Monday, June 30, 2014

Our new Pinterest Board!


Some of you are probably already familiar with Pinterest, but for those who aren't, it's a place where people can share topics of interest by "pinning" eye-catching photos linked to a topic they want to share. Pinterest has been around for a couple of years, but has really taken off over the past 12 months or so. After you see it, its not hard to understand why. It's a really unique and interesting place to check out articles, reviews, how-to's, etc.

RMB readers have been pinning our stuff there for over a year, so we collected them all and put them into one board to share with you. To all of our readers and Pinterest followers- thank you!

Our Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/rockymtnbush/rocky-mountain-bushcraft-reader-pins/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hultafors Classic Hunting Axe and Mini-Trekking Axe


I had mentioned in our recent Ontario Blackbird knife review that some of our photos got misplaced during the confusion that came with a wildfire here back in the summer of 2012. While I was digging out the Blackbird field test photos, I ran into some more goodies in the archives......

During that summer, I did some field testing on a couple of Hultafors "Classic Line" Axes, specifically, their 20" Hunting Axe (2lb head), and their Mini-Trekking Axe (a 1.25lb hand hatchet). The quality of these axes is excellent, and similar to that of Gransfors Bruks axes. They are what I like to call "Elven-like" in their build quality and mystique, and would fit perfectly into a Lord of the Rings movie. Did all the Elves move from Middle Earth to Sweden when we weren't looking, just to make axes?



One of the surprises I found when using these axes is just how well they perform when doing fine carving tasks. The curved edge design makes them without a doubt the best finest carving axes/hatchets I've tested. In fact, I became "addicted" to the little Mini-Trekking Axe, spending hours at my base camp carving with it and not wanting to put it down. They also chop great too. The steel quality is similar to Gransfors Bruks, and just like Gransfors, they came razor sharp, and held a great edge. Enjoy!

Carving with the Mini-Trekking Axe




Aspen-bark spoon carved with the Mini-Trekking Axe:

20" Hunting Axe


A tiny featherstick carved free-hand using the Hunting Axe:



The Hunting Axe easily chopped this dead pine tree in half:

For more information visit www.hultafors.com/products/cutting


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)

Slumberjack reinvents itself as SJK Tactical Hunting


Longtime outdoor gear company changes name to "SJK Tactical Hunting," sets sights on hunting market with cutting edge gear

SLUMBERJACK PRESS RELEASE:

After 57 years of manufacturing sleeping bags, tents, and various other camp essentials, Slumberjack is reinventing itself as SJK Tactical Hunting, offering a new for 2014 line of hunt-specific packs and tree stand bags.

BOULDER, COLO. (For Immediate Release) – After 57 years designing and developing outdoor gear for outdoor enthusiasts, Slumberjack is evolving, changing names, and setting its sights on the tactical hunting market. Launching for 2014, the new SJK Tactical Hunting Gear brand will offer a complete line of Kryptek® camouflage packs and tree stand bags designed specifically to give hunters a tactical edge on any hunt.

SJK Tactical Hunting Gear’s new for fall 2014 line appeals to an emerging market of tactical hunters, introducing cutting edge features and functionality into every product. Lightweight materials, durable construction, cutting edge Kryptek® camouflage, and an extensive amount of input from our professional hunting guide partners at Outback Outdoors, combine to create some of the most advanced equipment available.

“The hunting community is rapidly evolving, moving towards a more tactical approach to their outdoor experience, and we are leaders in this trend, addressing the needs of the emerging market with cutting edge equipment,” said Russell Rowell, Vice President of SJK Tactical Hunting Gear. “Our shift from Slumberjack to SJK Tactical Hunting meets the needs of the new tactical hunting customer with products that feature materials and technology designed specifically for the modern hunter.”


About SJK Tactical Hunting Gear:

SJK Tactical Hunting Gear represents the evolution of the tried and true Slumberjack camping brand, offering hunters and outdoor enthusiasts a new approach to hunting and overnighting in the outdoors. SJK Tactical Hunting Gear offers a complete line of hunting-specific backpacks and tree stand bags to maximize success on any hunt. For anyone interested in a fun and accessible camping experience, SJK will continue to provide roomy tents, comfortable sleeping bags, and go-anywhere furniture. From tactical hunters to campers, SJK has the gear needed to get the most out of any wilderness experience. For media information on SJK, please contact scott.kaier@americanrec.com

RMB NOTE: I got to check out some of SJK's new gear earlier this year at SHOT Show 2014, including their new line of hunting packs and Thermal Cloak Treestand Bag. SJK sent us out test samples of their new Thermal Cloak and Snare 2000 Pack, and I was very impressed. Although they are designed for hunters, their features and rugged construction make them excellent candidates for bushcrafting.

(click to enlarge)





Thermal Cloak Treestand Bag:


 Thermal Treestand Cloak inside stuffsack:

From what I've seen in field testing so far, the SJK gear appears to be of excellent quality. Check out our Facebook post showing initial field testing of the Thermal Cloak in bitter -20F weather. It performed brilliantly. Expect to see a field review of both products as Fall approaches.

It's always sad to see a company with such a long history go away, but it's exciting to see SlumberJack reinvent itself with a new direction and cool new products.

Cheers, Jason

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Backpackable Shotgun for Bushcraft/Off the Grid - Baikal MP220 Double Barrel Coach Gun




The SPECS: 

Manufacturer: Baikal/Saiga
Country of Manufacture: Russia
Gauge: 12 & 20 Gauge
Chamber: 2 3/4"
Barrel Length: 20"
Barrel Type: Hammer Forged Carbon Steel w/Chrome Lined Barrels
Choke: Cylinder Bore/No Choke
Triggers: Double Triggers
Safety: Tang Safety
Weight: 6lbs 4oz (as measured on a USPS Postal Scale)
Length of Pull: 14"





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Rocky Mountain Bushcraft would like to wish everyone a very happy Father's Day!

In the spirit of this occasion, I'd like to thank my dad for the all the good times we shared-


As a kid, my father took me camping, fishing, hiking and shooting every chance he got. He also turned me on to the amazing film Jeremiah Johnson , which helped inspire my interest in bushcraft and wilderness survival.

Sadly, he passed way at the age of 47, but his legacy lives on through Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, thanks to his guidance and inspiration- thanks Dad!

Cheers, Jason

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Made in the USA" FIELD REVIEW: Ontario Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Bushcraft

Okay readers, here is the long overdue field review of the Ontario Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife. We originally got the Blackbird in the middle of a major wildfire back in 2012, and due to everything going on at the time, we never posted the field testing part of the review. While digging through the RMB photo archives recently, I found the original field test photos from the Summer of 2012 and wanted to get them posted ASAP.

This review will focus on the Blackbird's development and performance. Rocky Mountain Bushcraft covered the Blackbird's technical features in our First Impression Review back in May 2012. You can check it out here.

The Knife


The Ontario Blackbird is the brainchild of Paul Scheiter, a young entrepreneur, survival expert and leather-making prodigy. Paul took the survival world by storm back in 2009 with his innovative Hedgehog Leatherworks survival knife sheaths. The Hedgehog sheaths are unique because of their patented shock-cord laced retention strap system, which automatically springs open the straps when you unbutton them.

Hedgehog Leatherworks Blackbird sheath:

The retention straps pop open when unbuttoned, allowing the knife to be inserted into the sheath without fear of cutting the straps:


Paul's unique retention strap system, along with his sheath's high quality, heavy duty construction, has made Hedgehog sheaths popular with world adventurers, military personnel and others who need maximum durability and reliability.


As Paul's reputation grew, he eventually caught the eye of famed New York survival knife company Ontario Knives, and teamed up with them in 2011 to create the Blackbird SK-5 Survival Knife, the subject of this field review. 

Simplicity in Design

Paul says he designed the Blackbird with a simple philosophy in mind-- "achieve maximum function, delivered through pure simplicity." He goes on to say "I believe that the less complicated a product is, the better it will perform when your life depends on it. The Blackbird SK-5 is comfortable to use, has ideal cutting geometry, and is extremely durable... all of the things necessary for the most demanding wilderness survival tasks."

Paul's design turned out to be a big hit, earning the coveted Field and Stream "Best of the Best" Award in 2011. The Blackbird went on to become popular among Youtube knife reviewers, wilderness survival enthusiasts, and members of the prepper community.

Much has already been written about the Blackbird, but what I wanted to find out in my field testing was- 1) How does the Blackbird perform as a bushcraft knife and wilderness survival tool? and 2) How tough is it? 

FIELD TEST!

Batoning

To test the Blackbird's ability to handle batoning, I selected a log from the base of a branch on a large, old growth Ponderosa Pine. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, this stuff is the toughest, most twisted wood in the RMB test area, and has broken or bent the edges of several machetes and survival knives over the years. If it can handle this stuff, it can handle almost anything!

I call these 'evil' logs for a reason, and this one was probably the most 'evil' I'd found in a while:

As you can see in the photo, the Blackbird's blade was literally bending sideways while batoning through it:


The wood was so knotted and twisted, it only split into rough pieces. The Blackbird's blade was still straight as an arrow, and the edge could still shave hairs after this insane test-- wow.


Feathersticks

The edge geometry on the Blackbird works well for most wilderness carving applications, but is a little more conservative than on the Benchmade Bushcrafter or Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival knives I tested last year. This makes feathersticking a little harder, but still gets the job done.


Tent Peg

While the Blackbird didn't perform as well in the featherstick category as other survival knives I've tested in the past, it performed excellent in general wood carving applications like making tent pegs:


Testing the spine with a Firesteel/Scraping Tinder

Paul did an outstanding job with the spine on the Blackbird. It makes fast work of scraping tinder for fire preparation:


The Blackbird also throws mondo sparks from a firesteel, easily igniting these pitchwood shavings in the pouring rain:


Spectacular nighttime firesteel shot captured while testing the Blackbird:

Opening a Can/Testing Tip Strength

I used the tip of the Blackbird to open several steel vegetable cans at my base camp over the summer. There was no degradation of the edge, and the tip came out completely intact:


Steel Quality Observations

I've never hidden the fact that I'm a fan of Ontario Knives. I believe that for the money, they have some of the best steel and heat treat methods for survival knives. The Blackbird is no different. The 154CM used on it is very strong, takes a fine edge, and holds it very well. The only negative I could find is that like many 154CM blades, it can be a little harder to sharpen than typical carbon steel blades.

Sheath

The nylon sheath is well constructed but a bit thin, and can flop around on the belt a little. However, it did seem well suited to its purpose during field testing:


Conclusion

The Blackbird's ability to do so many things well is probably its greatest asset. The blade's utilitarian shape makes it useful for nearly any task, from carving to batoning, food prep, or skinning game. The high quality steel is tough, yet takes and holds a great edge. The handle is one of the most comfortable I've used, and it fits a wide variety of hand sizes. Literally, the Blackbird is a "Jack of All Trades" wilderness survival knife.

Of course, all this doesn't come without a few caveats.......

The Blackbird's sheath is serviceable, but can flop around on the belt a bit. The good thing is that there are lots of aftermarket sheath options for the Blackbird, including Paul's own Hedgehog Leatherworks sheath.

The edge geometry could be improved slightly to make it better at carving feathersticks. One option would be to give it a convexed edge, or a slightly more aggressive V-grind.

One other minor issue is the Blackbird's chopping ability. Since it is weighted more towards the handle, it is one of the weakest choppers I've tested. It can handle light chopping, but shouldn't be counted on for heavier duties.


Overall, the Blackbird's pluses outweigh its minuses. The combination of its supremely comfortable handle, high quality, durable construction, and Ontario's history/lineage, make it a well rounded wilderness blade that's up to nearly any task.

4 out of 5 Stars (Recommended)


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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)