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Hill People Gear Introduces New Color Options for Several Packs

Hill People Gear is rolling out a new color option for many of their packs. The new Elk color is reminiscent of the iconic brown color used for duck canvas work wear. It is available now in the Tarahumara and will eventually be available in the Umlindi, qui-Ya, and Original Kit Bag V2.

You can also expect to see a number of other new color options coming soon, including:

  • Recon Kit Bag in Multicam Black
  • Tarahumara, Ute, and Umlindi in Manatee (grey) with black webbing
  • Tarahumara in Multicam Tropic
  • Aston House Back Country in Black and Multicam

HillPeopleGear.com

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Mora Robust and Companion Heavy Duty – The Tough (but Still Cheap) Moras

Mora knives are no secret. Many knife users in the USA are well aware of the excellent quality and value that they offer. However, many knife users in the USA are also still hesitant about carrying them as their only knife in situations where an only knife can be very important (like backcountry travel) due to the perceived weakness of the light weight, partial tang, molded plastic handle design. This is in spite of the fact that Morakniv has moved production toward longer and wider tangs across basically all of the current Mora knives.

I feel that those fears are mostly misplaced or misinformed but I am also sympathetic to those who just want to have a bomb-proof tool they can count on. If that is you, I have good news. You don’t have to spend a lot cash to get a durable knife. You don’t have to carry 8-10 ounces of pack weight. You don’t even have to look outside of the Mora line.

Let’s take a look at why the Mora Robust and Mora Heavy Duty Companion might offer the best value in the entire Mora line.

Top: Robust, Bottom: Companion Heavy Duty

Durable But Still Affordable…

The Robust is basically just a beefed up version the the Mora Craftsman line with its hand filling grip, ample guard, and taller, more drop point blade. The Heavy Duty Companion is a beefed up version of the Companion series. Both of these knives have very similar dimensions to the other knives in their respective lines with one key difference… They have thicker, 1/8″ carbon steel blade stock. This stock is considerably thicker than most other Mora knives in their price range but still thin enough to cut very well.

These knives are more durable than other similar knives in their lines but they are still very affordable. The Robust sells for $10-15 and the Heavy Duty Companion with its longer blade and finished spine sells for $17-25. Morakniv offers other 1/8″ thick models but they all cost $40 or more. The Mora Bushcraft Black is often touted as the best value in the Mora line but these two knives together cost less than half of a Bushcraft Black while offering most of the functionality, all of the durability, and less weight.

Mora Robust

If you like the typical drop point blade shape (a very common blade shape in the US), the Mora Robust might be more your speed. It has a taller blade with a deeper belly than those we are used to seeing from Mora which will likely appeal to those of us in the US who are very used to this shape.

It weighs just 135 grams or 4.76 ounces (including the sheath and the “ranger band” I use for secondary retention) with a 3.6″ blade. Don’t let the light weight trick you into believing this knife isn’t “Robust”. The tang is very wide and extends almost the full length of the handle. There are very, very impressive torture test videos online for this knife and I am confident in saying that it is a tool you can trust.

The Robust feels great in the hand. It has a hand filling, rubberized grip and a full guard that ensure the knife stays put in your grip and is comfortable for long periods of work. If you like a pronounced guard or plan to use this for field dressing game, this might be the one for you.

Mora Companion Heavy Duty

The Companion Heavy Duty has a blade shape more like what is typically seen on Mora knives. It is shorter in height and longer in length than the Robust. The point sits lower in relation to the spine and more in line with the handle which is common among “bushcraft” knives.

The Companion Heavy Duty has a longer 4.1″ blade but weighs only a few grams more than the Robust due to the shorter height of the blade (138 grams or 4.86 ounces including the sheath and the “ranger band” I use for secondary retention).  It too has a robust, nearly full length tang.

This knife also has a slightly more hand filling handle than typically found on the Companion series. It will fit the same sheaths in most cases since the guard area is virtually identical but the rubberized portion of the grip is slightly larger in diameter. It is an extremely comfortable knife to use.

Personal Experience

I can tell you from my own use that these knives hold up to everything I need them too (then again, so have all the other modern Moras that I have tried). The most important thing I need from a knife is the ability to process wood for a fire and these knives are more than capable of that. The Robust in particular has been batoned through frozen wood on several occasion this year alone.

Wrap Up

These knives weigh about half what many similarly dimensioned full tang knives weigh and yet than can take all the same abuse (maybe more in some cases). They also cost significantly less. I mean, if you felt it was necessary, you could buy 3 of them – one to destruction test so you know the knife’s limits and two to carry just in case you still fear you might somehow break one in the field. That would still cost you less in cash and pack weight than many “survival” knives!

If the thin blade stock and perceived fragility of the standard Mora knives is what has been holding you back from trying one, check out the Robust and Companion Heavy Duty. Try to break one doing something close to a realistic knife task. I dare you.


I buy all my Moras on Amazon. Their prices are pretty hard to beat but it always pays the shop around, especially on the auction sites. The links below are affiliate links:

Mora Robust on Amazon

Mora Companion Heavy Duty on Amazon (available in “Military Green” or Orange)

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Review: Tuff Possum Gear Modified 10×12 Center-Zip Pouch

I have really come to like my Hill People Gear Tarahumara. It is an excellent small pack for summer hikes, quick trips into the woods, and more. However, sometimes I wish it had a bit more capacity. It has an excellent harness system that can support far more weight than you could ever stuff into it. In an effort to extend the Tara’s usefulness and capacity, I purchased a Modified 10×12 Center-Zip Pouch from Tuff Possum Gear.

Overview

The Modified 10×12 Center-Zip Pouch is aptly named. This pouch is 10×12″ in dimension and has a single central zip that gives accessing to a single pocket (much like the Tarahumara itself). It has two 1″ webbing anchor points on the top corners that allow it to be docked on the Tarahumara with the included ITW GrimLocs and is constructed from 500D Cordura Nylon.

I don’t have exact volume figures but given the dimensions, I would say that it adds around 200-250 cubic inches of capacity to the Tara (maybe more if you really stuff it). Those numbers are based on my measurements of the exterior dimensions when the pouch is packed normally.

Observations from Use

As straight-forward as this pouch seems, there is real thoughtfulness in the design. For instance, the dimensions are such that it perfectly matches the width of host Tarahumara and the length allows it to be compressed with both of the Tarahumara’s compression straps. Additionally, the Tarahumara has a wedge shape that is thicker at the bottom. The Modified Center-Zip sits near the thinner top portion of the Tarahumara so it does not stick out that far from the wearer’s back. The whole package remains relatively sleek.

The included GrimLocs do a fine job of connecting the Modified Center-Zip to the Tarahumara. They are durable, secure, and very easy to operate even with gloves. However, I have also found that you can use Slik-Clips as a lighter weight, more compact attachment solution. They are harder to connect and disconnect but you likely won’t be taking the Modified Center-Zip on and off very often.

The Modified Center-Zip works a bit like a compression panel in that you can secure items behind it. Beware that the items that you are carrying will not fall out from the bottom. I especially like to carry an axe compressed in this manner when I am working on winter trail maintenance. You can also secure soft gear like a rain shell behind the pouch as long as you apply enough tension on the compression straps.

Obviously, the main use for this pouch is to extend the capacity of the Tarahumara but I have found a few other benefits. The Tarahumara lacks much in the way of organization but the Modified Center-Zip gives me a way to keep gear separated. For instance, I can keep my pitch covered folding saw in it instead of letting it wallow around in the main compartment where it can transfer sticky pitch to my other gear.

Wrap Up

If you have been looking for a way to extend the capacity of your Hill People Gear Tarahumara, I can highly recommend the Tuff Possum Gear Modified 10×12 Center-Zip Pouch. It is well made, easy to use, and works well with the pack’s existing shape and compression features.

Visit Tuff Possum Gear on Etsy


NOTE: Tuff Possum Gear is a small business that makes these pouches in batches. They are usually available in a variety of colors but there are brief times when they may not be in stock. They also offer a number of pouches that are similar in appearance but that are not designed to dock on the Tarahumara so double check your order.

Hill People Gear Teaser – Pocket Sling Converts Pockets to Sling Bags

Hill People Gear is close to releasing a new Pocket Sling that will be able to convert their pockets like the Tarapocket and Palspocket into a stand alone sling pack. The adjustable strap features a padded side for comfort, keepers to manage the loose end of the strap, and a side release buckle for quick donning and doffing.

Stay tuned for more details.

HillPeopleGear.com

FHF Gear Tech Pouch

Cold weather can be hard on electronics. The cold shortens battery life which is no good for critical gear like GPS or cell phones. FHF Gear’s new Tech Pouches are built with this reality in mind.

These pouches have two features that help protect and preserve electronics during backcountry travel. First, they are insulated. This helps keep the cold out an the warm in (more on this in a moment). It also protects from impacts. Second, these pouches have a hand warmer pocket (chemical or electronic) that warms the contents of the pouch.

The pouch is constructed from 500D Cordura with laser cut Dyneema backing. The backer is MOLLE compatible and can be set up for belt carry. The Tech Pouch is available in two sizes – Standard (phones up to 6.4 x 3.25″) and Plus (phones up to 7 x 3.5″).

FHFGear.com

ITS 10-4 Radio Pouch

Radio pouches can be an exercise in frustration. The majority of them seem to be built specifically to prevent you from actually operating the radio. That doesn’t appear to be the case with the ITS 10-4 Radio Pouch. It has several interesting access, retention, and mounting features that keep your radio close at hand and usable.

From ITS:

Our ITS 10-4 Radio Pouch™ is lightweight and skeletonized, offering rapid acquisition, the ultimate in retention and multiple mounting methods for Baofeng UV-5R style radios (transceivers) with extended batteries.

The 10-4 Radio Pouch™ doesn’t impede any functional operation of your Baofeng radio, leaving buttons and ports available for use. While it’s possible that other radios on the market of similar size can be utilized with the 10-4, we can’t guarantee the fit. Please refer to the dimensions below for specifics.

Our patent-pending 4-Way Mounting System™ allows you to mount the 10-4 Radio Pouch™ vertically on a duty belt, vertically to MOLLE (PALS webbing), horizontally on a belt or even vertically on a backpack or chest rig strap. The mounting possibilities are truly unlimited.

This revolutionary pouch features four built-in levels of retention, first using the interior opening webbing base to align the radio into place. Next, the adjustable shock cord locks in the radio, while still allowing easy insertion and removal. Additionally, the integrated hook strip facilitates faster operational access and stowage, providing temporary on-the-go retention. Lastly, the durable slide release buckle provides the final retention strap for ultimate security.

Optional Retractor Combo

The ITS 10-4 Radio Pouch™ features an integrated retractor pocket, designed to hold the optional retractor/lanyard combo we offer for sale separately. Acting as a dummy cord, this retractor/lanyard combo prevents unintentional loss of your radio during removal and won’t leave unnecessary cordage hanging around. The small slide release buckle connecting the retractor to the lanyard can be disconnected for full removal from the pouch to charge your radio or hand it off to someone.

Check out the 10-4 Radio Pouch at ITSTactical.com.

Tindall Knives Ridge-Line

If you know Tindall Knives, you likely know them in part for their beautiful outdoor oriented knives with intricate handle designs. Those incredible, multi-material handles are what first caught my eye. That is what makes the new Tindall Knives Ridge-Line series such an interesting departure from their previous work.

The Ridge-Line is a no-frills line of knives that features custom quality with hard working finishes and materials. There are two designs in the line. The Teton is a do-all outdoors knives. The Lost River Bushcrafter is a “beefed up” re-imagining of the classic bushcraft knife. Both models feature 5/32″ thick 80CRV2 steel steel with a flat black coating, and bead-blasted micarta or G-10 handle slabs.

These knives also boast TKHT heat treat. Tindall Knives claims this heat treat “gives a harder hardness and better edge holding, still while retaining maximum toughness and no brittleness. It has been demonstrated by stabbing cars and cutting 1/4” steel bolts on a vise and still shaving hair.”

Ridge-Line knives come with a molded Boltaron sheath.

Check out the new Ridge-Line at Tindall Knives.

Sometimes You Choose the Adventure… Sometimes It Chooses You!

If you haven’t caught on yet, Ivan at Kit Badger and I live near each other and are friends… even off the internet. We both love a good adventure and have been on a few together including hiking a local mountain this summer. That mountain happens to be very near my home and it was much cooler than either of us expected given that is not nearly as well known as other peaks in our area. It was scenic and accessible enough that Ivan filed it away as a potential filming location.

Recently, he called me asking if I wanted to head up there again for an overnighter. I wanted to go but unfortunately had some plans that would keep me down below on the valley floor. We briefly discussed conditions up there. The road in was fine – mostly bare dirt – and the weather has been mild and dry for December. Given that this is one of the smaller peaks in its particular area, we reasoned that it shouldn’t be too socked in yet… This is where you should probably take a moment to view Ivan’s video.

As you can tell from the video, it turned into a massive suck-fest for Ivan from the start. Post-holing through knee deep snow up hill for around 2500 vertical feet with 2 rifles, camera gear, winter weather camping gear, and no gaiters will ruin an outing quickly. Surprisingly, this particular mountain, though remote, has perfect cell phone coverage at the top (likely due to line of sight to some of the cell towers that service the nearest town). Ivan called me from the top, conveyed that he had no real hope of getting a fire going in the current conditions, and managed to talk himself into hiking back down after having just arrived. Darkness comes well before 4PM in these parts so he needed to hustle.

Later, he shot me a text to say he had made it back to the Kit Badger-mobile. I told him to come by my place for coffee and Christmas cookies. I expected to see him in about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, but the next call I received was from Ivan saying he was off the road and needed a ride. He also said I shouldn’t bother bringing recovery gear because me and my truck wouldn’t be able to get him back on the road (he was right).

I drove up to get him in my truck. The particular forest road that he was on is fairly tame until you get about 6 miles in where the grade becomes very steep and it narrows significantly. Ivan had gone off the road about a mile up this grade. Surprisingly, the roads were bare dirt until I was within a few hundred feet of Ivan where there was a stretch of very thin, packed snow that had glazed into ice. The ice was basically isolated to just this spot but it was treacherous.

When I arrived, it was immediately obvious why Ivan said the recovery was going to take more than just my gear and truck. The Kit Badger-mobile was sitting just inches off the road but well below the level of the road. He had spun almost 180 degrees and gone off backwards, dropping down the mountain side from the road grade, so that his front bumper was parallel with the road. The only thing holding him on the mountain was a cluster of 3 Western Red Cedars that had grown together at their base. I wasn’t able to measure the angle of the face that his vehicle was clinging to but it was steep enough that you basically had to climb down using the vehicle itself. It was so steep, that the first part of his SUV to hit the tree was his roof!

The road was narrow enough that I would have to drive up beyond Ivan to use a passing area on this single lane forestry road in order to turn around. This would require that I drive up to where the slippage would have occurred. I did the worlds slowest 6 point turn and came back down to Ivan and attempted to stop. The road way was slick and graded down to a ditch on the uphill side of the road so my truck, in spite of the fact that I was absolutely creeping, would not stop. It slid forward about 4 feet and then to the side. This dropped both passenger side tires into a ditch. The ditch was a bit muddy but not terrible. The worse part is that there was a large culvert 8-10 feet in front of me that limited how much I could move the truck to free myself. If I moved too far forward, it would have been a double recover.

This story is already getting long so I will say that we were able to self rescue my vehicle by wedging branches under the passenger front tire to give grip and create an easier transition back onto the road surface. Ivan was able to watch my forward movement to keep me out of the culvert. Fortunately, I had just enough clearance to prevent hanging up on the road’s transition to the ditch and I had the confidence to keep trying to rock the truck out because it was always able to move at least half a vehicle length at all times instead of just bogging down in one spot.

We finally got down the mountain to my place, ate some dinner, and started calling the right people to get the Kit Badger-Mobile recovered before some impending weather made it even more difficult. While we were waiting for the wrecker, a local sheriff’s department SUV pulled into the driveway looking for Ivan. It seems someone had found the now unoccupied Kit Badger-Mobile and called it in when they couldn’t find a driver. The sheriff’s office called the towing company to see if someone was taking care of the vehicle and the towing company passed on Ivan’s name and location (my house). The sheriff’s deputy was brief, courteous, and professional. He requested, if this ever happens again, that we notify them to head off any concern or effort. Which leads right into lessons learned…

Lessons Learned

Ivan and I were so focused on getting off the mountain and starting the recovery effort that we didn’t even think of calling local law enforcement. We won’t make that mistake again. It is also comforting to know someone would have eventually come by and found Ivan if he couldn’t get a call out. It’s nice to live in a place where people still stop to help and call.

This entire story also highlights the importance to having some kind of vehicle based emergency kit, especially in winter or when you choose to go places that are inherently risky. Ivan was fortunate to have both his regular vehicle kit and all his winter camping gear. He could have gone overnight if he had to or he had what he needed to potentially walk down the mountain. I however, only had some recovery tools. I had not moved my winter kit into my truck for the season yet but has already been fixed. It was probably not wise to run out the door without more preps.

These events also highlights the importance of having some know-how if you are going to seek adventure. We have at least some recovery skills. I could have very easily made my situation worse with my truck by burying it up to the axles. However, we were watching the situation and as long as I could move the truck forward and back, I was feeling free to keep trying. I also had some tools that I could have used but they would have been a last resort.

Perhaps the biggest take-away here is the importance of building yourself a safety net BEFORE you begin your adventure. You should always, at a bare minimum, let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return. In our case, Ivan let me know where he was and when he was there. I would have gone looking for him if he couldn’t get a call out.

Finally, I strongly recommend having a very good roadside assistance plan. Both Ivan and I carry roadside assistance with our insurance providers (USAA) and they have been excellent. They completely covered his recovery effort except for a chain-up fee. They would have even covered the tow all the way back to Ivan’s place had the vehicle been disabled. I should note that you should be prepared to deal with a call center employee that is helpful, but more used to dealing with flat tires on the highway than backcountry recoveries. Just be sure you are able to talk directly to the local recovery company after your roadside assistance provider makes the initial contact.

Wrap Up

The adventure wasn’t really over yet. The recovery wasn’t straight forward and the narrow road coupled with ice complicated things. It was so slick that the wrecker pulled itself into the ditch while it was pulling up Ivan’s SUV. Think about that. The wheels were chocked, brakes set, and it was pulling from down hill in relation to Ivan’s SUV. That means it pulled itself uphill and into the ditch in spite of the wheel chocks. That is how slick this road surface was. The wrecker driver got himself out of the ditch and they both drove down the mountain.

Ivan ended his already long day with a 60 mile drive home with no rear windshield in 20 degree weather… but at least he made it home.

Tuff Possum Gear… Survival Bow Tie?

Can your bow tie help you find north or start a fire in an emergency? It probably can’t but Tuff Possum Gear’s bow tie can!

Tuff Possum Gear is known for making outdoor and survival related nylon gear, so when the opportunity to dress up a little bit arose, owner Jayberry Miller couldn’t help but take this bow tie up a notch or two with the inclusion of a button compass and firestarter.

The idea of a survival bow tie is worth sharing. Unfortunately, this survival bow tie is just a one-off creation and not something Tuff Possum Gear plans to add to their lineup… but we can dream.

Visit TuffPossumGear on Etsy.

Ivory Holsters Collaborates with Exo Mountain Gear on EMG Pack Holster

This is a very cool collaboration. Ivory Holsters has been working with Exo Mountain Gear (EMG) to develop a holster specifically designed for use on backpack hip belts. The EMG Pack Holster is deigned to ride very close to the pack belt when using Quick Clips (optional). While this holster is designed with and for EMG packs, it should also work on other similar pack belts.

IvoryHolsters.com

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