I knew it was tough and would last me.  Not only was I happy with their latest models and features, I was quite surprised by the price.  I only paid $31.99 for the Pelican 2720 headlamp.    This thing has every feature I could hope for and a bunch I wasn’t even aware of.  Since this would be my primary “Work” light.  I was looking for features.  Simplicity is great, particularly in an EDC light, but for the main workhorse, I wanted a bit more and this thing nailed it.

  • Just a quick rundown of features.
  • Low level Red LED night vision that helps preserve night vision
  • Variable light mode from 100 % (200 lumens) for 3.5 hours all the way down to 12 lumens with over 100 hours run time.
  • Output magnification and beam control, can make it wider or narrower as needed.
  • 3 standard AAA batteries, easy availability
  • touch-less on off controls for when your cleaning game or or processing food and don’t want to touch it.
  • SOS beacon (Just like the Olympia).

Yep, this thing does it all.  And at $32.00 it’s tough as nails, waterproof and really just does it all.  The head-strap is outstanding, (I personally prefer the single strap on this model without the center cranial strap but to each his own).

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The backup light as I call it is a slightly larger light that I picked up through an online offer.   I believe it was around $30 or so just for the light but I got the full kit with it for that price.  It’s a Gun Shack G3 (Branded form the Helotex G3) but for the life of me I can’t remember what I paid for it.

This is a unique light because it came with all the connectivity for a weapon light with external switched and end cap, as well as conversion pieces to switch it between a dual CR123 and 3 x AAA so if you can’t find CR123’s where you are, you can sure find AAA’s.  Its a big handful of tough weapons grade aluminum with some serrations or “Skull Crusher” ridges on the front bezel.  It’s 160 lumens is not as “Tactically” strong for defense as the smaller Olympia I carry, but still plenty strong enough to interfere with vision.  (Anything over 120 lumens is considered defensively bright).   The flexibility of this light makes it a good backup light.

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The last light I carry is my pack light.  This is actually a custom light prototype created by the owner of Z.A.S.C.  (Zombie Apocalypse Survival Camp) Guy Cain.  Which I have been involved with since ZASC’s inception.   You can build this or a similar light pretty easily buying the parts online fairly cheap.   We never produced these lights, but may at some time.  It’s starts with a sealed 6 panel led that does 18 lumens (3 lumens per LED) Then that is wired to a 9V battery socket.  I added a flexible wire “bungee” strap that allows me to hang or stand or strap the light wherever I need it.  The best thing about this light is the time it runs.  On a typical 9V batter this light ran for just shy of 500 hours.  Yes, I ran this light continuously on a single 9V for 21 days straight.  If you were to just use it during 8 hours of darkness continuously, it would run for about 2 months, and if you only used it for an hour a night (more typical usage), it could go for nearly a year and a half on a single 9V battery.  This is a great little light.

I hope this info helps you find the ideal lights for your daily treks and shows that you don’t have to break the bank to be the hero when the lights go out.  🙂

Doc

 

 

 

 

 


Spork Showdown!

We’ve all seen them, seems to be a new model every month.  Plastic, metal various shapes and sizes.  So I decided to give a couple of them a go and see what I liked and what I didn’t like.   I actually surprised myself.  One thing we bush-bums or outdoorsman are always trying to find the best bit of gear.  That usually means the smallest, toughest most useful and longest living piece of gear we can find for whatever task we want it to perform.  Nobody wants to haul 40lbs of gear down the trail if they don’t have to.  However, I’m not a minimalist, I won’t trade value for small bits of weight.

I prefer gear to be robust AND a good value.  I wont spend 3 or 4 times as much to shave off negligible bits of weight.    many times the loss of weight has too many trade offs depending on what piece of gear it is.

I’ve often wanted to grab one of the CRKT Eatin Tool’s.  I have always been a big fan of CRKT because they are one of the best values in tools out there.  You really get a lot for the money you spend.   I just happened to be stuck at Target and going through their limited bit of outdoors gear and they had a couple of clearance items.  Low and behold the CRKT Eat’n Tools were there and on sale for 2.99 (Normally about $4.00 to $6.00 depending on where you find them).  Figured what the heck, I grabbed one for each of the kids and my wife.  They came in several colors so that everyone could tell them apart.   I was then looking at the CRKT Eat’n tool XL online the next day, My wife had me order her something and I didn’t pay attention and accidentally ordered the one I was looking at.    Was pretty surprised when it showed up.

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The whole gang!

I was then at Walmart the next week and I saw the heavy duty plastic eating sets so I grabbed a bunch for the Boy Scouts.  Figured I’d mark them and give them to each scout as a gift.  They were only $.88 each.   Well I was at Walmart, I also discovered a new spork/knife combo set similar to the CRKT from their “Ozark Trail” line.   Since it was only $3.00 I figured what the heck.  Grabbed a couple of them too.

We’ll start with the plastic set for $.88 Cents.   The good, Full size regular utensils.  Tougher than the cheap plastic disposables.  They have that “Rough” plastic texture that makes them a little more non stick that purely smooth plastic ware and they feel good in the hand.  But while your using them, you just can’t help but feel like they are disposable.   Personally, I think they make a wonderful addition to a car camping group kits or scout patrol boxes.  Not going to break the bank by any means to keep a dozen sets available and nobody gets upset if one breaks.   Being just plastic, I would worry about long term durability and are you going to open your pack after dropping it after a long days hike to find them snapped in half.    Never fear, they are well worth the cost at just $.88 cents.  The other thing going for it is, the spoon is big enough to really eat soups and other liquids!  They are kept on a plastic ring that is very weak.  In a box of goods it will keep them together, but I wouldn’t expect them to hang from it on a cook-set or anything else that gets tossed around for very long.

 

Next up is the CRKT Eat’n Tool  This guy runs from $3.95 to $7.00 depending on where you find them.  I’ve heard from people that it’s too short so I’ve always put off trying it until I could get the XL version.   But finding it so cheap, I figured what the heck.  I also thought it would be too short.  I also thought the wide top of the handle would make it very awkward. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.  You hold the wide handle across the top instead of down the middle like you would a regular spoon.  It seems awkward at first, but after a couple of bites, it’s as natural as using any other spoon.

The “Tools” built into it are kind of a gimmick, sure, if by some chance you ever needed to turn certain sized nuts or open a bottle and all you had on you was your spoon, they could be handy, but to me, they just add extra places for bits of food to get stuck or missed when washing.   Sure the cutouts do keep it even lighter, but as light as it is, the trade-off is negligible.  It is a solid tough eating tool, equal to or surpassing any metal spoon you might normally have.   The length might be an issue if you are eating out of a deep cup, like the Stanley I have here.  But all in all, I was impressed with the little guy.

The biggest downside to me is the “Spork” function.   The tines are not long enough to use as a fork, at best if you have a tough piece of meat, you might be able to stab the spork into it to eat it. It would be most useful for holding down something to cut, like a steak for example.   But realistically, even a perfectly round spoon can hold a tough steak down to cut it with one of my knives.  The spork cuts reduce the amount of liquid the spork will hold when eating soups or other liquid filled meals.  I’d prefer to see the spoon left without the spork cuts.  There is just limited usefulness for them.

The Powder coat was already showing signs of wear after the first meal and my son carried his on his belt with his little mini kit and it chipped off several pieces pretty rapidly.  I don’t think the coating would come off fast enough to be a health issue.  But I would definitely recommend the bead blasted rather than the painted versions just because of the paint.  But even with the paint they are still outstanding.  The paint is a non-stick coating so cleaning them is a breeze.  I can HIGHLY recommend this tool for most everyone, with the caveat that it might be too short to use in a tall or deep cup or can.  Also the mini carabiners are not going to last.  In fact my son broke his within 20 minutes just clipping it on and off his kit.   I’d recommend doing up a different method like a paracord loop double through the hole to a tougher carabiner.

 

So, Now on to the CRKT Eat’n tool XL version.  I figured this guy would be awesome.  All the features of the regular eat’n tool with a full length handle!   Well, I was surprised when I got it.  It is HUGE and extremely heavy.  You could use this thing to dig a fox hole or quite possibly jack up a car.  the extra length is good, but the shortened rounded spoon with spork cuts still has the same issue with liquids as the smaller Eat’n tool.  Because of the full length, its a bit heavy to use it held sideways over the back like the smaller eat’n tool, but the extra wide handle makes it awkward to hold like a regular spoon.

Did I mention this thing is HEAVY DUTY.   It almost feels like eating with an entrenching tool.  I actually tapped one of my teeth with it while eating and it made me feel that accidentally breaking a tooth could be a real possibility with this thing.  But it’s a tank.  The tools on it feel as if you could actually use them to turn nuts and bolts, so if you REALLY are looking for a multi-tool instead of a spoon, this might be the guy to go with.  I would definitely advise anyone interested to get one in your hands and feel it before you buy it.    Otherwise it may just end up being another bit of gear laying the bottom of your pack.  And just as the regular Eat’n tool,  the mini carabiners are not going to last.

 

The last item on my showdown turned out to be a great buy.  While looking for 1 of the non coated Eat’n Tools for myself, I ran across the Ozark Trail Walmart brand set below.  I decided that since it was even cheaper, I’d give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  much lighter than the XL and about the same weight with both knife and spork as the Eat’n tool.  A slightly longer handle made it easier to use as a regular spoon and get into deeper cups, but still short enough to fit inside most small cup kits.  Really about the perfect length for a pack kit.  I wish they sold the spork without the knife.  Would be an even better value.  🙂

It has a black non-stick coating that seems a bit more durable than the powder-coats on the CRKT’s.   Plenty tough enough to last a lifetime.  The knife is ok, but nothing special, it’s serrated, so the edge it will last without sharpening for quite some time, however since since we all carry good quality sharp knives everywhere anyway, for a pack kit, I’d leave the knife at home and just take the spork.   Of course, the spork has the same issue as all the other sporks, just too short to be a fork, and lets the liquids drain too much.  Quite frankly, if they made this version without the spork cuts, I would consider it near perfect.  And at roughly 1/2 to 2/3rds the cost of the other models.  It’s an amazing value.

 

A comparison shot to show the difference in thickness of the various metal sporks.

All in all, any one of these tools will work, but given the choice, I like the Ozark trail Spork and the smaller CRKT Eat’n tool the best.  I will continue using all of them over the next couple months for camping and let you all know how they are after being used for a longer period of time.

Happy eating on the trails!

Doc

 


Update on Firecord

6 months ago, I purchased some Firecord and did a review on it.  It’s a neat and simple way to keep some fire starting material with you.  Sure there are thousands of ways to make fire, but just for simplicity and availability on all your gear, this stuff is great.

I wanted to test the longevity of it under normal use.  I’ve had some tied to my packs for 6 months.  Been rained on, and had dew on it and snow and been through many freeze/thaw cycles.    Does it still work after it’s been hanging around on my kit for 6 moths?  Well, the answer is a resounding Yes!   I will rerun these tests every 6 months and see how long it really lasts.

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Just a little rubbing with the edge of a knife will fuzz it up to catch a spark.  Doesn’t take much fuzzing or sparking.

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One quick spark with a Fero rod and it took right off.

So all in all, I’m still a fan.  it’s so easy to tie some paracord off on your kit.  And just have it on standby “Just in case”.   I’m going to do an immersion test next to see what kind of water-logging it can really take and still light.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the trails!

Doc

 

 


Liberty Is Morality

Yes this is primarily a Gear Review site with some other odds and ends thrown in.  However, occasionally, I throw a little brain food out there to change things up.  This is one of those times.  I’ve been sickened by the loss of liberty in this country, I see it every day.  So I threw together a little diatribe.  if you enjoy it, share it.   As a soldier, this needs to be said.  I have brothers and sisters dying around  the world and it sickens me.

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Liberty IS Morality

There is a great truth in the world that the distancing and destruction of individual liberty has made most people forget over the last couple of hundred years. Basic human rights. The rights you have are not granted by a piece of paper or by a government. They are granted to you by nature, by birth and by your equality among your fellow human beings. Not by the location chance happened to put you, at birth, on this planet. Those rights can easily and simply be summed, as in our declaration of independence as “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. That is it. Nothing more, nothing less. Over time we seem to have forgotten this.

The simplest way I’ve found to examine this topic is to discuss the morality of those who destroy liberty (whether purposely or out of ignorance). Once you understand something is immoral (Slavery for example), it’s pretty easy to change your mind. Morality is one of the strongest bonds of liberty we have. How do you stop the bully? You get him to understand his acts are immoral, it is far more effective than any other method.

Not everyone is moral, and no amount of force can make those people moral. However, as long as we have liberty, we can easily defend ourselves from those immoral people. Thus we note that liberty once again is the single most important protector of human life. Without it, we are slaves to someone.

Let us start with the simple idea of theft. We all know theft is immoral. (On that I bet we can all agree 100%) You cannot take from someone without that persons consent or you are committing an immoral act. Does it matter if you are the one holding the gun, or if you use the proxy of a mob to have someone else hold the gun?) Thus, every human being has to make a choice to be a moral person or an immoral person. It really is that simple. If you force your ideas on another human being via the proxy of the mob, you have taken their liberty. The only act more immoral than taking someone’s liberty would be to take their life. (Yet without liberty, haven’t you taken their life in a way?)

So think about that. Ask yourself the question, have you done anything that enables the loss of liberty for another human being? If so, it is can’t be changed, what’s done is done, the past is in the past etc. Understanding the error is the first step. But what can you do going forward to not commit that act again? That is the question I want everyone to ponder. How do you go forward and be a moral person? How do you go forward and not take liberty from anyone?

In this case, it’s what you don’t do that can far supersede anything that you can do. You can give money, donate time etc., etc., but none of that makes up for the taking of someone’s liberty. Thus the first step is to not take the liberty of another human being. You easily surpass the little things you can do. Liberty, everyone deserves it, whether you like them, or agree with them or share the same philosophies, ideologies or political views. Everyone deserves liberty.

Liberty. There is a reason it is the single most fought for ideal in American history.  Our ancestors fought to the death for liberty, our brothers and sisters have fought and died for liberty both on American soil and around the world. What bigger disservice can we do than dishonor their memories by throwing liberty aside for political ideologies? To use force through the proxy of the mob to have our own ideas forced on others and remove their liberty.

 

Liberty, Say it again, Liberty:   The sound alone is enough to make a man proud to be alive. As a soldier, I was prepared to give my life for liberty. I don’t expect that from anyone, but I do expect everyone to look at their own actions and do their best to not take liberty from another person. If the majority (The mob, however you wish to define it) took this stance, this could once again be the greatest bastion of liberty the world has ever known.