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Archive | Survival

Boker Plus Krein PSK

The Boker Plus PSK is one of the new additions to the Boker line. The PSK is a Tom Krein design that is already a successful part of hisĀ  full custom knife line. Krein designed the PSK to be a do-all Personal Survival Knife. The original design is both very tough and very compact and the Boker Plus version looks to be no different.

The Boker Plus PSK has a 3″ blade and is made from 4.7mm thick 12C27 steel. Even with this thick blade stock, it should be an excellent cutter due to the tall flat grind. The handle slabs are black G-10 with red spacers. It comes with a kydex sheath with Tek-lok. The MSRP of the PSK is $99.95 and the street price should be considerably lower.

Check out the Boker Plus PSK on the Boker USA website.

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ESEE Navigation/Survival Card

I like tools that are simple, easy to carry, and multi-functional. The new ESEE Navigation/Survival Card is certainly all of those things.

The card is made from clear plastic and comes with a Tyvek protection sleeve. It features map rules and UTM corners for the most common map scales found in the USA. It also features a compass rose with 22.5 degree increments, a list of ground to air signals, and other useful survival related information.

The best thing about the ESEE Navigation/Survival Card is the form factor. It is business card sized which makes it perfect for storing in a wallet or small E&E/Survival kit. It wouldn’t be your first choice on an orienteering course but its convenient size makes it more likely that you will have it when you really need it. This card, coupled with a button compass or small baseplate compass would make a somewhat imprecise, but very usable combination.

This card, like all other great tools, is simple and versatile. It also happens to be very inexpensive. Check it out at the ESEE website.

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Princeton Tec Remix Pro – Now in Multicam!

Here is some big news… Keep an eye on Princeton Tec retailers and you will soon see a familiar camo pattern – Multicam. Princeton Tec is now making the Remix Pro with a tan light body and a Multicam strap. If you look closely you can also see the improved, taller “fence” around the switch. I will post a full review on this light soon.

The new Remix Pro features a tan body and Multicam head strap. Click to enlarge.

I also have a new and improved version of the Princeton Tec MPLS in hand. Stay tuned for pictures and a complete review.

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Review: ESEE 4 Series Custom Handle Kits from The-Knife-Connection

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Users of ESEE Knives have been asking for years to purchase extra handle scales so that they can customize their knives. Until just days ago, there was no source for aftermarket “drop-in” handle scales and ESEE would not sell the scales separately because they require some hand fitting. Dale Stoops, the owner of The-Knife-Connection (T-K-C), saw the potential in making custom handle kits and seized the opportunity. Now ESEE owners have some functional and attractive options for customization.

Fit and Finish

The first thing you notice when take these scales out of the packaging is that they are very attractive. They come in a growing number of colors that should suit just about everyone. The scales are finished nicely with a very fine texture that is at least as “grippy” as the factory linen micarta scales, if not more so. The set that Dale provided for this review are the Red & Black G-10 which is very attractive, especially on a black knife. All of the handle contours really show off the various layers of red and black colors.

The fit of the handles that I was provided is excellent. They fit almost perfectly flush along the front of the grip and are only slightly raised at the spine of the grip (completely unnoticeable in use). The standard ESEE scales are hand fit so for a drop-in set of scales to fit this well is a testament to the precision with which these grips are machined. All of the holes for the handle bolts are nicely recessed so that the screw head sits flush and a lanyard hole is provided. There was obviously a lot of care in the design and manufacture of these handle kits.

Click to enlarge.

Additional Contours

These aren’t just fancy colored clones of the standard handle scales. These slabs were built to increase functionality and improve ergonomics. Many users of ESEE Knives have found the handles to feel a bit too thin, too short, or both. These new handle kits from T-K-C address those issues by adding thick palm swell and about .5″ of extra length. The standard ESEE handle is a uniform .570″ thick. The T-K-C handle features a palm swell that is about .725″ at the widest part of the spine and tapers down to about .580″ at the spine’s thinnest point. The scales are subtly thicker at the back of the grip (the spine) than at the front (where the fingers typically wrap). Even with the additional thickness, these scales still work perfectly with the standard kydex ESEE-4 sheath.

The T-K-C handle features contours that make it very comfortable to use. Shown with a standard ESEE-4 handle for comparison. Click to enlarge.

Note the additional length of the T-K-C handle. Click to enlarge.

In Use

The result of all of these contours is a handle that locks itself comfortably into the users hand. The broad spine gives plenty of surface area to spread the force of powerful push cuts like notching. The slight thinning toward the front of the grip keeps the handle from feeling like a 2×4. The palm swell locks the knife into the hand during pull cuts or thrusting cuts. The short “hook” at the pommel end of the grip works extremely well for times that you want to choke down of the knife. This technique is commonly used to make a short knife behave like a longer one for light chipping.

One of the best things about the original handle is that it let the user comfortably grip the knife in just about any way they wanted and, with all the additional contours, you might think that the T-K-C handle kit would ruin that but it doesn’t. It still feels great in every grip that I tried. This is a well designed handle that is suited to a variety tasks.

Conclusion

These handle kits are a worthy addition to a classic knife. They improve the appearance and function of the knife while still maintaining the use of the standard sheath. If you have been wanting to dress up your ESEE-4, then look no further than these Custom Handle Kits from The-Knife-Connection.

These kits are available at The-Knife-Connection. While you are there check out their selection of ESEE-4 blades without handles and ESEE-4 sheaths so you can build a custom ESEE-4 from the ground up. Also, watch for Custom Handle Kits for other ESEE models coming soon.

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Patch Collecting: BladeForums Wilderness & Survival Skills Forum Patches

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The Wilderness & Survival Skills Forum on BladeForums is one of the best sources of survival related information on the internet. It is populated by some very friendly and helpful people who don’t just talk about survival, they practice it. These patches are available in two designs with 2 color schemes for each design. You can purchase them in the Wilderness & Survival Skills forum.

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New Wallet E&E Kit from ESEE

ESEE continues to expand their Izula Gear brand with the new Wallet E&E kit. The Wallet E&E kit won’t replace a traditional survival kit. It is designed to be a compact, easy to carry, last ditch E&E kit.

Click to enlarge.

The gear contained in this kit serves a more specific purpose than just surviving. It is gear that is used for a very specific type of survival – Escape and Evasion. This is why you will find some non-typical items like a non-metallic handcuff key, kevlar cord, and a titanium blade. These items are chosen for their ability to be hidden on your person and stay undetected should the need to escape a bad situation arise.

 

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A set of the previously reviewed Titanium Bogota Rakes would compliment a kit like this very well.

The Wallet E&E kit will be available soon from ESEE Dealers.

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Review: Marion Outdoors Flexible Bail for Guyot Bottles

You may remember that I recently mentioned a clever new flexible bail for Guyot Bottles that is made by Marion Outdoors. Marion was kind enough to provide one of his bails for review and I have good news… It is every bit as clever as it looks.

The Flexible Bail can be seen here attached to a Guyot Bottle. Click to enlarge.

Stainless steel Guyot Bottles are great gear. These bottles do way more than just carry water. They can also be a portable cooking and water purification bottle. This is because they are made of single wall stainless steel, just like a pot or pan you might have at home. They can be placed directly on or hung over a fire (after removing the lid). However, the challenge with using them in this manner is how do you handle the hot bottles.

Simply slip the loop over the “stop” to fasten the Flexible Bail to the bottle. Click to enlarge.

That is where the Flexible Bail from Marion Outdoors comes in. It quickly and easily attaches to any stainless steel Guyot Bottle to provide an easy handle for moving it off a fire or a bail for hanging it over a fire.

The clever design allows you to use a notched stick to safely and easily move a hot bottle on and off the fire. Click to enlarge.

The Flexible Bail is made from braided steel wire so it is quite capable of standing up to the heat of a fire. When it is off the bottle it is a simple loop with a smaller loop at each end. The smaller loops are fastened around the main loop which makes a sort of sliding loop that can be fastened to the collar of the bottle. One of the smaller loops is held in place by a stop. The other smaller loop is just large enough to fit over the stop. This is what allows you to open up the bail enough to slide it onto the collar of the bottle. The installation is simple and intuitive.

This is the sliding loop that fits over the collar of the bottle. Click to enlarge.

The Flexible Bail weighs next to nothing and takes up almost no space in your pack. It folds down small enough that you probably have space for it in the same pouch that carries your water bottles. Every ounce counts when you are carry everything you need to survive for multiple days and the function of this Flexible Bail far overcomes its small weight penalty.

The Flexible Bail easily folds down to about the same diameter as a Nalgene/Guyot bottle (it can be folded even smaller if you choose). Click to enlarge.

This Flexible Bail is so simple and so functional that this review nearly wrote itself. If you own stainless Guyot Bottles, but you don’t own one of these Flexible Bails you are missing out on the full experience of what these bottles can do. Marion Outdoors really has a winner on their hands.

The Flexible Bail is compact even when it is completely unfolded. Click to enlarge.

 

You can contact Marion to order your own Flexible Bail at BladeForums or on his blog, Marion Carry.

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Review: Guyot Designs Stainless Steel Nalgene Bottle

I posted about the very clever flexible bail for Guyot Designs stainless bottles from Marion Outdoors just a few days ago. While the flexible bail is certainly very cool, it dawned on me that I have never posted about the bottles that the bail is designed to work with.

Guyot Design stainless bottles should look very familiar to you. They are essentially just a stainless steel version of the venerable Nalgene bottle. They feature the same wide mouth for easy cleaning and even accept the same lids and accessories as the Nalgene bottles. The Guyot Design bottles are available in a few shapes and sizes but the one that I like best is “The Standard” 38 ounce bottle because it very closely mimics the shape and size of a standard 32 ounce Nalgene.

Guyot Designs also feature a much nicer lid than the standard Nalgene bottles. The lid is attached via a piece of sterling climbing rope that has a two sliders so the rope can easily be separated from the bottle and the lid. Being able to easily remove the lid is a must if you are going to use these bottles on or near fire.

So what makes these worth the extra weight and cost over a standard plastic Nalgene bottle? Versatility. Versatility. Versatility.

These bottles can handle any temperature extreme thanks to their construction. I have hiked in temps that were cold enough to partially freeze my water bottle. That isn’t a problem with a stainless water bottle. You can simply remove the lid, then place it near or even on your fire to thaw your water. It can be used to heat water for cooking and even purify water by boiling in a pinch. They are a truly multi-functional piece of potentially life saving equipment.

The ability to purify water alone makes them worth the extra weight and cost. You have to carry water anyway, so it might as well be in a multi-functional Guyot Designs bottle.

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Marion Outdoors – Flexible Bail for Guyot Bottles

I am a big fan of Guyot Designs Stainless Steel Nalgene water bottles. They are just so much more versatile than standard plastic Nalgene bottles. Because of their stainless steel construction, they can be used directly on a fire for cooking or water purification. The problem is that they can be difficult to handle when they are hot. Sheath maker and outdoorsman, Marion David Poff, has come up with a very convenient solution.

Click to enlarge.

Marion is selling a bail that is constructed from braided steel wire through his outdoor product company, Marion Outdoors. The rope simply slides onto itself at both ends which creates a loop that can be slipped under the lip of the stainless bottle. Once the bail is in place it can be used to suspend the bottle over the fire or to remove a hot bottle from a fire. The wire is flexible enough that the bail packs down very small for transport. It is a very clever design that makes an already versatile item even more versatile.

The bails are available directly from Marion on BladeForums.

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Review: Brunton 15TDCL Compass

 

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The Brunton 15TDCL Compass has gone through some changes over the years. For a while, it was the only “true” Silva Ranger Type 15 compass that we could get easily here in the USA. The Silva branded compasses that we have here in the USA are actually made in a variety of countries and sold under the Silva name (you can read more HERE). Brunton used to be importing the real Silva Ranger compasses under their brand but sadly it seems those days are gone. The new 15TDCL compasses are made in China. However, if most 15TDCL compasses are like the one that I am reviewing, they are still very decent compasses.

 

The red bezel gives a unique look and is easy to read. Click to enlarge.

 

Features

  • Adjustable declination
  • Clinometer
  • Luminous points
  • 1:24,000 and 1:50,000 UTM corners
  • Magnifier
  • Lifetime warranty

What Makes it Great?

In spite of my initial disappointment with the compass not being Swedish made, it still retains many of the features that made the Silva Ranger great. It is a lot of compass for the money.

UTM Corners

The best feature of the 15TDCL are the UTM corners on the base plate. I usually use a GPS along with my map and compass. Being able to generate UTM coordinates makes it very easy to translate your GPS information to your map or vice versa. I wish every compass had these on the base plate! They are useful for measuring distance on your map as well.

 

The UTM corners are one of the best features of the 15TDCL. Click to enlarge.

 

Luminous Points

The luminous points on the 15TDCL glow long and strong. They really outclass every compass that I have except my tritium Cammenga lensatic compasses, but that isn’t really a fair comparison. These great luminous points allow the 15TDCL to be used more easily in low light which can be a real asset when you find yourself still a few miles from camp and down in a deep hollow just before sunset.

In Use

A common complaint with some Asian/Pacific made compasses centers on the bezel being able to move too freely. The bezel moves freely but stays in position well on my 15TDCL. Bezel tension is just right. It is also relatively easy to use with gloves and it is very readable. The adjustable declination screw is on the top of the bezel which is nice.

There is a small hole below the mirror that may be some kind of sighting hole like the one on the previously reviewed Suunto MC-2G. However, it is too small and lacks a notch. It just doesn’t work near as well as the well designed sighting hole on the Suunto.

 

This hole works as a lower sighting hole, but it could be larger. Click to enlarge.

 

The 15TDCL is a joy to use with a map thanks to the previously mentioned UTM corners and the 3 silicone “feet”. These feet do a good job of keeping the compass from sliding around on your map. The base plate markings are black but are still pretty readable when used with a map. The markings are also very deeply inset into the base plate which will help it stay readable over years of use.

What Could Be Better?

There is a small amount of “slop” or “play” between the inner compass module and outer ring of the module (the part that has the degree markings). It is a small amount of movement, but I don’t need any more margin of error introduced to my already less than precise orienteering. It hasn’t affected function at this time, but if it gets worse, I will contact Brunton (who has very good customer service).

The marking holes on the UTM corners could be larger. They are so narrow that it takes a very sharp pencil or narrow pen in order to mark your map with them.

Overall

While the 15TDCL may not have the real pedigree of the Silva Ranger anymore, it is still very derivative of the venerable Ranger. If offers a lot of the same functionality. This compass is a solid value in mirrored sighting compasses. It works.

 

Click to enlarge.

 

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