Thursday, January 12, 2017

Budget Bushcraft Gear: Finnish Army Wool Jacket and Pants


Hey friends!

I wanted to share with you one of best gear deals I've seen in years-- Finnish Army Surplus Wool Jacket and Pants. 

I was surfing the net recently and saw these advertised on a military surplus store website. The jacket caught my attention because it was listed for only $14.95, and the pants for just $24.95. 

The Finnish Jacket and Pants look very similar in style to Filson's famed Mackinaw Jacket and Pants, which I reviewed back in 2012. So they really piqued my curiosity. 

Anyone familiar with Filson knows that their wool Mackinaw Jacket and Pants are NOT cheap, running in the $300-$400 range. Even buying them used on eBay will cost anywhere from $125-$200.

I looked around the net for more information about the Finnish Jacket and Pants, but there wasn't a ton of info about them. However, the small number of reviews/comments I did find were all glowing, so I called the surplus store and ordered a set to see if they were any good. 

When I received the jacket and pants, I was astounded. They both looked almost new, and quality was every bit as good as my Filson wool. 

Not only is the quality there, but these are some of the most stylish wool military clothes I have seen. The jacket looks and fits so well that it could easily be worn out for a night on the town.

(Note: the tag in the photo was still on the jacket when I took the photo. It was not permanently attached and came right off):







The Finnish wool is a little thinner than the Filson Mackinaw jacket and pants, but still thick enough to be usable in the bush for three season use. The pants could work in the winter if you wear some long johns under them or wear a pair of military surplus Goretex shell pants over them to block the wind. 

I read on one of the forums that the last time these popped up on the market was 3-4 years ago, so I expect that they will be sold out pretty fast once word spreads. To be able to buy Filson quality wool bushcraft attire at this price is the deal of the century in my opinion. 

I will put links to the store where I got mine below. 

Cheers!

Jason

Surplus Finnish Wool Army Jacket- https://vtarmynavy.com/finnish-wool-jacket.html

Surplus Finnish Wool Army Pants- https://vtarmynavy.com/finnish-wool-pants.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

GEAR REVIEW: North Face Inferno -40 F Down Sleeping Bag- Great for Bushcrafters, Backpackers and Preparedness Kits- UPDATED


North Face claims their Inferno -40 Down Sleeping Bag is "Suited for use at the edge of human tolerance." I thought that was a pretty bold statement, but I have to say that after spending a year using the Inferno under extreme conditions, their claim isn't outlandish after all. Warm, waterproof, comfortable and rugged, as you'll see in the field notes below, the Inferno more than proved itself in our winter gear testing trials.....

The SPECS:

  • 20D Pertex® Endurance™ shell
  • Side-block chevron baffles
  • Vaulted footbox
  • Winter heat trap with center draw
  • Expedition fit
  • Compression stuffsack doubles as a summit pack
  • 850 fill Goose Down
  • Glow-in-the-dark, glove-friendly Zipper Pulls
  • Weight: (Size Regular)- 4lbs (Size Long)- 4lbs 5 oz
  • Street Price- $700.00, available from Backcountry.com

FEATURES

Featuring a healthy 850 fill Goose Down, waterproof -20 denier Pertex Endurance Shell, a generous draft collar, and an "expedition fit," the Inferno certainly has all the features in a bag meant for extreme winter conditions.


The generous draft collar:

The Inferno has over-sized zipper pulls that glow in the dark, making late night zipper adjustments in frigid temps a little easier.


The Inferno just fit inside the sleeping bag compartment of my Kelty Red Cloud 90 pack:


Stuff sack:

FIELD TESTING

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, the Inferno proved to be an excellent sleeping bag when mountain weather turned extreme. It's been a faithful companion on multiple winter gear testing trips, where I've had to endure temperatures approaching -30 F.

Whether I was winter backpacking up to the treeline on Longs Peak, spending the night in sub-zero temperatures in the mountains of FishLake National Forest in Utah, or testing the comfort limits of winter gear in Colorado's Roosevelt National Forest, the Inferno always kept me warm and comfortable. In fact, I found that if it's used in temperatures above 0 Degrees F, it will quickly become it's namesake-- a real 5-alarm fire if you don't unzip and vent it!

Sleeping under the stars in the mountains of FishLake National Forest, Utah, January 2014:


The morning after:

Roosevelt National Forest, near Mount Meeker, March 2013. Testing out a Kifaru ParaTipi "hot tent" for 3 days. With night time temps approaching -20, I brought the Inferno along to keep me warm when I couldn't run the wood stove after turning in for the night. I intentionally slept in the ParaTipi with the front flaps opened to let the icy air in to ensure a harsh test of the Inferno.


Longs Peak Trail winter backpacking trip, March 2013. Longs Peak Trail is an incredibly beautiful trail, but even in winter with snow covering everything, the National Park Service does not allow you to make a campfire, important if you get chilled and need to warm up. With day time highs hovering at 0 F, and night time temps dropping to near -30 F, the Inferno became my most cherished piece of gear. When I got chilled after setting up camp, I would jump into it and quickly get warm. It would even warm up my cold toes, one of the hardest body parts to warm quickly.


Camping in Goblin's Forest on the way up to the treeline:

Near the treeline of Longs Peak, with the Inferno tucked safely away inside my pack:


Conclusion

After the lengthy testing I did with the North Face Inferno, it has become more than a sleeping bag to me. It has become my most trusted piece of gear for winter survival. Whether out trekking in the mountains, winter camping, or driving in my vehicle, the Inferno stays with me at all times once Old Man Winter hits.

Spending time in remote mountainous territory, the way I do, with the constant threat of extreme weather conditions, I just can't take any chances. The Inferno gives me the confidence that no matter what happens, I'll have a good chance of surviving.

Sure, I could just build a good longfire to keep warm, but having spent many a winter night in the Rocky Mountains, I can tell you from experience, the fire is going to go out at some point, leaving the possibility of hypothermia if the conditions are extreme enough. Plus if you're injured and in a high snowdrift area, making a fire is a much harder proposition. Using the Inferno might not be the "purist" way to survive, but it works, and that's what counts. Even bushcrafting legend Mors Kochanski requires students at his winter survival school (which focuses on using natural materials and fire to stay warm at night) to bring winter sleeping bags as backups. I think this speaks for itself.

Cons? I would like to see some type of face screen built into the bag to keep your nose warm during use. The Inferno is also a 1/2 pound heavier than some of its more expensive competitors.


The final verdict on the Inferno? I think it's splendid. The Inferno is one of those rare pieces of gear that actually lives up to its hype and description, and in the case of camping, trekking, or "bugging out" in dangerous sub-zero weather, it could be a real life-saver. Yes, it's not cheap ($700.00 street price), but then again, no quality -40 F degree rated down sleeping bag is. Is $700 too much to spend on your life? You'll have to be the judge of that, but when a piece of gear is such a decisive game changer in a survival situation, for me, the answer is quite clear.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)


About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

REVIEW: Winchester Super Sport AA 2.5" .410 Shells- Best Birdshot for Wilderness Survival?


The .410 Shotgun has been popular as a wilderness survival gun ever since the Air Force adopted it as part of their M6 Air Crew Survival Weapon in the 1950s. The Air Force chose the .410 because it is the lightest of all shotgun calibers, yet is reasonably effective within 25 yards on birds or other small game.

The 410 Conundrum 

Although light in weight, the 410's Achilles' Heel has always been the limited number of pellets in its small shell. This translates to thin patterns when you get past 20 yards compared to its larger 12 Gauge and 20 Gauge siblings.

Over the last several decades, manufacturers tried to remedy this shortcoming by developing larger 3" Magnum loads, which carry heavier 11/16th ounce or 3/4 ounce payloads compared to the .410's standard 1/2 ounce load.

Most of these 3" Magnum shells do throw denser patterns, but this performance comes at a cost-- increased weight. When you have to hump everything on your back in a survival situation, EVERY ounce adds up.

So this led me on a search. Was there a standard 1/2 ounce 2.5" 410 shotshell that combined the pattern density of the 3" Magnum shell with the lighter pack weight of the classic 2.5" Shell?

After posing this question to some experienced shotgunners in my area, they all advised me to check out Winchester's AA .410 2.5" Super Sport Target Loads.

They said Winchester AA shells patterned better than other shotgun shells because of their unique construction.

Hoping they were right, I wrangled up a few boxes of AA from my local gun store, grabbed my Double Badger 410 Shotgun, and headed off to the mountains with targets in hand.

Winchester's 410 Super Sport Sporting Clays Ammunition

Winchester's AA Super Sport is a high grade shotgun target ammunition that has been popular with trap and skeet shooters for decades.

Its popularity stems from the fact that due to its unique construction, it patterns better out to farther distances.

Here is Winchester's description of their AA shells:

  • Proven Hard Shot
  • High-Strength Hull
  • AA Wads
  • Best-in-Class Primer and Powder
  • Sporting Clays, Trap and Skeet

FIELD TESTING

To test the AA Shells, I gathered up an assortment of popular .410 ammo, a handful of my favorite Champion Squirrel targets, and set them up at 25, 30, and 40 yards to see which one would pattern the best. 

I made sure to do testing on a calm day to ensure that the wind would not effect the results.

The gun used was my Chiappa Double Badger .22 Magnum/.410 Shotgun folding combo gun, which I reviewed in July of 2014. It has a 19" barrel and a full choke. Here are the test results......

Winchester AA 410 #7.5 Shot, 25 Yard Pattern (Click any photo to enlarge):


25 Yard Patterns from other popular 2.5" and 3" 410 loads (please note that the different sized holes are due to pellet deformation):



Winchester AA 410 #7.5 Shot, 30 Yards


Comparison with popular 3" Magnum .410 loads at 30 yards 
(unfortunately, my Sharpie pen died after using it on two targets, hence the difference in the circled/uncircled targets):




Winchester AA 410 #8 Shot, 25 Yards


Winchester AA 410 #8 Shot at 30 Yards


Winchester AA #9, 30 Yards


Winchester AA 410 #8 Shot at 40 Yards

Even at 40 Yards, the Winchester AA #8 Shot still managed to put 8 pellets into the squirrel target:


CONCLUSION

In my pursuit of the ultimate .410 birdshot ammunition for wilderness survival, I was trying to find the lightest yet best patterning load on the market. After field testing Winchester's AA, I found that it fulfilled this role perfectly. The AA shells patterned better at distance than any of the 3" shells I tested despite the AA being just a 1/2 ounce shell. 

Aside from its excellent patterning, Winchester AA also has better penetration due its harder shot and sizzling 1300 F.P.S. velocity.

AA shells can also be reloaded, thanks to the high quality hull and brass base that is used in their construction.

On top of all this performance and the ability to be reloaded, Winchester's .410 AA is also usually the cheapest 410 ammo you will find on your local store shelves.

Pound for pound, I cannot think of a better all around .410 small game/bird hunting shell for wilderness survival.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly recommended)


About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft and the author of Edible & Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains Pocket Survival Guides. Jason has also written for magazines such as the The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine/ELLE Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com

Thursday, January 5, 2017

FIELD TEST: Elk skinned with a Mora Garberg Knife

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016)

Hey friends,

Last week, I skinned an Elk that my neighbor hunted (legally) using Mora's new full tang Garberg Knife. The knife performed excellent in this role and also held a great edge. My neighbor was kind enough to let me keep the pelt and the sinew which I plan to use for bushcrafting.

Also- looks like the street price on the Garberg Knife has dropped all the way down to $56.00 on Amazon- https://www.amazon.com/Morakniv-Garberg-Fixed-Sandvik-Stainless/dp/B01K1KL35O At this price, I think it the Garberg is a great deal. I have used the Garberg for a wide variety of tasks over the last year and it has done a great job with everything I've thrown at it so far.

Cheers,

Jason

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

SOG Releases New Line of USA Made Knives


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SOG Releases New Line of USA Made Knives 
Company Introduces Line of Fixed and Folded Knives Made in America

Lynnwood, WA. - SOG® Specialty Knives and Tools, is excited to announce a new line of knives completely made in the U.S.A. The initial products to be released in 2017 include a fixed blade, and three folders.

For this product line, SOG brought together a collective of artisans and engineers to achieve increased production, new styles and materials, while offering improved toughness, better edge retention, higher resistance to wear and edge chipping.

This USA Made production series of knives from SOG showcase the superior materials used when creating these premium products – such as CPM S35VN steel and Micarta handles.

Banner, is a fully equipped, heavy-duty folder with a SAT® assisted-opening CPM S35VN blade in a black Cerakote® coating housed in an anodized aluminum handle with steel liners. For a 3.5-inch blade, it weighs in at a relatively light 4.5 oz.


Utilizing SOG’s patented assisted opening technology, the blade opens quickly with a simple push of your thumb on the thumb stud.

The anodized aluminum handle and stainless steel liners make the knife balanced and strong. The handle contours to your hand making it comfortable to hold and grip.

Strat Ops, is a heavy-duty folder with an automatic CPM S35VN blade, with a black Cerakote® coating, housed in a linen Micarta handle with stainless steel liners. Measuring 8.0 total inches, with a 3.5-inch blade, the slim Strat-Ops weighs 3.7 oz.


Quick to open and durable, the push of a button causes the blade to open quickly and lock in place with a secure click.

The linen Micarta handle offers superior grip in wet or dry conditions and looks better the more it is used with the natural wear of the linen.

Tac Ops, a durable and sturdy folder with an automatic CPM S35VN blade, with a black Cerakote® coating housed in a linen Micarta handle with stainless steel liners.


With an overall length of 8.2 inches, with a 3.5-inch blade, the Tac-Ops is relatively lightweight at 4.6 oz.

With the push of a button, the blade opens quickly and locks in place with a secure click. The linen Micarta handle offers superior grip in wet or dry conditions and looks better the more it is used. The handle shape contours to your hand making it comfortable to hold and grip.

Pillar, a fully equipped, full tang CPM S35VN steel fixed blade, with a stone wash and machine ground finish.

 
 
This workhorse is built to handle any task. The canvas Micarta handle offers superior grip in wet or dry conditions and looks better the more it is used. Added with the Kydex sheath and adjustable low profile locking mount, this makes for a perfect choice for carry.


For 30 years, SOG has produced some of the most trusted line of knives and tools, used by Special Forces groups all over the world. The new line of USA Made tools falls in conjunction with SOG moving its shipping and fulfillment facility to Kentucky.

“Given our heritage, it is important for us to be producing knives in the USA once again,” stated SOG Director of Marketing, Chris Cashbaugh. “Our new CEO, Joe Mc Swiney, brings with him a proven background of domestic manufacturing, so the expansion of SOG’s manufacturing capabilities comes at a great time for us. Starting with these four knives, we intend to continue our development of USA-made products and increase opportunities to produce knives using domestically sourced materials, like the quality Crucible Steel’s S35VN stainless steel we’re using in this initial effort. “


The USA line of knives will be available to view and test at SOG’s booth (#425) during the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

About SOG:
Taking its name from an elite Special Forces military group from the Vietnam era – the Studies and Observation Group – SOG was founded in 1986 by designer and toolmaker Spencer Frazer. SOG has gone on to produce the favorite models of specialty knives and tools used by the military, law enforcement, industrial tradesmen and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. SOG’s diverse range of award-winning knives and tools are sold worldwide. For more information, visit www.sogknives.com.


Contact: White Raven Communications | Megan Holly | 678.231.5462 | megan.holly@wrcomm.com