Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Leah's Corner: Coghlan's Folding 7" Sierra Saw Test and Review

Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft

Hey everyone, it's Leah, the editor of RMB. I don't post very often, since I usually work more behind the scenes editing Jason's articles and reviews, but thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite pieces of gear- Coghlan's folding 7" Sierra Saw

Although I don't have Jason's experience when it comes to testing gear, I do enjoy trying out many of the cool products that we review here at RMB in order to get a better perspective when editing.

One of the products I've grown to love is Coghlan's Sierra Saw, which I first got about a year ago.

My yard ends in woods, and years ago someone planted English Ivy that was left to overrun the place. The ivy vines running up the tree trunks were inches thick. I had tried using other tools to combat the evil invader, but to no avail.

The Sierra Saw was light and small enough to maneuver under and around the vines, and strong enough to cut through stems the size of a tennis ball without getting stuck. I don't have a ton of arm strength, so when I use a saw I have trouble with the blade getting stuck, it's usually followed by more than a few choice words! The Sierra Saw doesn't ever seem to stick.

With the holiday season upon us, I had a reason to put my Sierra Saw to good use again for preparing the Christmas tree, so I thought I'd take a few photos with the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S5 Active Phone that I'm testing.

Christmas is still weeks away, so I wanted to put the tree in some water to help keep it fresh. I thought I'd pull out the Sierra Saw to trim a slice off the bottom. This used to be a struggle. Saws would get stuck, the tree would move, the cut would be uneven. Not with the Sierra Saw! It probably didn't even take a full minute to cut a slice off the bottom and put the trunk in a bucket of water!

Even if you never go hiking, get yourself a Coghlan's Sierra Saw. It's as useful in the suburbs as it is in the woods. In fact, I liked it so much that I even gave one to a friend as a Christmas present last year!

Happy Holidays!


For more information, visit: www.coghlans.com/products/sierra-saw-8400

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Batoning logs with a small fixed blade knife

Who says you need a big honkin' survival knife to baton logs?! In bushcrafting, it's all about making the most of what you have. If you have a shorter knife, but need to split logs in an emergency to get to the dry wood, just whittle down your log by batoning the outside edges first. The log will gradually reduce in circumference and become more manageable.

The thin pieces you baton off can then be used for kindling, fireboards, crude digging trowels, utensils, trap-making, or anything else you can think of.

I'd say this Elk had a really bad day!

While I was out taking photos for some upcoming tree identification articles, I ran across this:

I'd say this poor elk had a really bad day!

Gear Review: 'Camp Chow' Camp Food - Boundary Waters' Finest

Last month, I attended the 2014 Winter Camping Symposium in Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota. After the Symposium, I made my way northward to Gunflint Lake, Minnesota, an area on the US-Canadian border renowned for its beauty and pristine wilderness.

A friend, who accompanied me on the trip, had some family property on Gunflint. She was well-versed in the area's cool attractions. One of the places she wanted me to visit was the Trail Center Lodge, a historic locale which she said had an "amazing breakfast." Boy was she right! The breakfast there truly WAS amazing. Their pork sausage gravy was literally the best sausage gravy I had ever eaten.

After breakfast in Trail Center's restaurant, my friend tugged at my sleeve to check out their "Camp Chow" brand camp food, which was on display at the gift shop. She said Camp Chow had a great reputation with the locals, and that we should consider grabbing some to take back to Colorado.

Impressed by the breakfast I had at the restaurant, I took her advice and grabbed a couple of the Camp Chow meals to take home with me. 'Shrimp Chowder' and 'Wild Rice Casserole with Pork' looked interesting, so I settled on those.

Back home in Colorado, I fired up my stove and tried them both. Wow, were they delicious!

Definitely a nice change of pace from Mountain House Backpacking Food. Although I like Mountain House, the Camp Chow is on a whole other level. Camp Chow tastes like high quality restaurant food and takes only a little more effort to make than an instant Mountain House meal. Foodies that like to camp and backpack, take note!

Impressed by the taste of Camp Chow, I decided to get in touch with Sarah Hamilton, the owner of Trail Center and the genius behind Camp Chow.

Sarah decided to start the Camp Chow brand after listening to thousands of comments from her restaurant patrons. Fresh from hiking the Gunflint Trail or canoeing the Boundary Waters, these wayward travelers often complained of dehydrated backpacking food that was bland, too salty, or over-processed.

So she used her expertise, from years of serving delicious foods at her restaurant, to create an alternative to the less than stellar backpacking pabulum her patrons had been eating.

Camp Chow quickly became a favorite with local outfitters. In fact, her Camp Chow 'Pork Gravy' recipe became so popular that Sarah now uses it in her restaurant!

After speaking with Sarah, she very graciously offered to send Leah and I some of her Camp Chow food to sample. Yes folks, she really had to twist our arms on this one!

Most of Camp Chow's food is easy to make (i.e. just add to boiling water), and quick, taking just 5-7 minutes for most of the breakfast meals and 8-15 minutes for a dinner entree. In keeping with Sarah's philosophy, Camp Chow meals tend to be slightly less salty than average, allowing users to tweak them to perfection with a touch of salt if desired.

I've now sampled several new Camp Chow meals that Sarah sent. These have included her Chicken Alfredo, Beef Stroganoff, Broccoli and Cheese and James' Rice Pudding. They were all outstanding-- fresh, flavorful, delightfully complex, you name it.

And then there are Sarah's pork gravy breakfast meals. I tried her 'Sausage Gravy with Scambled Eggs' and 'Grits with Pork Sausage.' Both of these meals were every bit as good as I remember from Sarah's restaurant-- in other words-- fantastic!

Sarah has many more meals listed on her site, including soups, creative camp breads (bushcrafting bannock lovers, are you listening?), lunch entrees, side dishes, and desserts, which you can check out here- http://shop.trailcenterlodge.com/Dinner_c22.htm


Although none of the Camp Chow meals are exactly cheap ($6 to $10 per meal), they taste great, portions are very generous, and the ingredients are fresh and very high quality. In fact, I bet you could really impress your significant other on a day hike if you whipped out some Camp Chow for an impromptu lunch on the trail.

For more info visit Trail Center's Camp Chow page at www.shop.trailcenterlodge.com/Dinner_c22.htm

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Arrivals: CountyComm "Companion Compass" and "Brass Match Container w/Compass Capsule"

CountyComm, maker of ultra-cool "James Bond" style gadgets and tools for the US Government and Military, has just come out with two new survival products-- the "Companion Compass" and "Brass Match Container w/Compass Capsule. " Both made in the US of A! 

As some of you may recall, we reviewed CountyComm's SERE and ThumbTac Compasses last May and loved them. Both of these products bear the same high quality build as the SERE and ThumbTac compasses.

CountyComm's 'Companion Compass' is a simple, no-frills, high-quality micro-compass that can be stashed in a small survival kit for emergency use.

Their 'Brass Match Compass Capsule' can be used to store matches, money, a sparker, first aid or tinder.

The Companion Compass:

 Companion Compass Specifications:
Height: .45"
Diameter: .8"
Weight: 20.5 Grams
C360 Free Machining Brass ( Buttery Smooth )

Size comparison next to CountyComm's SERE Compass, which we reviewed last May. The Companion is slightly larger and a bit heavier than the SERE Compass, but has more precise directional indicators:

Brass Match Container w/Compass Capsule:

(photo credit: CountyComm)

Brass Match / Compass Capsule Specifications:
Height: 3.15"
Diameter: .8"
Weight 82.5 Grams
C360 Free Machining Brass ( Buttery Smooth )

For more information visit www.countycomm.com/brasscompass.html

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gerber to release Made in the USA "StrongArm" Survival Knife

Hey Gerber knife fans, check it out. Come January, Gerber plans to release a new US made survival knife called the "StrongArm."

Sporting a 4.8" fine edge blade made from 420HC Stainless, the StrongArm appears to be based on Gerber's hugely popular serrated-edge Prodigy Survival Knife. Fans of the Prodigy have been begging Gerber for years to introduce a fine-edged version of the Prodigy. Could this be the knife they've been hoping for?

Although the StrongArm was created with military survival in mind, it has great potential to be a no-frills, functional survival knife for civilian use like the Prodigy.

The StrongArm's sheath is reminiscent of the Prodigy's, but with a slimmer profile, ala' Cold Steel's Secure-EX sheaths.

Although Gerber is listing the StrongArm's MSRP at $75.00, Knife Center is already taking pre-orders for this knife at $39.95. At this price, it could be the deal of the century for a quality, name brand survival blade that's made right here in the good ol' USA.

The StrongArm will be available in both fine and serrated edge versions. The official word from Gerber is a release date of January 1st. Check back here in January and we should have a review posted on the StrongArm, including a direct comparison with the Prodigy.


Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade

Gerber has been making survival knives for the US Military since 1968. The StrongArm Fixed Blade knife carries on our legacy of tough-as-hell fixed blade knives for combat and survival applications. Featuring a fine edge, full tang 420HC blade with black ceramic coating, the knife was designed around the fundamentals of military survival training. Obtain a solid grip on this knife in all conditions with its diamond texture rubberized handle.


The StrongArm’s modular sheath system is as important as the knife itself. With the sheath’s snap-together components, the operator can mount the knife vertically on MOLLE, horizontally on a standard 1.75” tactical belt, or in a traditional drop-leg belt mount fashion. The StrongArm Fixed Blade is proudly built in Portland, OR. MSRP: $75.

  • Fine edge, full-tang 420 HC steel blade
  • Ceramic blade coating
  • Rubberized diamond texture grip
  • Striking pommel
  • Nylon webbing for drop-leg carry and secondary retention
  • Detachable belt hoops for horizontal belt carry
  • Snap-in MOLLE strap
  • Made in USA

  • Blade steel: 420 HC
  • Handle material: glass-filled nylon with rubber overmold
  • Blade length: 4.8” (12.2 cm)
  • Overall length: 9.8” (24.8 cm)
  • Knife weight: 7.2 oz (204 g)
  • Overall weight: 10.9 oz  (309 g)

New Arrival: Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera

Rocky Mountain Buschcraft would like to say a big thank you to Nikon for sending us their new D5300 DSLR Camera to test and review.

As longtime readers know, we love to capture great images to put into our reviews and articles, so it will be a real treat to use the D5300 after using an aging 10-year-old Canon PowerShot for so long to take photos here at RMB.

The D5300 has some really cool features like 24 Megapixel image quality, 'EXPEED' 4 image-processing engine, built-in 1080/60p Full HD Video Camera, and 3.2-in. vari-angle LCD monitor, as well as built-in WI-FI and GPS capability. The lens that came with our test unit is a Nikkor 18-140mm lens:

According to my research, this lens is highly recommended by Nikon camera enthusiasts if you're looking for a lens that can handle a wide range of activities, such as long range, close up (macro shots), wide angle, and portrait shots.

Since I'm not a camera reviewer, I don't plan to write a technical review of the D5300. What I do want to find out is -- Does it take great photos and video in different outdoor lighting conditions? Is it easy to use? Is it reliable? How long does the battery last? How well does the Nikkor 18-140mm lens handle various outdoor adventure shots?

My first impression of the D5300 camera is definitely favorable. The user manual is easy to understand. When set in auto mode, I found it works like a simple point and click camera that quickly adjusts for different light conditions. To give you a better idea, here are some photos I took with the D5300 right after it arrived, using the auto mode:

Closeup shots:

(click to enlarge)

Low light shot at dusk:

Gear shot:

More photos of the D5300 taken with our AT&T-sponsored Iphone 5:

To quote Austin Powers, "This is one groovy camera baby!"

Cheers, Jason

For more information, check out Nikon's website at http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d5300/index.htm

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Knife used by Creek Stewart on "Fat Guys in the Woods"

Recently, one of our readers emailed us and asked if we knew what kind of knife Creek Stewart uses on the show "Fat Guys in the Woods." Creek, the show's host, also presents this same knife to a participant in each episode, who shows outstanding determination or ingenuity.

After watching a couple of episodes of Fat Guys, I can tell that the knife he is using/presenting is an Ontario Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife with a Hedgehog Leatherworks leather sheath:

I am quite familiar with this knife/sheath because I reviewed both of them here at RMB last June. Check out the review here.

On a side note, "Fat Guys in the Woods" looks to be one of the better survival shows, presenting good survival techniques while keeping outlandish scenarios and over the top drama to a minimum. I was familiar with Creek Stewart prior to the show, and like Cody Lundin, he is the real deal, with many years of teaching survival and bushcraft under his belt.

Cheers, Jason