Thursday, December 29, 2011

Modern Marvels - "Axes" (great video!)


Monday, December 26, 2011

REVIEW: Horseshoe Mountain Firestarters- an excellent firesteel alternative


For bushcrafters and outdoorsmen, carrying a firesteel has one major disadvantage- tinder. With a firesteel, one either has to carry tinder with them or have expert knowledge of local tinder-bearing trees and vegetation in order to start a fire quickly.  If out trekking in winter, this can be an even harder proposition and potentially life threatening. If someone is not carrying tinder (or their tinder gets wet) and gets injured in a place where tinder is unavailable, getting a survival fire going quickly might be next to impossible and could cost them their life.

This is where magnesium firestarters have the advantage over firesteels. With a magnesium device, tinder is always available by scraping the magnesium bar to create fine shavings. These shavings are then easily ignited with the attached flint to produce a flame. Since magnesium burns at a scorching 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit, it will easily ignite fine kindling or feather sticks.

That said, magnesium firestarters haven't always enjoyed the greatest reputation, mainly because earlier versions employed a harder form of magnesium which made it difficult to scrape and had weaker flints that didn't always throw enough sparks to light the shavings easily. I can't speak for all brands, but the magnesium in the Horseshoe Mountain starters is soft and easy to scrape and the attached flints are actually small firesteels, capable of igniting tinder without even using the magnesium shavings.

Another criticism of magnesium starters is that the small shavings get blown away by the wind too easily. Having used magnesium firestarters for many years, I've never had a problem with this because when it's windy, all I do is dig a small pit in the ground with a stick and then scrape the shavings into it. This prevents the wind from blowing away the fine shavings and allows a fire to be built. I believe the advantages of modern magnesium firestarters greatly outweigh any disadvantages compared to that of a firesteel. 

The Firestarters

Based in the mountains of central Utah, family-owned Horseshoe Mountain Firestarters began in 1997 by making magnesium firestarters in their garage as gifts to local Boy Scouts. Eventually word got out about their handy little devices and demand grew, leading local stores and eventually Sportsman's Warehouse to start carrying their line of firestarters. For the review, I tested out three of their models:

(From left to right) 1) Keyring Model 2) Camper 3) Backpacker


Though all three were tested and used to make fire, I wanted to focus on the Keyring model for the review. I've already had extensive experience with the Camper model which I've owned one for almost 2 years, and the Backpacker is just a smaller version of the Keyring model along with a smaller flint. The Keyring model also has the largest flint and is a great size for throwing in your pocket for emergencies.


Here's a size comparison of the three models next to a Light My Fire Scout model firesteel:

 

The Camper model will generally fit into Army-sized firesteel loops as shown on the author's bushcraft sheath:



FIELD TEST

For the test, I split a dead Douglas Fir branch into kindling and created feather sticks with it along with three fire boards to scrape the magnesium onto. These pieces were all split with a branch as a wooden baton and a small knife, so this can be done fairly easy.

A pile of shavings slightly bigger than a quarter was easily scraped off with the supplied hacksaw blade. If you ever use a magnesium starter, always make sure to have your pile no less than quarter-sized or else the flame won't burn long enough or get big enough to get your fire started.




A small rock was then placed on the fire boards to elevate the feather sticks above the shavings and then the feather sticks were piled as close to the magnesium as possible:




Sorry, no action shot as I was striking the flint (my body was completely blocking this area from camera view!). Here's the magnesium a few seconds after ignition:



Success!


CONCLUSION

A big plus for me is that these are quality US made products at a very reasonable price (the three models tested here range from $8-$11). Aside from the good experience I've had with the Camper model that I've owned for a while, owner Jeff Carver says that he's only had one complaint over the years. A customer had a flint break away from one of the magnesium starters (which he promptly replaced), but as luck would have it, found out later that the guy's son had been beating on it with a hammer.  

I can't independently verify this claim, but I can say that my own experience with the test models along with my own Camper model has been very good, enough so that I would put my faith in their products to save my life if needed. 

One negative to note is the nylon carrying case that comes with the Keyring model. It is cheaply made and fell apart within days of testing. I sewed mine back together but we'll see how long it lasts. The device is easily carried without the case because of the attached keyring, but I do recommend that Horseshoe switch to a decent cordura or leather case for durability. The Backpacker and Camper model don't come with a case, so this doesn't affect them obviously. Even with this issue, I think they are great firestarters and well worth the price.


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)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fatwood hunt with an amazing find

My stepson and I went for a day hike last Sunday and part of the path went through a burned out area from an old forest fire. I'm always keeping an eye out for good fatwood but didn't expect to find something this good.

For those unfamiliar with fatwood, (also known in the West as pitchwood or resinwood) it is a natural fire tinder that comes from certain conifer trees after they die an unnatural death (lightning, forest fires, windstorms, cut down by man or by animal, etc).

It is a dark, waxy wood filled with highly concentrated tree resins, that when lit, burns like wood soaked with gasoline. A detailed article about what fatwood is and its historical background is forthcoming so make sure to check back here soon

The Hunt

During the hike, I walked past an old rotted-out Douglas Fir log and saw something suspicious poking out. Upon closer inspection, I knew I had found something significant. The photo below was taken after clearing away some of the bark and other dead wood to get a clearer shot of the suspiciously dark pieces of wood sticking out:


 Closer:


Different angle (note the end is solid resin):


I sawed the log in half with my 18" Corona saw (lots of work!) and look what popped out, two beautifully dark fatwood seams!


Closer view of one of the seams:


Here are some of samples of pieces that were split from the main seam. This is some of the richest and most beautiful fatwood I have EVER seen.


There is so much resin in this fatwood that it sticks to your hands, and the ends occasionally "sweat" just from sitting around. Some of the bars that I cut after these pics were taken are solid black resin. 

I lit a very tiny pile of shavings in my work area on a large metal pan that I use to test fatwood and it almost caught the rug on fire because it was shooting small roman candle-like flares out! It's also the first time that fatwood ever made me sick from the fumes, seriously. It's like somebody poured flammable Hershey's syrup on wood. Definitely the best fatwood I've ever seen!

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)

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 myswissarmyknife.com.au)

 

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 @ hotmail.com (without spaces)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Look out for Chumps with Axes!

I found this hilarious passage about axe safety in a book called Shelters,
Shacks, and Shanties by D.C. Beard written back in 1914. I'm reading this thing all serious and then came to the "chump section." I had no idea this word was being used back then like it is today.

Here it is:

XVIII- HOW TO USE AN AXE

Dangers

"All edged tools are dangerous when in the hands of "chumps," dangerous to themselves and to any one else who is near them. For instance, only a chump will use an axe when its head is loose and is in danger of flying off the handle; only a chump will use his best axe to cut roots or sticks lying flat on the ground where he is liable to strike stones and other objects and take the edge off the blade. Only a chump will leave an axe lying around on the ground for people to stumble over; if there is a stump handy at your camp and you are through using the axe, strike the blade into the top of the stump and leave the axe sticking there, where it will be safe from injury."

Friday, December 9, 2011

REVIEW: Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay Axe



Council Tool is a relative newcomer to the field of boutique axes, with the category being formerly dominated by Swedish axe makers Gransfors Bruks and Wetterlings as well as Maine-based Snow & Neally. Due to the rise in popularity of homesteading, bushcraft and wilderness survival, the axe appears to be making a comeback after decades of obscurity following the invention of the chainsaw. This has influenced longtime makers to introduce the concept of "boutique axes" or axes that are assembled by hand with a high level of fit and finish so that the axe needs no work prior to using. 

Prior to the boutique concept, a person would have to hand select their own axe and then spend several hours with a file, sharpening stones and linseed oil to make the axe head and wooden handle ready for use. Now all that's changed. If you can muster up the dough then you can have a finished axe that is "turnkey," to borrow a term used in the automobile world. Though costing 4-5 times what a cheaply built Chinese-made axe costs, the advantage is that someone without years of experience can buy an axe that is expertly tweaked, finished and ready for use.

Enter Council Tool's Velvicut Hudson Bay Axe. Council is America's oldest continuously operating axe business, originally founded by John Pickett Council in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina back in 1886. Council has managed to survive for so long by providing simple, yet well built tools along with a commitment to customer service. Council has also provided axes to the US Forest Service since at least the 1930s. They continue to forge and assemble their axes in this same little North Carolina town today.


The  Axe

Sporting a two pound, drop forged 5160 polished steel head, 22.5" top grade hickory handle (Grade "A" handle for those new to axe terms) along with a sturdy yet elegant brown leather sheath, the axe is simply stunning:



The size and weight are similar to famed UK bushcrafter Ray Mears' Wilderness Axe (made by Gransfors Bruks of Sweden). In other words, a very compact 3/4 axe. Council felt that this was an optimum size/weight for a packable axe that still had enough oomph to split larger pieces of wood. This was also Mears' thinking when he helped design his wilderness axe. My preference with this head weight is a longer handle, but the shorter handle of the Velvicut does make it easier to use in tight spaces. The axe is also hung in the traditional manner with a wooden wedge and metal pin as opposed to Council's usual manner of an aluminum wedge.

The steel that Council uses for the Velvicut line, 5160, is quite revered in the knife community for having outstanding toughness along with good edge retention. Kudos to them for selecting a steel with these qualities. The axe is advertised as having a Rockwell hardness of 50-54 at the bit (the axe's edge). This particular axe tested in at RC 53. By comparison, the Swedish manufacturers Gransfors Bruks and Wetterlings harden their high carbon steel axe bits in the range of RC 56-58. 

This is a fairly substantial difference. This means that the harder Swedish axes tend to take a finer, sharper edge while also retaining that edge better. The downside is that their harder edges can chip easier, especially when it's cold or if you hit a hard knot in a log while chopping. 

By contrast, Council's softer yet tougher 5160 steel is more resistant to chipping and breaking. The downside is that it won't hold an edge as long and may not get as absolutely sharp as an axe with harder steel. I guess everything is a tradeoff. The obvious advantage to having an axe with softer, tougher steel is in winter, where steel can become overly brittle. In this situation, the lower hardness makes sense. Either way, Council guarantees the head for life. For additional information on this axe's specs, please check out my Initial Impression Review. It also includes photos of the box and brochure as well some additional angle shots.

Performance Testing

I received this axe back in October, and having used it for a couple of months, feel like I have a good sense of its capabilities. I based my review on five specific traits: 1) Chopping ability 2) Splitting ability 3) Balance\Feel 4) Quality of steel and 5) Wood shaping ability for bushcraft\camp duties 

I decided to pit the two pound Council axe against the 1.5lb Wetterlings Large Hunting Axe, also known as the Wetterlings 19.5" Bushcraft Axe. The Wetterlings is a popular axe and has a well deserved reputation for having excellent chopping ability in spite of its smaller size. Even though the Council axe is bigger, I thought they were close enough in overall size to be a good match for each other. 

The bit on the Council axe came roughly paper-cutting sharp and slightly thick, while the Wetterlings, when new, had a thinner edge and was hair- shaving sharp. To ensure fairness, I cleaned up the edge on the Council with a belt sander and then stropped it to get it as sharp as possible. The Wetterlings is my personal user, so it was already sharp and ready to go.

The two competitors side by side:


Head profiles of the two (Council on left):


Closeup (note the thinner edge of the Wetterlings on the right):

 
Chopping

I tested each axe by chopping 30 times into a large seasoned Ponderosa Pine Log. The wider bit and heavier weight of the Council gave it a slight advantage. With a thinner edge I think the Council would have chopped even better. The Wetterlings' thinner edge and smaller cutting surface bit in deeper, but was still bested by the Council axe, thicker edge and all. 

The notch to the left is the Council, the right is the Wetterlings:


Down and dirty! Rough testing the axe by chopping some tough roots to find the magical Elven resinwood from a dead Douglas Fir tree:


Splitting

This log is bigger than what I would normally split with an axe of this size, but I wanted to see what it was capable of. The log to be split was chopped off the main log (shown in the photo) with the Council axe. The technique for splitting shown in these photos is an old woodsman's trick for when no splitting block is available.


First swing: 


Rotating the log to get away from the large knot and then another swing:

Success:


After getting the big piece split, the rest of the wood was easy to reduce into both medium sized and kindling sized pieces:



Wood carving/shaping tasks

For wood carving and shaping, I did two simple and commonly used camping/bushcrafting techniques: 1) Feathersticks for firemaking and 2) carving a tent peg. In these tests, it was quite evident that the extra head weight and thicker edge that helped with splitting duties would make things a bit more tricky when doing finer work. In all fairness, using any 2 pound axe for making feathersticks just isn't my idea of fun anyway. I would certainly suggest carrying a sheath knife with this axe for doing the finer work, but it's also good to know that if the knife was lost then one could still survive with just this axe.


Rough featherstick made with the Council axe:


Pointed end of a tent peg made with the Council axe:



CONCLUSION

All in all, the Council axe performed well, and was exceptional in the splitting category.  I feel it would make a great winter trekking companion in the cold country due to the nature of the steel. I also believe that if the bit was thinned out more it would noticeably increase the chopping and wood carving ability of this axe.

I would like to see Council raise the hardness up to about Rockwell 54-56, which I think is a good compromise between hardness and toughness. That said, its present hardness doesn't hamper its ability to chop and split well. I would however suggest carrying a ceramic sharpening rod to touch up the edge occasionally when doing fine work.

The Velvicut feels well balanced in the hand, and the handle shape is excellent. One of the criticisms I have about Wetterlings is that their handles are too thick. I believe Council is superior to Wetterlings in this respect.

I'd also like to see another sheath option. The supplied sheath is well built, attractive and provides good protection, but I'd like to have an option for one like the sheath I built for it in the photo below. This style is generally easier to use in the field compared to the top loading factory sheath:


What's most significant about this axe is that it's a piece of history. It's the first American-made boutique/bushcraft axe introduced to compete directly with the popular Swedish axes. It is indeed a worthy competitor, and in an age where almost everything in the US seems to be outsourced to China, Council is bucking that trend, and I applaud them for it. 

 4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

April 26th, 2015 UPDATE: Council Tool discontinues 22.5" handled Velvicut Hudson Bay Axe

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, December 6, 2011

(Humor) Can we finally rename "fatwood" for God's sakes?

Ok, this has been stewing in my brain for quite a while. I'm sorry, but I just can't get over it. The name "fatwood" just really bugs the hell out of me. I mean, the first time I ever heard it I thought it was something from the movie Deliverance. I just had this picture in my head of that rapist guy in the movie saying "Now I want you to squeal like a pig while you're picking up that pile of fatwood!" 

It's also not fair to the wood. I mean come on, how would you like to be handsome, flammable and full of beautiful resins and just be called "fatwood?"  Shouldn't we call it overweightwood, big people wood or even plus-sized wood? Wouldn't this be the right thing to do?

It's gotten so bad that the International Fatwood Association lodged a complaint with Washington yesterday and plans to start an Occupy Fatwood movement until the name is changed. It could be violent folks. Imagine when the cops move in to try and beat the fatwooders and all of them ignite their 5 trillion tons of fatwood at once? Washington as we know it could dissapear in a puff of smoke. What started the complaint was a nasty photo circulated by the Hardwood Association showing what they believed was a typical fatwooder based on the name:


The fatwooders thought they looked perfectly fine the way they were, not like fatwood man. What a travesty of justice.

So I say change the name already. Call it "resinwood" or the old term "pitchwood." Fatwood has suffered long enough under such a discriminatory name and we owe it to the wood to give it the dignity it deserves before we light it on fire and then laugh our arses off as it turns into another smoking cauldron of black goo.

REVIEW: The new Fiskars X7 Hatchet- budget Gransfors Bruks killer?


Now that I've had a couple of weeks to fiddle with Fiskar's new X7 Hatchet, I wanted to write a review on it. Fiskars touts the new X-series as having a number of improvements over the older versions of Fiskars axes and hatchets, such as:

  • Better Balance 
  • Improved Chopping Performance 
  • A Hardened Bit with a hardness of 55 RC (info lifted from a reseller of the new Gerber II series axes which are rebranded Fiskars X-Series axes and hatchets) 
  • Revised handle with rubberization to improve comfort and grip retention

The X7 also has a newer style plastic sheath. It seems much sturdier than the older plastic holders which fell apart after awhile. The newer plastic model appears to be a permanent sheath solution.

 

The new X7 (pictured left) sports a narrower bit, a larger handle with rubberization towards the end, and is 1/4 inch shorter in length.


Here are the specs I measured on new vs old:

Fiskars X7
Weight- 22.6 ounces (without plastic sheath)
Length- 14"
Head Weight- 1.28lbs

Country of origin- Made in Finland
 
Older Fiskars 14" Hatchet
Weight- 18.7 ounces (without plastic sheath)
Length- 14.25"
Head Weight- 1lb
Country of origin- Made in Finland

Note the shallower angle of the Scandi grind on the edge of the new X7. Also, the metal from the axe head flares out more to protect the plastic during splitting chores compared to the older model. (Please note, the brighter metal along the edge is not from chopping but from my sharpening job with sandpaper and leather strop)


Older Fiskars hatchet showing closeup of wider Scandi grind and shallower transition between metal hatchet head and plastic:


Side by side comparison (X7 on left, older model on right). Also note the larger hammer poll on the newer X7, which improves the balance and the ease of camp chores like pounding tent stakes, etc.


Side by side comparison of profile of the two (X7 is on the left). Aside from changes in the cutting edge angle and the increased head size and weight, I see no major changes here other than a slightly steeper angle on the head leading towards the cutting edge.


PERFORMANCE TESTING

In testing the X7's performance, I wanted it to go head to head with one of the widely regarded standards in the field, the Wetterlings Wildlife Hatchet. I chose this hatchet over the lighter Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet because it is closer in size to the X7, including head weight (within 0.2 ounces of each other) and overall length. In fact, the X7 and Wetterlings are so closely matched that the Wetterlings sheath fit almost perfectly on the X7! I felt that if this hatchet could best the heavier Wetterlings, it was a given that it would easily trounce the lighter Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet.

For the review, I'm using a rebranded Wetterlings Wildlife Hatchet marketed under Husqvarna, as both hatchets are literally identical except for the markings. Both the Wetterlings and the X7 were sharpened to shaving sharp before testing to ensure that the results wouldn't be skewed by one having a dull blade, etc.

Here's a photo of the two side by side:


Now, on to the performance!

To measure performance, I conducted two tests, making feathersticks and chopping logs. I left out splitting because I don't think splitting performance is much changed from the older Fiskars to the new X7. The older model and The Wetterlings were about equal in my experience, so for testing purposes, we'll assume this is unchanged.

In making feathersticks, I really thought the Wetterlings would beat the X7, but to my suprise, the X7 carved a little easier.

Featherstick made with the X7:


Featherstick made with the Wetterlings:


CHOPPING

I tested the X7 against the Wetterlings by chopping 25 times each into a piece of seasoned hardwood that I picked up from a local property owner. Don't ask me what this stuff is, but it's really heavy considering that it's mostly dry! Much heavier than the Douglas Fir and Pine that normally grows up here.

This is 25 chops into it with my trusty Wetterlings hatchet:


And 25 chops with the X7. I was amazed that this crazy Star Wars looking hatchet could chop so well. Huge wood chunks flew, almost like when I chop with my 19" Wetterlings bushcraft axe! The photo doesn't really do justice to what I saw in person, but it's the best photo I could get before the snow started falling (yes, snow in April!)


NOTE- To see the X7 go head-to-head with the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet, click HERE

SUMMARY

My impression after using this hatchet is that it's simply phenomenal at any price. I haven't used the hatchet over a long period of time so I can't say for sure if Fiskars fixed the problem with the overly soft steel on the older ones, but so far it does seem that the steel is stronger. Edge retention was as good as the Wetterlings in testing, and I even chopped into some knots just to see if the X7's edge would chip or roll. The edge has stayed perfect and is still super sharp. If this changes I'll post an update to this review.

As far as shaping wood for bushcraft tasks was concerned, i.e. tent pegs, wooden implements, etc. the X7 slightly outperformed the Wetterlings as it did with making feathersticks. This was another surprise.

As for the feel of the X7, it is much more comfortable with the new shape and rubberized handle. Handle retention is also better than most hatchets I've used. The rubberized handle portion reduces shock in addition to adding grip, so I think Fiskars hit a home run with this change.


I'm so impressed with this hatchet that I'm going to give the Wetterlings a break for a spell and start carrying the X7 in the bush, as the greater performance for the same weight just can't be denied. I'll still hang onto and use my Wetterlings since I enjoy the traditional look and feel of it, but for now, the X7 looks to be my new woods companion in the backcountry.

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About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, a blog that features articles, news stories, outdoor tips and product reviews written from a bushcraft and wilderness survival perspective. Schwartz 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. He has also written for 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 Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)