Sunday, December 18, 2011

The author's original bushcraft tools dug out after many years of gathering dust!

I had been looking for my original bushcraft tools for years now to no avail. I finally found the cotton pickin things in a box within a box recently after giving them up for lost. Within this dusty box I found an old weather-worn copy of Larry Dean Olsen's classic "Outdoor Survival Skills", a very scraped down Safesport Magnesium Firestarter and my original Victorinox Swiss Champ with the SOS sheath, broken compass and all! 

I originally bought the book back in 1987 and used it to as a how-to guide when I spent time in Colorado's Pike National Forest as a teenager. Robert Redford read "Outdoor Survival Skills" prior to filming Jeremiah Johnson and was so impressed that he invited Olsen to become the film's technical director. I tried almost every skill I could from that book, including the hot rocks under dirt technique to keep my bed warm at night (it was October in the Rockies) and of course woke up with my clothes smoking just like in the Jeremiah Johnson movie. Hurt like hell! Now I make sure to always put more dirt down!

Here's my well used copy originally published in 1973:

Back in the 1980s, magnesium fire starters weren't as well known as they are today and were a very interesting gadget. I mean come on, a metal that catches fire and burns, how cool is that! Here's my old Safesport model:

Note the striker is almost completely worn down. This is the result of an inexperienced teenaged kid trying to figure out how to use the thing!

The Swiss Champ SOS was certainly not my first knife (got my first Swiss Army knife at age 8) but definitely one of my favorites. A Christmas gift from my dad in the late 80s, it was probably the best thing he ever gave me. It was a big honkin' Swiss Army knife with every gadget you could imagine along with a sheath that had everything you could imagine. We're talkin' the Rambo all-in-one survival knife of Switzerland here!

Here's a pic of Swiss Champ's tools, survival goodies and SOS sheath (photo courtesy of


Many great memories with these. Thanks to Larry Dean Olsen, Victorinox, Safesport and of course, my dad.

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 @ (without spaces)


  1. Very cool post, Jason. I too, got a Swiss Champ as a gift in 1985. Still have it - the knife and the sheath are in pretty good shape, albeit very worn.

    Their were no ferrocerium or mischmetal rods of any importance back in the 80s. Those magnesium bars were about it. I very early learned the trick of shaving the magnesium onto the sticky side of a strip of 100 MPH duct tape. It kept it from blowing around and made firestarting much easier.

  2. Thanks CRCO. I still love my Swiss Champ after all these years, great knife. Good tip about the duct tape. I usually dig a pit if it's windy and then make a wind break, but duct tape sounds easier!

    Cheers, CW