Couple years ago i decided to buy a bicycle to move around town and also for keeping myself in a good shape.I had bought a very good mountain bicycle,because i thought that it would be perfect to go for overnights at the wood using my mountain bike.
Since i was going to use the bike for everyday transportation purposes,i need a backpack to keep all my essentials items in it. The backpack I use is a Maxpedition Falcon II backpack. The pack is made from 1050 cordura,which is tough and water resistant fabric.The pack has two main compartments which have mesh pockets at one side and two smaller compartment at the front.It also has a build in pouch for water bladder.Molle raws can be seen at the front and the sides of the backpack,useful to attach extra pouches if needed.
The pack contains items that will help me spend a night out at the trail if I have too or if I chose it.Also it keeps small tools that will help me fix a malfunction on the bicycle.
As you can see at the picture the items that I carry for an overnight trip are meant to cover the basic needs of fire, shelter,water ,first aid and signaling.For shelter I have a heavy duty space blanket,measured 5”x7”.I also have a small spool of bank like.A Bic lighter in the orange pouch and some extra tinders inside the small green box can start a fire in any conditions.Inside the metal survival tin,you can find an extra ferro rod ,tinder,small roll of duct tape,a whistle and extra batteries for my flashlight.I have a stainless steel bottle for my water and a titanium cup.One plastic zip lock bag with couple water purification tablets,a bandanna,a thermal wrap,pen and marker are couple extra items that can help me treat water,cook,stay warm and keep notes.I also have a basic first aid kit with me.
For signaling I have a whistle but also a hi visibility vest.This vest is useful if you are cycling at night and in case of emergency too.The cutting tools I use are a small folded knife from Opinel and a LTWK Maverick Scout .I also have a Leatherman Super Tool 300. I also have a small repairing kit for my bicycle, consists from a spare tube, couple patches for them and a set of levers.
With all these items , I can easily spent a night at the woods but also I have items that can be used if something bad happens and I found myself at the town.
Walking stick is a great and useful tool that can help the outdoor enthusiasts in many ways.If you are walking,it can provide support when going uphill or as brake when going downhill.It can be used to check the ground,the mud, the depth of a creek or river if it’s long enough.It clears spider webs and thick brush and grass on the trail. Also,it can be used as defensive weapon;if someone wishes a spear head can easily attached to it.
To begin with your project,you have to find a stick long enough for your height.The stick should be around the height of your chest, although it is not wrong if you like a longer stick.Mine is at the same height of my shoulder,but as I mentioned it’s all matter of personal preference.As general rule try to bend your hand at 45 degrees and hold the stick.This will give you and idea on the perfect length.
The wood should be at least one inch thick,and not dead wood.You should let it dry for sometime,usually two weeks to one month.It depends of the thickness of the wood.The type of the wood should be hardwood and so it could be oak,hickory,cedar or ash or similar.My personal walking stick is made from olive wood.The stick should be as straight as possible but if it’s not too straight you can hang it and it will come straight to some point.
The next step is to remove the bark from the stick.You could do this before you let your stick dry.I tend to do this always.You can use a knife,preferably with scandi grind or any type that you like most.After that,you should use sandpaper to remove knots but also to make a smoother feeling while you are holding your stick.You can also round the edges of the stick.
I started with 100 grit sandpaper.This type is rough and will remove much material from the knots.I run it two times and gave more attention to the knot points.Next I used 200 grit sandpaper,again followed the same procedure as mentioned previously.For the last step I used 400 grit sandpaper.This type of sandpaper will give a much smoother feeling.
After you finished with the sanding,it’s time to stain the stick.Before the staining you can decorate it with pyrography designs.For my walking stick I used boiled linseed oil.You can use the same or tungsten oil,which is also safe If comes in contact with surfaces that you use to process food.I applied one coat of oil,let it dry and then I used a 400 grit sandpaper to remove excess stain.After that ,I applied another coat of linseed oil and after the drying I used again the 400 grit sandpaper.I repeated the process 3 -4 times totally.
When you had completed the stain process,is time to apply a protective coat to your stick.I prefer a coat of bee wax,which will give a waterproof shield and also darkening the color of the stick;not much but it will look more rustic.
The final step is optional and is the making of the grip.To make a grip you can use paracord,leather stripes or piece or even bank line.Everything is matter of personal taste.I sewn a piece of leather to make my grip.
The process of making a walking stick is a great experience.It takes time,needs patience and some effort but the result will pay you back.It is a beautiful feeling to hold something that you have created and personalize on your own.I would suggest to everyone to make this journey,it worths a lot.
I always loved knives and as a kid I used to have a Swiss Army Knife folder in my pocket (i still carry one,accompanying with a fixed blade).During my service I had used many knives not only bayonets or tactical knives,but also large bowie knives and small auto folders.
I had made some knives drawings on paper but never have the chance or the ability to see one becoming true.I was fortunate enough,last year taking the opportunity to participate at the custom month event,through Pout House forum;I had sent a drawing and the guys at LTWK shop built it!
This design defines my view of the one tool option .Based on my experience and preferences I designed the knife to be the best companion not only in a survival situation but also for any outdoor activity,any day of the year.
The knife is made from 5/32” thick(about 4mm) A2 steel.I found that this particular thickness is appropriate for taking down limbs,making feather sticks and even skin and prepare small game,like rabbits.Another advantage is that the knife weights significant less than a thicker blade like 1/4” and it doesn’t sacrifice anything.It is light to carry it all day.You can work with it for long period of time,without getting fatigue.Also,if you are into self defense position a light and fast handling knife can do severe damage to your opponent.The A2 tool steel,is well known for its’ great abilities.It holds an edge for a long time,it’s easy to sharpen and it has better wear resistance than other carbon steel blades, such 1095,O1 and similar steels.You can force a patina to the knife for more protection,if you wish too.
The overall length of the knife is 10 inches.It has a 5.5 inches blade and 4.5 inches handles.
The handles are black bead blasted micarta with coyote liners.The bead blasted micarta offers non slipper protection in case your hands are wet or have blood on,while you were preparing game. Because micarta is a synthetic material it will not break or loose its shape over time,something that happens with wood handles.The liners provide a more beefy handle but also comfortable at the same time.You can control the knife very well in many different positions,even when wearing gloves.
The thickness of the knife helps while batoning and splitting wood to make feather sticks.It can make some very good feathers although can’t beat a scandi blade.It also has very good carving abilities,despite the fact that it has a flat grind.My first try stick was made using a knife with flat grind.Nothing is impossible….
While the flat grind of the knife has average performance at carving,it excels at processing game.It can skin an animal,slice the meat,prepare a fish and cut fine pieces of vegetables at your outdoor kitchen.It is also one of the easiest grinds that can be maintained at the field(the second is the scandi).A small flat stone and water can hone the grind perfectly.
The knife has a 90 degrees spine to strike your ferrocerium rod but also can be used to shave fine tinder from tree barks.The sheath is Jude’s with black leather backer.You can remove the leather backer and use tek-lok or MOLLE-loks.With these options,you can place the knife on your backpack or plate carrier/chest rig.The knife is secured tight in the sheath and there is a slide lock which adds an extra level of security to the sheath.
I am very pleased of the outcome of this knife.Not only my concept took “flesh and bones” but also the craftsmanship is amazing.The performance of the knife these few months that I have it on my possession is flawless!I am also in the happy position to see that this model will have a first production run from LT Wright Handcrafted Knives in limited numbers,available to Pout House. Visit the site of LTWK and join the greatest knife brotherhood ever!We will also find more cool knives too!
Based on my personal experiences I designed that knife to perform very well in any situation.If you are looking for an one tool option knife,do not overlook this blade.It has great capabilities and will not let you down.
At the previous part,i had talked about the general idea behind this set-up and i had discussed about the belt,the Y suspenders and the padded sleeve.In this part i will explain the type of the pouches and some gear essentials that i carry on my harness.
The ammo pouches i choose to carry are two MOLLE M60 woodland camo pouches,made for Specialty Defense(SDS).These are military issued and are designed to hold 100rounds of linked ammo for the M60/M240 machine guns.The great thing with these pouches is that they can accept four M16 30 rounds magazines each or three M14/FAL 20 rounds magazines each.Also they can accept at least 25-30 shotgun rounds each,although the rounds will be noisy while you are moving;but in case you are wearing the harness and are on the move something went really bad…As you can see these pouches can cover the ammo needs for the rifles,in case a call to arms and for my shotgun in case of a SHTF situation.
The right side of the belt;small pouch that can accept pistol mag,flashlight,multitool or a tourniquet,the woodland camo pouch and the IFAK pouch
Starting to discuss the pouches from left to right side of the belt; there is first a small OD green pouch that can accept a pistol mag or a folding knife or a multitool or a flashlight or even a tourniquet.Personally,i keep a flashlight but if i had to join the military again i would put a pistol magazine there.Next,is the woodland camo ammo pouch and next is my trauma kit pouch.This pouch is a Tactical Tailor 1V utility pouch and it contains a pair of EMT shears,latex gloves,a 4” Israeli bandage,couple adhessive tapes and gauzes and antibiotics pills.(I also keep a packet of Celox but it got expired and i have to replace it)
After the small first aid pouch is a Maxpedition small rollypolly OD green dump pouch.I can use this pouch to throw my empty mags in or to carry some extra shotgun shells.Right next to it is my Escape and Evade pouch;it’s an Eagle Industries MOLLE horizontal utility pouch.
This pouch contains my survival kit, 50ft of 550 paracord,a SOL emergency blanket,the belt extender,a small pouch with an extra metal clip and a camo paint for the face.In case of an emergency i can drop all the harness,take off that pouch and try to survive.The main goal is to never leave my harness no matter what…I can drop the backpack but never the harness and the long gun.
Next to the E&E pouch is a water canteen pouch in woodland camo,made from Safariland and is also military issued.I have a 1qt water canteen and a stainless steel cup at the main compartment and at the small pouch i keep CRKT Eat’n’ tool.After the canteen pouch is the second M60 pouch.
When i am wearing the belt there are two small spaces left on each side,one before the first aid kit and the other between the canteen pouch and the ammo pouch.These are left on purpose in case i had to wear a drop leg holster for the pistol on the right side and place my knife at the left side or just to put my knife on my right side(my strong side).I have one last small pouch,also made from Eagle Industries, attached on the left shoulder strap and it carries a small SOG folding knife.This folding knife closed makes a great strap cutter.I used to carry the knife that way and when i was serving,especially during parachute jumps.The place there is very convinient and easily accessable in case something goes wrong…
When i was serving,i used to run the harness with the usual ALICE ammo pouches,a butt pack and a usual water canteen pouch.After i finished my military days,i upgraded the pouches with the new MOLLE style pouches,since MOLLE was starting to spread fast and i think that the harness still have many days to serve me well.I want to get me a chest rig sometime but i will never leave this harness of duty!Don’t forget that many companies in our days offer MOLLE padded belts and suspenders,which is the upgrade of the old style LC belt and padded sleeve.
In the current time where MOLLE platforms have taken over the field,old trusty gear can be found for less money and with couple budget friendly upgrades you can have a very good system for your long gun and for any case.
In a previous article i had reviewed my personal survival kit which is part of my battle gear.This means that the survival kit stays at the belt all the time,until the need arises and i have to use it.
When i was serving i was a big gear-holic!(still am,but since my budget are limited,i try not to spend much;that doesn’t mean though that i don’t try to learn what new gear is out and what can offer).I had three different types of load bearing equipment but all had the same configuration in mind,five different types of boots,couple knives,backpacks and other stuff….I used to own an Eagle Industries Air Rescue vest,an Arktis NL-rig and an ALICE belt,harness and few pouches.After i finished my service and due to the bad financial situation i am facing the last years,i had to sold most of my gear to cover basic needs.But,since i’m still considering as reservist(all Greek male population considered reserved military personel until the age of 65) i had to keep some things,in case of a draft and also because i am preparing for emergency situations.I had sold the two vests but i kept all the ALICE gear that i had and i also bought couple new pouches for my rig.I really like ALICE equipment(and the concept in general)for couple reasons;it’s very affordable,still can be found in large quantity,it has very good construction quality,it’s light and offers awesome ventilation,so it’s perfect for hot weather and long range patrols.During the hot summers,it was my preferable gear and for eight years had served me well.Drawbacks are the limitation of the things that you can load and that you cannot combined it with a large pack.The waist belt of the pack will interfere with the LC belt causing problem;you had to remove pouches from the belt which is no good,during an operation.If you choose a smaller pack,like a medium ALICE pack(without the frame,though) or a modern 3-day pack,you will not have any problems.
I had set up the configuration of the harness with two things in mind;that the gear should served military rifles and my shotgun.Legal firearms you can own here are shotguns and under specific circumstances handguns.Shotguns are wide spread,cheap and the process to get one is very simple .On the other handguns have way more restrictions;to own one you must prove that your life is in danger(forget it,only rich people can go that way)and you need to carry one or be a member at a shooting club,no permit to carry though;the trick with the club is that you must participate in certain number of matches every year to keep the ownership license of your handgun,otherwise you will loose it.This is expensive and not many can afford the fees for the matches and the ammunition you had to provide during them.I used to be a member of an IPSC shooting club when my finacials were better but after i moved in the countryside and without a stable job,i had stopped that hobby for saving reasons.Luckily, i hadn’t prurchased a handgun by that time,i needed two more matches to be eligible to apply for a permittion to buy one handgun,otherwise it would have been confiscated now…The military rifles that are in service are the M16 and M4 family,FN FALs and HK G3.The first two(the M16 and the M4 are the standard issue since 2000,limited number of FALs are kept for the reservists) are used by my fellow Raiders,Marines and Spec-Ops Units and the third is the basic rifle of the rest armed forces.So,the gear should have the ability to accomodate magazines and ammunition for these type of guns and other essentials like first aid kit pouch,water canteen pouch and other items that i will explain them during this article series.
The belt i am using is a simple LC-2 belt with the black quick release button;i also have a belt extender in case i had to wear body armor so i can wear the harness over it.Adding the green padded sleeve from Eagle Industries make this belt very comfortable to wear,even for long period of time.The padded sleeve isn’t something new;English soldiers used to add such sleeves to their belts,so the system is already tested and proven.Keep in mind that many companies nowdays offer padded MOLLE belts(aka war belts),even the issued US Army FLC vest comes with such a belt.It’s simple the modernization of this system.
The straps are ‘Y’ shaped,padded,similar to the issued ones;the particulars i use, are made by Eagle Industries and have some unique features that you will not find to the issued ones.First off,the straps are shorter than the surplus ones.Also,they have a sternum strap that helps when the harness is fully loaded,distribute the weight better and also makes the shoulders straps more stable;it works just like a sternum strap on a pack.There is a loop at the sternum strap for the hoose of the water bladder.The shoulder straps have two web loops to attach gear instead of the one that the issued straps have.Also at the end of the retantion straps there are retaining bands.
The common features between the issued and my suspenders are the retaining snap hooks at the end of the starps,the two wire loops at the shoulder straps(one on each side) and of course the adjustment procedure is the same with both systems.
Continued in PART #2….In the second part of the article,i will analyse the pouches and what i carry in them…
It’s been three years since i purchased my LTWK Genesis,the first model LT offered after the split of Blind Horse Knives.I managed to score one of the first run(the first run were 100 knives made and have PT stamped on them)with beautiful Desert Ironwood scales.It’s the only knife i have got that has such scales.For the last three years it’s always on my right side every time i am camping at the woods.I can’t say that i had abused it alot,but it has been put in use many times.
The knife is made from A2 steel,which holds the edge longer than O1 and resists corrosion much better.It’s my favorite steel by far!The thickness of the knife is 1/8”(3.175mm).The knife has a spear point and has a scandi grind.You can also find it with flat grind and convex grind and also in 3v and AEB-L steel now,but the first run came in scandi grind,high polished with zero degree edge.The handles is straight and are attached with two fish eye bolts and have a lanyard hole. The overall length of the knife is 9”(22.86cm).The blade length is 4.25”(10.795cm) which is a very common length for bushcraft type knives.The spine is sharpened,so you can through sparks from a ferro rod or scratching bark to collect tinder.Another great feauture is the thumb scallops that allows better control while performing some tasks,like carving.
Notice at the pictures the PT stamp and the LTWK stamp.Also,see how the light condition effects on the beautiful Desert Ironwood handles.
The high polished scandi grind is perfect at wood working.I have make feather sticks many times,made notches and i also had removed the bark from couple walking sticks that i had made these past years.The knife excels at these tasks.I had also used it at camp kitchen sometimes with no problems.The disadvantage of a scandi grind knife as kitchen knife is that you will get more chunky pieces of meat or vegetables when you cut them,but if you don’t care about that then there isn’t much of trouble!Personally it doesn’t bother me alot.
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Pictures above show a feather stick and a bag of shavings.I use to keep some shavings for tinder(for the fireplace during winter).I don’t have the best technique on feather sticks but the Genesis helps make nice curls.
Now,i haven’t used the knife to skin game while hunting;i tend to carry a flat grind knife(LTWK Maverick Scout) at my hunting trips.Anyway,the Genesis performs excellent after three years.I am very pleased with it.Sharpening isn’t hard at all.The knife hardly shows signs of year;there are no rusty spots at all.I do however take care of it just like all my gear.The LTWK shop offers lifetime warranty and ‘spa’ treatment if you ever get your knife into much abuse.For more information on knife spa, you can contact the LTWK shop.
The Genesis is a true STAR and you can find out that yourself, if you purchase one and if you are watching History’s channel ALONE reality show;it’s the only knife that had been carried from participants in all three seasons.And that says a LOT!
So far i have used for cooking kits many different choices.I mean,i have a percolator for my coffee, a small 12cm Zebra pot,an MSR 750ml pot,couple stainless cups.Depending on what i was going out for and for how long,some or most of them were my cooking kit.I like it very much when i start my camp fire and cook my meals there;who doesn’t after all?
I had the luck to get one Esbit Cook Set as Christmas gift from a very good friend and i thought that i could share couple of my thoughts with you.I have to say that it will not be 100% review because i can’t find any denatured alcohol here,for unknown reasons and i had tried only Esbit fuel tablets and Fire Dragon gel fuel tablets from BCB company.
The cooking set comes in two mesh bags.The bigger bag keeps the pot and the pan,while the smaller mesh bag keeps the base,the alcohol burner and the solid fuel stand. This way the whole set nests inside the big pot and takes minimum space in the pack.
The cookset is made of light,hard anodized aluminum,except the alcohol burner of course,which is made of solid brass.The whole system weights 459gr/ 16.065 oz. Hard anodized aluminum is a very good alternative to titanium cookware.It doesn’t weight to much and it also doesn’t cost as much as titanium. This set looks very well made.The two pots have fold out stainless steel handes,which are covered with some sort of plastic material to avoid burning your hands.The big pot has measurements at the side, from 200ml -750 ml/12oz-24oz.This helps when you need to boil the right amount of water for cooking or making a brew.
I wanted to try the BCB’s Fire Dragon gel tablets,and see if i can use them with this set.It’s good to have some alternatives.The Fire Dragon tablets are bigger and taller than the normal fuel tablets.Also,after catches fire they liquidate,so you have to avoid any fuel leak.
Obvious,you can’t use the solid fuel stand with the traditional way…So,i make a small “pot” from aluminum foil to place the gel tablet and i use the stand reversed…
With this way,i managed to boil water to make a very nice cup of cocoa,during a brake from a short hiking.The water boiled in around 6-7 minutes.
I am very pleased with this set.It is lightweight,compact and comes very handy in places where open fires aren’t allowed.You can make a brew or boil water for dehydrated meals easily.You can use the alcohol burner and fuel tablets and i think with the trick i made gel tablets are good option too.It won’t replace completely my other devices,but i can use it during short hike or when i am going for day hunting and during the season where open fires aren’t allowed.Personally,i recommend this cookset to anyone who is looking for a good quality cooking kit.