Saturday, October 18, 2014

RMB's "How to Survive with a Multi-Tool" in this month's issue of Backpacker Magazine

NOTE-- This particular issue is special to me, since this was the same knife my dad gifted to me as a starry-eyed kid (a Victorinox Swiss Army Camper model), and which ultimately inspired me to do what I do today. Unfortunately, my dad has passed on, so he's not here to see this, but I thank him for the good times we shared in the outdoors. 

Cheers, Jason

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Larch Tree Pitchwood Necklace

One of our readers in the UK was inspired by our "An easy way to find Fatwood in the Rockies and Beyond...." to find pitchwood in his native woods. He ended up finding it in the knot of a Larch Tree and made his own pitchwood necklace. Check out his post on Twitter.

Very cool!

(photo used with the permission of Woodsman Wales)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Nature of the Mountain Man

"Born into every generation are restless men with feet that will not stand still, eyes that search for distant mountains, hearts that long to go where the scene is new and the promise of adventure alive. The possibility of danger only whets the appetite." -George Laycock

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LONG TERM UPDATE: Leatherman Charge AL Multi-Tool- The Do-It-All Pocket Companion

It's been almost two and a half years since I reviewed Leatherman's Charge AL Multi-Tool. How has the Charge held up? Brilliantly. In fact, I like it so much that it has become my main EDC tool. In spite of the fact that I have a large collection of high quality folders, I still find myself grabbing the Charge over my other blades when headed off into the unknown. Why? Simply put, the Charge is the best of both worlds-- a convenient one-hand opening folding knife with a pocket clip, and a full size multi-tool, all in one.

The Leatherman Charge 2 1/2 years later: Well used but still going strong, the Charge AL has been a fantastic pocket companion:

Surprising Portability

Now don't get me wrong, when compared to a typical EDC folder, the Charge is definitely no lightweight, weighing a rather hefty 8.3 ounces (about 3x the weight of a typical EDC folder). The key to the Charge being such an excellent EDC tool, is that despite its weight, its excellent deep-carry pocket-clip makes the Charge feel almost as light as a standard EDC folder when carried in the pocket.

The Charge AL sitting comfortably inside the pocket of my 511 Pants:

Infinitely Handy, Extremely Versatile

I've found the various tools of the Charge to be so handy that I feel practically naked without them. In fact, I misplaced the Charge last year for about a week and practically went into withdrawal until I found it! Since I spend the majority of my time living off-the-grid or field testing on private property and in national forests, I've found the Charge's tools to be indispensable when I don't have a larger toolbox close by.

PLIERS/WIRE CUTTERS- The pliers and wirecutters have been more useful than I ever imagined. I've used them for pulling fish hooks, lifting hot pot lids during campfire cookouts, performing emergency repairs on the Rocky Mountain Bushcraft Mystery Van, pruning pieces from edible plants and a myriad of other things.

FILE- The diamond-sided and course-sided files have been used many times to file off burrs and sharp edges on everything from the corner of my aluminium backpack frame to the tip of the front sight on one of my wiilderness rifles, saving me from lots of cuts and scrapes. The diamond-sided file has come in handy for sharpening my axes when I don't have access to my axe sharpening stones.

SAW- The saw has been used to make multiple shelter poles, and to harvest pitchwood knots when my larger folding saw was unavailable.

SCREWDRIVERS- All of the screwdrivers get used on a regular basis, including making sight adjustments on wilderness survival guns I'm testing.

SCISSORS- The scissors proved tough enough to cut through some thick leather I used to make a field pouch for my ceramic sharpening stone. They also come in handy for cutting loose threads, trimming nails in the field, etc.

MAIN BLADE and SERRATED BLADE- The 154CM on the main blade still amazes me with its ease of sharpening and edge holding. It has also proven to be extremely tough, because in spite of some very rough use, the edge has never rolled or chipped- great job Leatherman! The 420HC Serrated blade has been great for cutting through cardboard, and pulled double duty as a crude potato peeler to scrape edible roots clean.

CAN OPENER- When the 2013 Colorado Flood Disaster hit us, the Charge came in especially handy. All the mountain roads leading to town were blocked for over a week by boulders, running streams, and debris, cutting me off from civilization and leaving me stranded for the duration at a friend's mountain cabin. Most of my tools and equipment were at another location, so the Charge was pretty much the only real tool I had on me. When my fresh food supplies dwindled, I had to dig into my emergency supply of canned food. The Charge's can opener was a Godsend! I also once used the can opener as an awl to punch a new hole in my leather belt during a backpacking trip.


What else can I say? The Charge AL's superb pocket clip, rugged durability, and "pocket tool kit" abilities make it one of the best EDC/portable preparedness tools on the market today. Having a combination one-handed folder and a full-sized multi-tool with me at all times has been more handy than I could have imagined. In fact, I didn't know how much I'd miss the Charge's multi-tool functionality until I misplaced it for a week and nearly freaked out!

The only drawback is that the Charge is thicker and heavier than a typical folding blade. Even with its excellent pocket clip (which makes it feel light in the pocket for its weight), it's still no Gerber EZ Out or SOG Flash II. Still, the Charge AL's advantages far outweigh any of its disadvantages, and it is without a doubt the most handy and complete EDC tool I've ever owned.

4.5 out of 5 Stars ( Highly recommended)

For more information visit Leatherman's site at

Thursday, September 25, 2014

More Fall colors

Hello readers, hope you are well. Here is a self portrait on top of Kenosha Pass near Grant, Colorado. Beautiful Fall colors there. Cheers, Jason

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall colors in the Rockies

Here are some photos of the Aspens changing colors near where I live- enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Great quote about wilderness living......

The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most independent fellow on earth. - HORACE KEPHART

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer Report: Dave Canterbury/Self Reliance Outfitters- Pathfinder Guides, Jeff White Trail Boss Knife, Bushcraft 101 Book

While I was at Summer OR, I got a chance to stop by and talk with Dave Canterbury about his latest Self Reliance Outfitters' products. During the course of our conversation, talk inevitably turned to some of my writings about him in our news section.

Things were a bit tense at first as Dave explained his perspective, not only on his departure from Dual Survival, but also on my related news reports. He was aware of my RMB report on the subject since, at one point, it was the #1 news item on Google when that whole debacle was happening. I in turn explained my views. The air was cleared and we shook hands with a new understanding of each other.

Our conversation quickly changed to talk about bushcraft (big surprise!).

I enjoyed discussing the differences between bushcrafting in the Eastern US vs the Western US with Dave, and his breadth of knowledge really impressed me. Dave then showed me some of his cool new products......

Pathfinder Survival Guides

As some of you may recall, I reviewed Dave's Pathfinder Waterproof Pocket Guides last October and really liked them. You can check my review of the Pathfinder Guides here. For those in the Eastern US, Dave has a new set of Pathfinder Guides called Edible Plants of the Eastern Woodlands and Medicinal Plants of the Eastern Woodlands 

Pathfinder "Edible Plants of the Eastern Woodlands" Pocket Guide:
Edible Plants of the Eastern Woodlands

Jeff White Trail Boss Knife

Dave recently partnered with Jeff White Knives to produce a new series of forged bushcraft knives, complete with polished convexed edges, tiger-striped maple handles, and sharpened spines for striking firesteels and flint/quartz/chert, as well as scraping tinder. All Jeff White knives come with a quality leather dangler sheath which includes a firesteel loop and firesteel.

Let me tell you, this is one sexy knife, and I loved the way it felt in my hand. The design appears to be functional for a wide variety of tasks, including fine carving, batoning, chopping, and skinning. The fact that it is forged is a major plus, and as I outlined in my Puma Bowie review back in 2012, forged blades are generally superior in toughness to knives that are milled via the stock removal process. Axes, as well as critical parts in guns, engines and many other applications are still forged for high strength-- need I say more? 

Dave promised to send me a Trail Boss knife for review when they become available in the next couple of months, so be sure to check back as Christmas approaches for a full review.

Dave Canterbury's new "Bushcraft 101" Book

In 2014, Dave released a new book called "Bushcraft 101." This book is intended to be an introduction to bushcraft from Dave's perspective. I haven't gotten a chance to read it the entire way through yet, but my first impression is good. 

Dave takes classic bushcrafting knowledge and updates it with his perspective and experience. The only downside to the book is that it doesn't have much in the way of photo illustrations. I plan to read Bushcraft 101 from cover to cover, and once I do I will post an updated review, so check back soon!

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer Edged Tools Report: Spyderco's new "Clipit" Multi-tool

Combining Spyderco's legendary one-hand opening ability with the utility of a Swiss Army knife, Spyderco's new "ClipIt" folding knives are the best of both worlds. "ClipIt" knives have an easy-open Spyderco blade along with a "ClipiTool" Bottle Opener and Screwdriver, Scissors, or Serrated blade.

The Clipit Tools are constructed from 8Cr13MoV Stainless, a Chinese Stainless similar in composition and performance to Japanese AUS8 Stainless. 


Length overall: 4.59/4.57" (117/116 mm)
Length closed: 2.57" (65 mm)
Cutting edge: 1.75" (44 mm)
Blade length: 2.02/2.00" (51/51 mm)
Blade steel: 8Cr13MoV
Weight: 1.9 oz (54 g)
Blade thickness: 0.079/0.079" (2.0/2.0 mm)
Handle material: Stainless Steel
Street Price: $25-$30 USD

Here are a couple of photos of the ClipIt taken at the Spyderco booth at Summer OR:

Initial impression-- Just like other Spyderco's I've owned in the past, opening the ClipIt's tools one-handed is a breeze. Fans of Spyderco knives who are looking for a small, handy one handed-folder with the ability to do more than just cutting tasks will probably like this tool. One drawback is that these knives are not made in the USA or Japan like many of Spyderco's other blades, they're made in China. 

2014 Summer Outdoor Retailer Edged Tools Report: Buck's fire-engine red Compadre Hatchet, Camp Knife and Chopping Froe

Has Buck been called in to put out a 5-alarm fire? No! It just looks like it with their new "Compadre" line of edged tools in racy fire-engine red powder coat.

New for 2015, Buck's Compadre Hatchet, Chopping Froe, and Camp Knife feature break and chip resistant 5160 steel, fire-engine red powder coating, super tough Walnut Dymondwood handles, full tang construction, and black real leather sheaths. The Compadre tools appear to be engineered for rugged backcountry use, and potentially for bushcraft as well.

Here are the individual specs.....

Compadre Camp Knife Model 104
Overall Length: 9 1/2" (24.1cm)
Weight: 7.1 oz (201.3 grams)
Blade length: 4.5" (11.4cm)
Blade Steel: 5160
Blade Style: Drop Point

Compadre Camp Hatchet Model 106
Overall Length: 12.75" (32.4 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (24 oz/671.9 grams)
Blade/Cutting Edge Size: 3" (7.6 cm)
Blade Steel: 5160

Compadre Chopping Froe Model 108
Overall Length: 16.75" (42.5 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (24 oz/669.1 grams)
Blade length: 9.5" (24.1 cm)
Blade Steel: 5160

Initial Impressions

Compadre Camp Knife- Could this be Buck's first "bushcraft" blade? With a 4.5" drop point blade, full tang construction, and a Dymonwood handle, Buck's new Camp Knife emphasizes simplicity with a capital "S." It felt comfortable and balanced in the hand, and the edge on the show sample I examined was shaving sharp. It's definitely a very promising all-purpose woods blade for those who like Buck knives.

Compadre Hatchet- With its all-steel construction and synthetic-wood handle, the Compadre Hatchet is clearly reminiscent of Estwing's classic all-steel hatchets. Where it departs from Estwing's forged design is its milled steel appearance and Kukri-like curved blade.

The curve in Kukri knives gives them more chopping power than traditional straight blades. My guess is that this curve in the Compadre Hatchet should give it a similar increase in chopping efficiency. The Compadre felt surprisingly comfortable in the hand, and with the curved design, it could turn out to be a real chopping machine. On an upnote, this is Buck's first US-made Hatchet after years of selling their Chinese-made 757 Camp Axe.

Compadre Chopping Froe- Buck's Compadre "Chopping Froe" won't win any beauty contests, but its design is actually quite handy for a multitude of wilderness tasks. Its 1/4" thick, 9.5" blade can function as a short machete, heavy survival knife, or parang. Buck says the Chopping Froe is "perfect for clearing brush, heavy chopping, splitting, and batoning." 

This is not the type of blade I would normally rely on while out in the bush, but after handling the Froe, its design actually makes a lot of sense. Its thick blade would be great for batoning wood and chopping up kindling, the same as a large survival knife. It also has just enough reach to be useable as a small machete. I can also see the Chopping Froe being used as an effective draw knife for skinning logs, making camp furniture, etc. Its uses are probably only limited by your imagination.

The Froe might also be a great option over a big survival blade for bushcrafters and preppers in more politically correct areas of the world, where its blunt edge and inoffensive appearance might actually pass muster with the edge-phobic PC-crowd.

All three tools sport nicely done, heavy black leather sheaths. 

For more information visit