Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Outdoor Retailer Show, Winter 2013 Report!

The bi-annual Outdoor Retailer Show (OR) in Salt Lake City, Utah is like a SHOT Show for all the other outdoor gear you can think of. While SHOT Show focuses on guns, knives, archery, law enforcement, military and hunting equipment, the OR Show features gear related to hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and the like. In other words, it's huge!

Just as SHOT Show was overwhelming, so was the OR Show. What made OR even more difficult though, was having to explain what "bushcraft" was. Apparently, I must have been the first bushcraft blogger to attend an OR Show, because many people looked at me like I had three heads when they read my press pass which said "bushcraft." So I ended up having to keep repeating a "speech" about what bushcraft was several hundred times before the show was over. I found that people got the idea the quickest when I mentioned it was similar to the "Man vs Wild" or "Dual Survival" shows. Once they had an idea of what it was, most people seemed really interested.

Attendance-wise, OR was smaller than SHOT Show, but it still had over 20,000 attendees and filled two floors. No celebrities were in attendance, but it was populated by all the interesting people who invent, design and test the outdoor gear that bushcrafters, backpackers and outdoorsman hold so near and dear to their hearts. I think what I enjoyed most about OR was being able to talk directly to these designers and offer feedback. 

Many of the CEO's and Marketing Directors of these outdoor companies were also present, and it was fun to chat with them about what bushcrafting is and why it's becoming an important consumer market. Most were completely unaware of this growing movement, so I was lucky enough to be able to give my perspective to the leaders and PR people of heavy-hitters like Marmot, North Face, Mountain HardwearOutdoor ResearchColumbia Sportswear, Cascade Designs and many more. There was an overwhelmingly positive response, so I hope to see this translate into more bushcraft-friendly gear from major companies in the future.

Me with the crew from Liberty Bottleworks- these guys are hardcore patriots and proud of the fact that their bottles are 100% US made. Definitely some cool guys to hang out with!

Kerri Dellisanti of Cascade Designs, showing me MSR's new 2013 Reactor Stove System (look for our review this summer).

Me with George Chevalier of Princeton Tec, holding a cool new Princeton Tec Vizz 150 Lumen Headlamp that will be released in the Spring (check back for our review in a couple of months).

Sean Leslie of Outdoor Research. Check out the review we did on Outdoor Research's Mt Baker Mitts last year.

I ran into Julia Kalthoff (CEO of Wetterlings Axes) again. Looks like I was smoking wacky bushcraft weed or something, what the heck!

Justin Roth from Petzl showing me a very trick new Tikka RXP headlamp that automatically adjusts brightness to light conditions, and has a built-in red LED to prevent loss of night vision.

Besides keeping my eye out for cool new gear that bushcrafters might like, I was on the look out for more made-in-the-USA gear. I'm happy to say I ran into five more companies that make some or all of their products in the USA- Hanz Legendary Extremity Wear (waterproof socks and gloves), Adventure Medical Kits (their new space tarp is 100% made in the USA), Smith Optics, Princeton Tec and Stormy Kromer. I definitely plan to include them in our upcoming reviews and articles.

Cascade Designs, which includes the MSR and Therm-A-Rest brands, has been manufacturing their stoves, snowshoes and sleeping pads/mattresses in the US since the 1970s -- show them your support!

I also got to meet some fellow bloggers/journalists at the show, including Matt Minich of Bootprints.com, and Cameron Ownbey of Seattle Backpackers Magazine. Turns out that Cameron reads and enjoys some of our blog posts-- very cool! I'd also like to say a special thanks to Alex from SOAR Media for his help and advice on navigating my way around OR!

More cool stuff

Below is the Helle Knives\Wetterlings exhibit. Apparently there is great interest from mainstream retailers to start carrying Swedish axes and Scandinavian bushcraft knives, according to Matt Huff at Sport Hansa (Helle USA) and Julia Kalthoff of Wetterlings. Note how thin the display is after retailers came and snapped up their samples!

Julia Kalthoff chatting with Steve Norris of Hennessy Hammocks

Paracord bracelets seem to be all the rage these days. There were several paracord companies present, including Bison Designs from Longmont, Colorado, that has an interesting selection of bracelets which include survival tools woven into them, like fishing string, hooks, mini-firesteels, etc.

The crew from the Dr. Scholl's Footwear exhibit didn't have anything bushcraft-related, but they were a riot to talk to! They were really interested in what I do here at RMB, so I gave them some Colorado pitchwood, which they were excited to try out when they got back home. Thanks again to the Dr. Scholl's crew for putting a smile on my face that day!

Final thoughts.......

Just like the SHOT Show, the Outdoor Retailer Show was overwhelming and delightful at the same time. Being able to meet so many people who've devoted their lives to providing the best outdoor gear is something I'll always cherish. It was also an honor to be able to introduce the concept of what we write about to many who are influential in the industry, and I hope this will ultimately lead to wider knowledge and awareness of the wonderful skills we call "bushcraft."

For more information about the Winter OR Show, visit their website at: www.outdoorretailer.com/winter-market

Mora FireKnife firesteel replacements now available on Industrial Revolution's website

They're finally here folks! Replacement firesteels for the popular Mora FireKnife are now available on Industrial Revolution's website.

Direct link to buy: http://shop.industrialrev.com/p/swedish-fireknife-replacement-firesteel?pp=12&pp=12

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SHOT Show 2013 Report!

If I could use just one word to describe SHOT Show, it would be "wow!" When I heard it was large and that lots of companies would be there, it still didn't prepare me for what I would experience. Not only was every big name gun, knife, and hunting apparel company there, but also plenty of companies I had never heard of, many of which were from Europe and beyond. SHOT Show is literally a "Toys R Us" for people who are into firearms, edged tools, and hunting related products. Trying to see it all in three days, though overwhelming, was one of the most exciting and memorable experiences I've ever had.

One of the first things you notice when you walk into SHOT Show is the sheer enormity of it -- 1,600 exhibitors on two different levels spanning 630,000 square feet, along with an estimated 60,000 attendees. Just figuring out where a particular company is located can be a real challenge. An eight hour day of this kind of trekking makes you feel like you've gone on a high endurance mountain hike!


Since this was my first SHOT Show, I was overwhelmed by not only the number of exhibitors and new products, but also by the sheer number of big name "movers and shakers" in the outdoor industry. Each year, SHOT Show is attended by a veritable "who's who" of outdoor celebrities, CEOs, Industry PR Reps, knife and firearms designers, as well as major press outlets\bloggers. Trying to stay focused on covering the show, along with checking out any bushcraft-friendly products, proved much harder than I anticipated.

Some of the celebrities in attendance included Steven Seagal, Ted Nugent, Les Stroud and Mykel Hawke.

A wide range of industry leaders were also in attendance. I was lucky enough to meet some of them, including Leatherman founder Tim Leatherman, Julia Kalthoff (CEO of Wetterlings Axes), Yvonne Caruso (President of Grand Forest/Gransfors Bruks USA), Paul Scheiter (Founder of Hedgehog Leatherworks), Bob Carpenter (President of Puma Knives USA), and Scott Glaser (CEO of Lansky Sharpeners), among others.

I was able to send most of these head honchos/honchoettes on their way with a nice sample of Colorado Ponderosa and Douglas Fir fatwood fire tinder. Lucky for me, it was a popular gift, with a typical "wow, this stuff smells great!" response. Hah, I will turn these bigwigs into bushcrafters yet!

Julia Kalthoff, CEO of Wetterlings (yes, she's wearing the Ponderosa pitchwood necklace I gave her!)

I think I made some corny joke about Swedish bushcrafters

Yes guys, Julia is as charming and beautiful in person as the photos suggest (who doesn't love a lady with an axe!!!). I think I was still cracking a joke with Julia when Anders from Helle Knives snapped this photo, hence my blurry face. Be sure to check out my upcoming post regarding my conversation with Julia about Wetterlings axes!

The lovely Yvonne Caruso, President of Gransfors Bruks USA 

Me with Bob Carpenter, president (left) and Chris Lalik, vice-president (right) of Puma Knives USA (this shot was taken by a nice bystander who wasn't familiar with my camera, so it came out a little blurry).

Paul Scheiter, founder of Hedgehog Leatherworks and designer of Ontario's Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife. Paul was a great guy to talk to and admitted that he's getting into axes lately (yes!).

Paul is going to send us one of his cool leather survival sheaths to test soon, and we will be including it in our upcoming Blackbird knife field review. Here is Paul showing me his personal Blackbird SK-5 and Hedgehog sheath:

Below is Joe Flowers, outdoor writer extraordinaire and knife/axe/machete designer for Condor and TOPS Knives, showing me some of his new designs. Joe and I have corresponded in the past, so it was nice to finally meet him in person.

A couple of years ago, I was rather critical of Condor axes' design and quality control, but I have to say that lately, they are making some really quality stuff. For 2013, Joe is making their axes with thinner bits, better quality control, and more consistent handle grain.

He also showed me a new Condor Parang Machete with a nicely shaped, comfortable polymer handle. I'm more of an axe\hatchet guy, but this Parang really impressed me as a potential wood-processing tool for summer bushcraft excursions. Check back as summer approaches and I should have a review posted on this cool new tool.

More Highlights

Below is Amy Terai, marketing manager for Filson Clothing, and Travis Gillet, Filson's new Social Media Specialist. Amy and Travis are very enthusiastic about Filson products and were a blast to talk to! They even let me try on a new, hip-looking prototype wool jacket, due to be released later this year, that might interest bushcrafters. Check out some of our Filson reviews here.

Harald from Puma Knives Germany showing his incredibly tiny Puma fixed blade:

Joe Teti's knife, the TOPS SURV-TAC 7 (thanks to Leo at the TOPS Knives exhibit for allowing me take this photo):

More cool stuff

Some of the cool people I met at SHOT Show, besides the folks already mentioned, include Adam of Equipped to Endure, and the staff from WoodsMonkey.com (great site for reviews and articles).

It turns out Billy over at Lansky Sharpeners is a fan of our blog and quite an adept woodsman/bushcrafter. Billy is a really cool guy and hopes to market more products geared towards bushcrafters and axe enthusiasts in the coming years. I also ran into a couple of LAPD SWAT Team members who read our blog. Very cool!


Are hatchets making a comeback? Based on the number of them I saw on display at the show, it certainly seems that way. Bear Grylls is even releasing his own signature hatchet next month- who'd a thunk it?

Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet- Have hatchets gone wild?

Speaking of Bear Grylls...... Next month, Gerber is releasing a new "Pro" version of the Ultimate Knife called the "Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival Knife." It features upgraded 9CRMoV Chinese Stainless steel, (similar to American 440C), full tang construction, a louder whistle, a longer and slightly more robust firesteel, as well as a revised sheath, which includes a new fixed "V" style sharpener ala' Gerber's LMF Military Survival Knife. The street price is expected to be around $80. Look for our review on the Ultimate Pro Knife and Bear Grylls Hatchet soon!

While I was at the Gerber Gear exhibit, I was able to speak with several members of Gerber's product design team regarding the new Pro knife. They said they are considering creating an American made version of the Ultimate knife that will be more toned down (meaning no "BG" on the grip), and they are looking for feedback through Rocky Mountain Bushcraft and other knife-related sites as to whether or not there is consumer demand for such a product. My opinion? I think it would be awesome to have a knife like that! Gerber will be checking this post for feedback from time to time, so make sure to leave a comment below if you want to see this knife brought to life!

Benchmade Bushcrafter

As mentioned in a post here last month, Benchmade has introduced a new knife called the "Bushcrafter." 

Below is Ryan McGinnis of Benchmade showing me the Bushcrafter. My first impression was favorable, and I really liked the feel of the handle. Benchmade has promised to send us out a Bushcrafter for review, so make sure to keep checking back to see our field test of this interesting new bushcraft knife!

Mora Black Carbon Bushcraft knife now comes with Mora's Survival Sheath

For 2013, the popular Mora Black Carbon will come packaged with Mora's Survival Sheath, which includes a diamond sharpener and Mora's excellent Army-sized firesteel. Though it will add roughly $10-$15 to the street price, I think the pairing of these two is an excellent idea, and it's how I've been carrying my Black Carbon since my review of it last November.

Final thoughts......

Even a few days later, thinking back on the products, the people and the sheer enormity of SHOT Show, all I can say is "WOW!" Can't wait till next year........

For more information about the SHOT Show, visit www.nssf.org/SHOT/

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 8, 2013

Headed to SHOT Show next week!

Dear readers,

I am heading off to SHOT Show in Las Vegas next week! Rocky Mountain Bushcraft was given internet press credentials to cover it, and I am excited to say the least. My focus will be to snoop out any bushcraft-related gear and edged tools, and I will be checking out .22 caliber survival rifles as well. All the major knife companies will be there, along with Swedish axe companies Wetterlings and Gransfors Bruks.

I've never been to SHOT Show before. I've heard it's very intense, but also exciting. If any readers are attending and would like to meet me, just look for a guy with an outdoors hat (with blonde locks poking out) carrying a backpack, looking like he just crawled out of the mountains!



Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Made in the USA" Review: Gerber EZ Out 3.5" Folding Knife (Fine Edge)

Several years ago, I tried just about every popular one-handed folding knife on the market, hoping to find the perfect EDC/Ultralight backpacking folder for when I couldn't carry the weight of a fixed blade knife.

I tried Buck Vantage folders (great knives, but heavy, and the striations on the blade from the machining process made certain foods stick to the blade unnecessarily), Kershaws (high quality, but never cared for the "s" curves in their blades or their stiff liner locks), Benchmades (Griptilians have a knob that would catch inside my pocket and open the blade, the grind angle never carved wood very well, and the steel was always hard to sharpen), Spydercos (Excellent folders, but they are 3x times the price of the Gerber).

I also tried offerings from Cold Steel, Ontario and several other companies. None seemed to fulfill all of my requirements. I needed a simple, light-weight folder that was snag free in the pocket, an excellent wood carver, had a good blade-finish for processing food, functioned reliably, was comfortable in the hand, AND was affordable.

I was just about ready to give up my search, when one day, while perusing the knife display at a local outdoors store, I spotted a rather dusty-looking EZ Out lying inconspicuously behind some flashier Cold Steel and Benchmade knives. Curious, I asked the clerk to show me this mystery Gerber model.

I held it tightly in my hand (to get a feel for the grip), flicked it open a few times, and brushed the blade with the tip of my thumb to check the sharpness of the factory edge. The knife turned out to be surprisingly comfortable and sharp, opened easily with one-hand (without any button, knob or protrusion to snag inside my pants pocket), had a sturdy looking pocket clip, and was made in the USA, all for under $30. I told the clerk to hand that knife over --- sold!


Overall Length: 7.89" 
Blade Length: 3.52" 
Closed Length: 4.56" 
Weight: 2.6 oz. 
Lock Mechanism: Lock back 
Blade Style: Clip Point 
Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel
Blade Type: Fine Edge
Handle Material: Glass-filled nylon with Softgrip Inserts 
Opening Style: One-handed opening
Country of origin: Made in Portland, Oregon USA


The EZ Out features a one-handed opening 3.5" blade made from 420HC stainless steel, Zytel handle, and a stainless pocket clip. The blade is secured by a simple but sturdy lock-back mechanism when open. There is also a lanyard hole drilled through the end of the handle.

Field Performance

At only 2.6 ounces and packing a 3.5" blade, the EZ Out makes for an excellent ultralight hiking/camping/backpacking folder as well as a great EDC blade. The blade itself is a semi-flat ground drop-point with a secondary bevel. The angle of the grind is a bit more aggressive than what is found on a Benchmade, for instance. This makes the Gerber an excellent cutting tool, almost on the level of a Mora Bushcraft knife, as evidenced by the featherstick I carved with it below:

(click to enlarge)

Edge retention is actually very respectable considering the 420HC stainless Gerber uses. In spite of the steel type it also sharpens easily, usually a difficult task with 400-series stainless folders. My guess is that Gerber uses a superior heat treat to accomplish this.

The blade steel is also tough and chip resistant. I've used my EZ Out in extreme cold and have even carved through knots to test it, and have never experienced a chip or rolling of the edge. Once again, for such an affordable price, I think this is a huge positive. I've never felt I was missing having a more expensive folder with a hard to sharpen "Super Steel," like the S30V, while carrying the EZ Out. In fact, I've owned a couple of big name S30V folders and both of their blades chipped during hard use.

Blade Finish

Gerber's trademark bead blasted matte blade finish is probably one of the best finishes available for an EDC folding knife, as it cleans easily, resists staining and scratching and doesn't rub off or dull. In fact, out of all the folding blades I've used, the Gerber finish is the best I've found for easy cleaning after food preparation.

Pocket Clip

The pocket clip isn't a deep carry style clip, but it is secure and makes the EZ more accessible when you need to grab it fast without fumbling around, like some clips.


There are three minor issues that some hardcore EDC folding knife enthusiasts might notice; 1) The EZ Out opens fairly easily one-handed, but it's definitely not as easy and smooth to open as a Benchmade or a Spyderco. It's not enough of a difference to have bothered me, even though I've owned several folders from those companies. I still think the EZ is easy to open compared to most folders. 2) As noted in the photo above, the pocket clip is obviously not a deep carry pocket clip like the clips on Buck Vantage knives, for instance, but since I EDC in a fairly rural, mountainous area of Colorado, it's never been an issue as far as it showing in my pocket. When I visit more knife-sensitive places, I just slip the EZ inside my pocket. The EZ is flat and very light, so it's comfortable even when carried this way. 3) The simple lock-back design is strong, but makes it a little harder to close one-handed. I've gotten used to closing the EZ by pressing it against my leg while holding down the lock-back button. It's actually easy to do once you get used to it.


If you factor in its affordable price, Gerber's 3.5" EZ Out Folder just might be the best ultralight folder on the market. That's a pretty bold statement, especially considering the plethora of different brands and models of folding knives out there. But having owned an EZ Out and used it hard for several years, I stand by this statement. I just can't think of a better folder on the market for under $50. Try it for yourself and I think you'll come to the same conclusion. Plus, the American workers making these knives in Gerber's Portland facility will thank you too.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

For more info visit www.gerbergear.com/Essentials/Knives/E-Z-Out-Skeleton_06701

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)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How did Joe Teti do in his first Dual Survival show?

So what's the verdict on Joe Teti's debut on the "Mars on Earth" episode of Dual Survival? Personally, I felt the show was respectable enough that I'd like to see more. No, Joe doesn't have quite the charisma of former host Dave Canterbury, and his goofy, Bear Gryllish "pissing in his helmet and drinking it" stunt was rather amusing, if misguided, but there is promise.

"Cody, I have some for you too-- would you like it straight from the tap or from the helmet?"

The other "say what?!" moment was when Joe insisted to Cody that they only burn "one stick at a time" to keep warm because of limited firewood. What in the heck is the military teaching people in its SERE School these days? As Cody pointed out in the show, you can't burn one stick at a time without a coal/ember bed beneath the stick to raise it to combustion temperature.

Joe Teti- "We burn this shi*** one stick at a time" - huh?

Even with these oddball moments, the show was still entertaining and informative. Joe's trick of twisting a parachute and its cordage into a usable climbing rope, allowing the two to rappel 50 feet and escape their predicament, was actually pretty trick. The personality clashes between Joe and Cody were also quite dramatic, but I expect this to tone down a bit as the show progresses, just as it did when Dave and Cody got to know each other better in Season One.

Hold on tight dude!


Dave Canterbury will be missed by many. He was unique and added greatly to the show's chemistry, but for now, I'm willing to give the new guy a try. I think I'll check out a few more episodes before delivering a final verdict.

What did you think of Joe Teti's debut? Leave a comment below, or stop by and visit our Facebook page and share your thoughts!