You’ve seen tomahawks with hammer poles and you’ve seen them with spikes. Flat Face Knives makes tomahawks with something even more useful on the opposite side from the cutting bit… a bottle opener. The Brewhawk is a hand forged tomahawk with a very traditional appearance until you notice the bottle opener.
Traditional, hand forged tomahawks haven’t changed much over the years but there is new tomahawk available that manages to teach the old workhorse some new tricks. The GOShawk is the result of a collaboration between Michael Herdson at Pine Fire and H&B Forge. It can do everything that a typical hammer pole tomahawk can do but it also boasts a few features that set it apart.
The GOShawk has a .85 pound hammer pole head on 23″ haft. A longer haft can be used to balance a heavier tomahawk head and adds speed to the swing. The head on the GOShawk a mid-weight compared to most tomahawks and when placed on a long handle, it should hit very hard.
In addition to the typical cutting edge, the GOShawk also features a utility edge on the lower edge of the bit. This edge can be used for scraping a ferro rod, tinder preparation, or other tasks that you might not want to risk damage or dulling to your main cutting edge. It also has a relief cut behind the bit that allows the user to get their hand behind the cutting for fine work and makes the head more comfortable to hold when it is off the haft.
Finally, the GOShawk also features a 3/8″ divet that can be used as a bow drill socket. The socket is usually the hardest part of a bow drill set to manufacture in the woods so having one with you, can be a great advantage if you have the skills to use a bow drill.
Check out the GOShawk at H&B Forge.
The Hill People Gear Aston House BC (Back Country), a back country pack based on the original Aston House Pack, is now available. The Aston House BC is similar in size and foot print to the original Aston House but it has less organization features and a more substantial chassis which, coupled with the Aston House’s compression features, allow this pack to carry anything from small daypack loads to heavier overnight loads.
The Aston House BC has a beefier suspension that includes a full frame sheet and dual aluminum stays. It comes with Hill People Gear’s excellent shoulder harness and can accept the Recon or Prairie Belt (belt not included).
The panel loading main compartment is completely lined with First Spear’s 6/12 material so you can add MOLLE or hook backed pouches. The main compartment can be accessed via the panel zipper or top and bottom zippers. The front panel of the pack features a full height slot pocket on the exterior and a mesh slip pocket on the inside. The exterior sides of Aston House BC have dual wand pockets similar to those found on other Hill People Gear packs.
The Aston House BC also comes with the Aston Panel, a MOLLE compatible compression panel that is made from First Spear’s 6/12 Laminate material (loop material bonded to hypalon). The panel can be used to compress the pack and carry gear like skis, a snow shovel, bulky clothing layers, and more.
Check out the Aston House BC at Hill People Gear.
It’s Little Bird season! If you follow the work of RMJ Tactical, you know what I am talking about.
RMJ Tactical’s Little Bird Tomahawk is their way of saying thank you to their customers. It is basically a one-off design that they sell at dealer cost. They are made in limited numbers and often sell out quickly. They have released a Little Bird in 3 of the last 4 years (2014, 2015, and now 2017).
The Little Bird 2017 was just released today and it is limited to about 90 pieces. It sells at $320 including free shipping. This is a considerable discount versus something like an RMJ Jenny Wren which is very similar is size and construction to this latest Little Bird.
This tomahawk is basically an ourdoorsy version of the Jenny Wren. It is nearly identical in size to the venerable Jenny Wren, features a hammer pole, and a false edge on top specifically designed for scraping. It is laser cut and machined from 1/4″ thick 80CRV2 steel and has machined G-10 scales. Like all RMJ Tactical tomahawks, it comes with one of their excellent sheaths with MOC Straps (Low).
These were released at Noon, Eastern time so the clock is ticking. Act fast if you want one.
Little Bird 2017
Forward edge: 3.8”
Forward edge to hammer: 4.9”
1/4” oversized thickness 80CRV2
Full tang handle design.
G-10 3D machined handle scales.
24 oz w/o scabbard
30 oz w/ scabbard
Bottom-eject Kydex scabbard with Low Ride MOC Straps (Belt carry) included.
I’ve been through various land nav training courses and it is somewhat of a hobby for me with hours spent hiking around orienteering courses. It isn’t long in these types of settings before you meet the guy who tells you all about how GPS units are electronic, they will fail at the worst time, and you are a bad person if you even carry one. All he ever needed was a map and compass to triangulate his position. Lewis and Clark didn’t have GPS!
Triangulation Doesn’t Always Work
Anyone who has had some formal land nav training is likely familiar with how you triangulate your position using a map and compass but… Have you ever actually tried it outside of a training scenerio? It is a useful skill to have in your back pocket but I have been in more scenerios where it would be difficult or impossible than scenarios where it would actually work. It works great when you have clear views to map features that can easily be associated to landmarks. Cruising around in heavy timber, low visibility weather conditions, featureless areas, or areas where there are too many map features that all look similar can all make triangulation difficult or impossible.
The typical response to this is to tell you that you should never get lost in the first place and there is wisdom in that. We should be terrain associating along the way and tracking our position on the map but what happens when you don’t? What happens when you find yourself traveling through actual wilderness and suddenly you realize that maybe you made a mistake in terrain association a few miles ago and every assumption you have made about navigation since then was likely wrong. What then?
That is where GPS comes in. You should have all the map and compass skills. These skills don’t require batteries and are the bedrock foundation of land navigation but to act like GPS isn’t a proven technology with tremendous application in wilderness travel and preparedness is nuts. A GPS unit and some basic understanding of a simple coordinate system like UTM might be the difference between guessing where you and knowing exactly where you are.
Stop Resisting GPS
Coming to these realizations changed the equipment I carry. It allowed me to downsize and simplify my navigation tools.
I no longer feel the need to carry a sighting compass when a baseplate compass will do. In fact, a good baseplate compass (I like the Suunto M-3 G) generally has more useful features like a larger/longer baseplate for map work, more scales, and UTM roamers. That means I don’t need any other map tools. If you learn how to aim a baseplate compass from the waist, you can remove a lot of parallax when sighting and can actually take very accurate bearings. They are generally smaller and lighter too.
Many of the situations that make triangulation difficult make a sighting compass difficult to use efficiently but there is nothing wrong with a good mirrored sighting compass if you prefer. I use the Suunto MC-2 G. The MC-2 G USGS has tools for common 1:24000 USGS maps.
I have multiple GPS units, most with mapping capability. Mapping can be useful but I always carry a paper map so my most carried GPS is actually a little Garmin Foretrex 401. It spits out a UTM coordinate whenever I need one, runs for a long time on 2 AAA batteries, weighs little, and doesn’t take up much room in my Kit Bag or pack. The Foretrex line has been updated but my 401 still works so I haven’t purchased a new 601. The ability to have a UTM coordinate at my finger tips means the ability to instantly locate myself on a map and a GPS doesn’t have to weigh you down with the existence of compact, proven GPS units like the Foretrex line.
Speaking of maps and UTM, they can’t help you unless you set them up your maps with UTM grids. I generally use CalTopo so I can create my own maps however I want for free. It’s an incredible tool.
GPS isn’t some new technology that is going to get you killed. Modern, purpose built electronics are fairly reliable and spare batteries aren’t hard to carry (you are probably carrying some already). Total reliance on GPS at the expense of map and compass skills is unwise. However, when used as part of a larger land nav skill set, GPS might actually save your bacon in ways that a map and compass can’t. Stop resisting GPS.
RE Factor Tactical’s Pink Operator Band is their latest charity band. 50% of the sales of this special version of the Operator Band will go to the American Cancer Society to benefit breast cancer awareness.
Check out the Pink Operator Band at RE Factor Tactical.
Our review of the GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster is one of the most visited reviews ever posted on this site and we get a number of emails asking questions about it. One of the most common questions I receive regarding the Kenai is how it compares to the Hill People Gear Kit Bag. Well, I happen to be a long time user of both and that sounds like an idea for a post to me!
The Same but Different
At the most basic level, the Kenai and Kit Bag are similar. They are both designed to carry a handgun in the most advantageous position for many outdoor pursuits – on the chest. However, the functionality and materials used are drastically different. This leads to different strengths and weaknesses for both, enough that I have purchased and use both depending on the situation.
Both are better than tucking your handgun into your backpack or not carrying it at all!
Background with the Kit Bag
My background with the Hill People Gear Original Kit Bag is fairly long. I’ve owned one since the first or second run. This was before they added a dummy cord loop and Velcro in the handgun compartment. I simply wanted a way to carry a handgun that was comfortable and concealed while backpacking. The Kit Bag worked well for that but I never really completely filled all the carrying capacity offered by the Original Kit Bag. I eventually sold it and replaced it with a Runners Kit Bag.
The Runners Kit Bag is ideal for me. It has the same footprint as the Original Kit Bag but is slimmer overall since the “middle” cargo pocket has been removed. It is large enough to keep my full sized handgun concealed but significantly slimmer while still offering more than enough carrying capacity to carry some basics.
Background with Kenai Chest Holster
I’ve been using a Kenai Chest Holster since late 2015. I find it to be the best interpretation of a “guide holster” available. GunfightersINC used their experience in the outdoors and some modern materials to bring the guide holster concept into the current century. It is slimmer than any traditional leather guide holster could ever hope to be, offers better retention without the need for a strap, creates a better draw stroke, and its modular.
I’ve worn this holster extensively and I find it to be extremely comfortable and extremely easy to draw from. They even designed the harness so none of the adjusters had to be positioned on the back where it could catch on wader shoulder straps or cause hotspots under a backpack. This is the level of thoughtfulness that went into this holster.
For a long time, the Original Kit Bag was the only way I had to carry a handgun on my chest and it worked. When I added the Kenai Chest Holster to my gear bin, I wondered if it would replace my Kit Bag but it hasn’t. It has only highlighted the strengths of both carry methods.
I can’t replace the Kit Bag because it offers three important benefits over the Kenai:
- It can conceal a handgun without the use of a covering garment.
- It can carry a huge variety of handguns from small to large.
- It can carry additional items in a location that is easy to access.
The Kenai is surprisingly concealable under a cover garment but I live in an area that sees triple digit heat in the summer. I can’t always use a covering garment. I’ve used my one Kit Bag to carry everything from a Glock 43 or J-Frame, to a Ruger 22/45 Lite with RDS, to a large frame revolver. Additionally, the Kit Bag is great for carrying items like nav tools (compass, GPS, UTM grid, etc.), basic survival goodies (lighter, some bits of tinder, etc.), and other items you may want close at hand. It may not seem like a big deal but the efficiency of reaching to your chest for gear like chapstick or a GPS unit versus having to stop and remove your pack is not trivial when you are trying to cover ground.
I can’t replace the Kenai Chest Holster because it offers three important benefits over the Kit Bag:
- It is more compact.
- It offers a faster, more streamlined draw stroke.
- It is more concealable.
The Kenai Chest Holster is smaller and slimmer than the Kit Bag that makes it a little easier to dress/pack around. That also means it is cooler to wear and that can be big deal when it is 95+ with less than 15% humidity. The Kenai’s draw stroke is very fast and straightforward. There is nothing between your hand and a full firing grip on your handgun with Kenai. The Kit Bag is fast but the Kenai is faster – how much faster will depend on your specific gear and some training. Finally, if I absolutely need to conceal the fact that I am carrying and the weather permits, the Kenai conceals under a coat easily.
I live in a very rural area that is a destination for outdoor recreation. That means that we have a healthy mix of the NRA crowd and Sierra Club crowd. Our property is on the outskirts of National Forest land that contains Grizzly habitat. My choice for which carry “system” to use often comes down to balancing those factors.
If I am headed to a popular trail, I know I am more likely to encounter the Sierra Club side of the house and prefer to remain discreet in how I carry. I usually reach for the Kit Bag in that case. If I am working or hiking on our own property, I don’t have to worry about concealment and I almost always use the Kenai. If I am going on a very long day hike (or overnighter), I am more likely to reach for the Kit Bag because of the convenience of carrying important items in the outer pocket. If I am going into an area where the grapevine says there was recent bear activity, I am inclined to take the Kenai.
There are always factors to balance when deciding which gear works for you. If you are knee deep in big coastal brown bears while fishing for salmon you might choose differently than you would if you were knee deep in college kids while hiking the Appalachian Trail. For me, both the Kenai Chest Holster and Hill People Gear Kit Bags have been invaluable and I am glad I have both in my gear box.
Mountain Ridge Gear has been making overbuilt duffel bags in a number of sizes for a long time. In fact, we mentioned them here on Jerking the Trigger way back in 2010! They never stopped making them but they were only available under another well known pack maker’s brand name for a last few years. Now the bags are back under the Mountain Ridge Gear name and they are a still a bargain.
The bags are built from 1000D Cordura with #10 YKK zippers and available in 4 sizes: Extra Small, Small, Medium, and Large.
- XS: 9″ x 4″ x 4″
- SM: 13″ x 6.5″ x 6″
- MD: 18″ x 8″ 8″
- LG: 23″ x 11″ x 11″
Hill People Gear has a limited run of their Original Kit Bag V2 in Blaze Orange with Ranger Green accents. This colorway would be perfect for hunters, search and rescue personnel, or anyone trying to stay visible in the woods.
You may remember the Sagewood Gear Spool Card that we posted recently. That larger model has now been replaced with the new Mini Spool Card. The Mini Spool Card is about the size of a credit card but still holds 30 feet of #36 bank line with which it comes pre-wrapped. The Mini Spool Card has a lanyard loop and cord retainer slot at each end.