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Archive | Survival

Mini Review: Outdoor Research Water Bottle Tote 1L

It is pretty much standard for modern hiking packs to have water bottle pockets on one or both sides of the pack. However, many of these water bottle pockets are difficult to reach without stopping and taking your pack off which is why I either lash a bottle to my shoulder strap or carry one on the waist belt of my pack with an Outdoor Research Water Bottle Tote.

The Water Bottle Tote attaches to your pack via a hook and loop flap that is semi-rigid. This attachment system is versatile and fits a wide range of pack belts and webbing sizes or even your pants belt. I have been able to figure out an accessible and functional way to attach this pouch to every pack I have tried it with. The semi-rigid flap also seems to help the pouch bear weight without sagging.

It has proven to be very durable. I have used mine for years and, apart from some trail dust, you wouldn’t know it. It is also relatively light at 1.6 ounces. That isn’t exactly ultra light territory but it doesn’t cost like an ultralight pouch either.

It is sized well for most 1L bottles. I have even carried very tall, narrow bottles like the Smart Water bottles that I like to re-use for the trail. The cinch top allows the user to secure just about any bottle that will fit in the opening of the pouch.

Water bottle pouches are probably the least exciting thing you will read about all day but… This one is simple, versatile, durable, readily available, affordable, and it works. Believe it or not, that isn’t necessarily an easy-to-find combination of attributes for a water bottle pouch. This isn’t sexy gear but it is good, functional, and necessary gear (for me at least).

If you are lucky, you might be able to find these at a local outdoor retailer. If not, I bought mine from Amazon: OR Water Bottle Tote on Amazon. This is an affiliate link.

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Deep Discounts on Para-X Treatment Tubes – IFAK and Bleeder – at BMK Ventures

BMK Ventures is offering 20% off their already discounted prices on Para-X Treatment Tubes. These tubes contain proven components and are designed with versatile packaging so they can be stored in small spaces or repackaged in a pouch you provide. They have both the IFAK and Bleeder versions on sale. Use code “STB20%” at checkout to save.

Para-X Treatment Tube Bleeder

Para-X Treatment Tube IFAK

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Tuff Possum Gear Multipurpose Survival Scarf

Even the most basic scarf can be used in a lot of different ways but Tuff Possum Gear has added a couple of unique features that really earn the name Multipurpose Survival Scarf (MSS).

Their MSS is constructed from diamond ripstop nylon that is sewn into a tube with a closed end. The interior of the tube is lined with high visibility orange fabric so that they entire scarf may be turned inside out to serve as a visual signal. This closed end tube format allows the MSS to serve not only as a scarf but also as a number of other items like:

  • a bag for gathering materials
  • a sling bag when tied with cordage
  • a pillow
  • a pre-filter for water purification
  • a head covering
  • and lots, lots more…

You can check out the Multipurpose Survival Scarf at the Tuff Possum Gear store.

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Sagewood Gear Universal Axe Sheath

There are a number of universal axe sheaths/masks on the market but many of them leave a lot to be desired. They often fit poorly which is dangerous with a sharp axe or they are difficult to install/remove which is also dangerous with a sharp axe.

Sagewood Gear’s Universal Axe Sheath is different. It is not as universal as some axe masks since it is actually available in sizes for many common axe bits. The various available sizes, coupled with the unique adjustable paracord retention strap and closure allow the end user to fine tune the fit to their specific axe.

The Universal Axe Sheath is made from 9-10oz Wickett and Craig Leather. The paracord retention strap can be protected from wear with a piece of included heat shrink wrap.

SagewoodGear.com

SOLKOA Survival Systems (S3) Hill People Gear Kit Bag Based Survival Kit

Hill People Gear’s (HPG) Kit Bag has had potential as a carriage option for survival kits since its introduction and now, years later, we are starting to see that concept come into its own… at least in a pre-packaged sort of way. SOLKOA Survival Systems (S3) is well known for their high quality survival kits in a modular format and soon they will be offering an entire modular kit pre-packed into the HPG Kit Bag.

These kits are not available yet but you can view other S3 modules on their website: www.fast-fire.com

Sneak Peek: 5col Survival Supply HPG Kit Bag Survival Kit

5col Survival Supply is developing a survival kit designed specifically to fit the Hill People Gear Kit Bag. The kit features quality components from Solkoa Survival Systems, Aquamira, UCO, and more. Given the versatile load carrying capability of the Kit Bag and it’s ability to stay with the wearer even when they have to drop their pack, I am surprised there hasn’t been other similar kits developed.

Stay tuned for additional details.

Sneak Peek: RMJ Tactical Kestrel Trail

Photo Credit: Rob Orlando

RMJ Tactical will display a prototype of the upcoming Kestrel Trail, a hammer poll version of the Kestrel, at SHOT Show 2018. While most of RMJ Tactical’s tomahawks are designed for breaching, people have been pressing them into use as woodsman tools for years and the demand for hammer poll models has always been strong in spite of the relatively few of them offered in the RMJ Tactical line.

Visit booth 2231 at SHOT Show to see the Kestrel Trail in person.

RMJTactical.com

Review: Hill People Gear Lever Light Mount

If you were to enter the search terms “lever action light mount” into a search engine, you would find several forum discussions full of jerry-rigged contraptions, comments like “I don’t even know why you would want to mount a light on a lever action”, and various mounts that were too large for their intended purpose. That is why this review of the Hill People Gear Lever Light Mount will be just as much a justification of why something like this should exist as it is a review of the product on its own merits.

Overview

The Hill People Gear (HPG) Lever Light Mount is a 3-slot picatinny rail that clamps onto the magazine tube of .30 caliber lever action rifles. It is designed to be very compact and lightweight (1.24 ounces) so that it has as little effect as possible on the attributes that make lever action rifles so suitable for backcountry use.

The Lever Light Mount consists of two hard anodized, 6016 T6 Aluminum aluminum halves and two screws. One half of the mount has the 4 bar, 3 slot picatinny rail with a machined groove running from front to back on its underside. The other half has a raised ridge that mates with the groove in the first half to create a hinge point. Both halves have opposing curved clamping surfaces that grip the sides of the magazine tube. The screws pass through both halves, drawing them together and hinging the clamping surfaces closed to grip the magazine tube tightly.

Why the Lever Light Mount Exists

The practicality of firearm mounted lights is widely accepted for the purposes of home defense but I rarely see the concept discussed for backcountry use. This is a real shame because they have such obvious utility for the woodsman.

It gets truly, truly dark when you venture out into the backcountry and not just at night. If you are under a stand of Western Red Cedar (or another dense canopy tree), you may have travel limiting darkness an hour or more before sunset. If that same dense stand of timber is shaded by a mountain, you may not be able to see your hand in front of your face long before the official sunset time. The same could be said for tight valleys, slot canyons, the hills and hollows of places like Kentucky or Southern Indiana, during lousy weather, and other common situations for the backcountry traveler.

I live, work, play in an area that is one of eastern most parts of the Pacific Time Zone and you can’t go much further north without crossing a border. That means it gets dark early. The area is characterized by defined mountain ranges with wide valleys and tons of timber. That means it gets dark in some places even earlier! There are areas on our property this time of year that require a flashlight to move through before 3PM (and that will move earlier as we get closer to the winter solstice). I could probably show you moose or bear sign in at least a few of those same spots right now.

Be Sure of Your Target and What is Beyond It

That is the fourth of Cooper’s gun safety rules. It holds true whether you are target shooting, defending a suburban home, or cruising the backcountry. Your obligation to identify your target before you start shooting doesn’t end once you are off city streets.

The use of a firearm mounted white light is one of the most practical ways to accomplish the positive identification of a target. A .30 caliber lever action rifle is one of the most practical firearms for the backcountry travel with its combination of compact size, lightweight, quick follow up shots of a sufficiently powerful cartridge, and affordability. So it stands to reason that a lever action rifle with a light mounted on it would be very practical.

Beyond the safety argument, there are practical reasons to have a really, really bright light on your backcountry rifle. Even the largest ghost ring rear sight or best optics money can buy will fall short in true dark. You will not be able to find your front sight or reticle unless you can silhouette it against a brightly illuminated target. Why even carry a rifle if it won’t accommodate the lighting conditions you are likely to encounter?

Observations from Use

The Lever Light Mount’s two half, hinged construction has some unique advantages. It allows the mount to accommodate slight variations in diameter of magazine tubes. It allows the mount to be installed without disassembling the rifle. It also reduces the overall weight of the mount since it does not have to wrap fully around the magazine tube.

The Lever Light Mount is very compact. That really sets it apart from the other lever action light mounting solutions out there. You barely notice it when it is tucked up against your rifle’s hand guards. That is nice in states like Idaho where you will have to remove your light when you are hunting in order to comply with hunting laws.

Installing the Lever Light Mount is easy. You can figure it out by looking at it though Hill People Gear does wisely caution against over tightening since you could compress the walls of the magazine tube and cause feeding issue with your rifle. I used thread locking compound because, if it has screws… I use thread locker. I think it is especially important in situations like there where you can’t necessarily turn the screws until they bottom out.

The mount didn’t move or break through 100 rounds of ammo through my Marlin 336. That isn’t exactly a torture test but it satisfied me (and I am just about out of .30-30 ammo). Those rounds weren’t on the range either. The rifle was shot in field conditions and I learned a lot from it, like why Hill People Gear decided to place the light where they did…

Switching it generally very intuitive with the light mounted at the 6 o’clock position in front of the hand guard. I found that I could easily use the index finger of the support hand to active both momentary and constant on with both of the pistol lights I used.

The 6 o’clock, forward of the hand guard position also makes good sense when the shooter is bracing the rifle on a something for a more stable shot. The light is centered so it doesn’t create a lot of back-splash if you are bracing on a vertical surface like a tree trunk and it is forward of the hand guard so if you are bracing on something like a backpack or shooting sticks, the light is forward of the brace.

The 3 slot rail is completely sufficient for mounting any light I would want to put on my lever action rifle. I tried the Lever Light Mount with two types of pistol lights: Surefire X Series Lights like the X300 and Streamlight TLR Series Lights like the TLR-1 HL. Both worked well but I found the switch on the Streamlights to be a little easier to use in the 6 o’clock position. It is also more than enough rail for use with a flashlight ring or lights that use the Surefire Scout pattern rail mount. The rail is small enough to not be overly large for lights with smaller footprints and large enough to fully support the rails on pistol lights.

Wrap Up

I am familiar with many of the current light mounting solutions for lever action rifles and I think the Lever Light Mount stands out among them for a number of reasons the chief of which is its compact size. Lever action rifles are great for backcountry use because they are slim, slick, lightweight, and compact. You don’t want a large heavy light mount to screw that up.

You can check out the Lever Light Mount at HillPeopleGear.com. It is on sale as of the time of this writing.

Disclosure: Hill People Gear sent me the Lever Light Mount, free of charge, for this review.

Frontier Axe & Tool

I have a confession to make. I like axes, hatchets, and tomahawks (maybe too much) and I am fortunate to live in a place that lets me put them to good use. I even started an Instagram feed (@thedailyaxe) that shares pictures of them which is how I cope with my vice. It is also how I came across Frontier Axe & Tool.

Frontier Axe & Tool sells axes, hatchets, and tomahawks. There are tons of shops selling new axes and tons selling restored vintage axes but Frontier Axe & Tool sells both. Their site has a variety of restored vintage American axes right along side a line of quality, USA-made, newly manufactured axes.

Those new axes, hatchets, and tomahawks are pretty unique and worth a look. The heads are hand forged by H&B Forge. Then Frontier Axe & Tool hangs each one with their own handles, sharpens them, and fits them with a leather axe mask. The quality appears to be excellent. They even go so far as to coat the leather masks with multiple coats of Sno-Seal. The prices on these axes are lower than their high quality imported counterparts and you are getting some solid value for the price considering the included leather mask and hand worked hafts.

Check out Frontier Axe & Tool.

ShelterWerks MPS-1 and MPS-2 Welded Aluminum Shovels

The ShelterWerks MPS line of shovels consists is built to be rugged and lightweight. They feature welded aluminum construction and a host of features that make them useful for all kinds of emergency situations.

The MPS-1 is their largest model. It weighs in at 3 pounds and has a welded “T” handle that can be used as a hammer. The “V” nose blade can saw, chop, and dig. It also has a slot cut into that can serve as a bottle opener. It also has an available kydex sheath option and multiple mounting options for trucks or Jeeps.

The MPS-2 is the more compact model and is available in two variations. The MPS-2T has a welded “T” handle and the MPS-2S has a straight handle with a foam grip. Both MPS-2 models are light in weight (S – 15 oz, T – 16 oz) and both are small enough to go in or on your backpack (S – 19″, T – 20″).

All of the MPS models are powder-coated and built right here in the USA. Check them out at ShelterWerks.

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