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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

 

Click to enlarge.

 

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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Review: Suunto MC-2G (Global) Compass

 

 

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The Suunto MC-2 is a compass that is widely considered one of the finest mirrored sighting compasses available. It is similar in many ways to the venerable Silva Ranger (type 15). For the MC-2G, sometimes called the MC-2 Global, Suunto started with the MC-2 and took it to the next level with the addition of their revolutionary global needle. The result is a truly excellent compass – a modern classic.

Features:

  • Adjustable declination
  • Clinometer
  • Jeweled bearing
  • Additional sighting hole
  • Luminous points
  • Global needle
  • 1:24,000 and 1:62,500 map scales
  • Magnifier

What Makes It Great?

Many of the above features are common to most premium compasses. However, there are two features that really set the MC-2G apart.

Additional Sighting Hole

The additional sighting hole is genius. With most compasses, the user must align the compass and then look through the sights on the top of the mirror. It is common to move slightly during this operation which takes the compass out of alignment and introduces a small margin of error in your azimuth. The Mc-2G has a second sighting notch at the bottom of the mirror. This notch sits in the center of a large viewing window. It is much easier to align the compass and sight through the lower notch without lifting your head at all. I find it much easier to use than the higher notch on most compasses.

 

 

The MC-2G features an additional sighting hole below the mirror. Click to enlarge.

 

Suunto Global Needle

The global needle is what makes this compass truly excellent. Most compasses use a needle that is balanced for specific geographical  zones on the Earth. A compass that is balanced for North America will not work optimally in Australia. The Suunto global needle is a needle that has been optimized to work anywhere on Earth.

In order to achieve this, the needle itself is vastly different than most. The needle is not magnetized. Instead, the needle is attached to a small metal object that looks like a disk or bearing. This “disk” is what is magnetized. The needle is attached in such a way that it can tilt but there are small “wings” on the needle that will prevent it from tilting too far. The net result is a needle that works anywhere, dampens faster than any compass I have ever used, and can be used to take an accurate bearing even when tilted at angles as much as 20 degrees! Even if you never leave North America, you will love this compass because of how quickly it dampens and how forgiving it is.

 

 

The Suunto global needle is ingenious. Click to enlarge.

 

In Use

I have found the MC-2G to be very accurate. The bezel is easy to read, spins smoothly, and stays in place reliably. The bezel is also works better with winter gloves than any other that I have used. The sighting mirror is large, clear, and seems to be mounted very straight.

Map work is a breeze thanks to the red colored map scales. These stand out well against most topo maps. The MC-2G also features 3 rubber “feet” that help the compass stay in place on the map. They stick especially well to the vinyl on map cases.

The adjustable declination is very easy to adjust with the provided tool. The adjustment tool rides unobtrusively on the lanyard until you need it. I should also note that the markings on the compass module make it very easy to return the declination to neutral, which is not the case on all compasses.

 

 

The red map scales stand out against your map. Click to enlarge.

 

What Could Be Better?

The map scales and other markings on the base plate are not as deeply inset as they are on some compasses I have owned. Deeply inset markings help keep the base plate markings readable longer.

The luminous points on the compass do not glow as brightly or as long as some other compasses that I have used. They are really only usable for a short time after charging.

Overall

This is, without a doubt, the finest compass I have ever owned. Most of my experience is on Camennga lensatic compasses and with an old Silva Ranger that I lost years ago. While both of these compasses are great, the MC-2G’s combination of features helps it stand out in the crowd.

 

 

Click to enlarge.

 

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DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer

I like to have detailed maps on hand but it isn’t always practical to have USGS Quads for every place that I might find myself. That is where the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer comes in.

The Atlas & Gazetteer is a soft cover book of topo maps that cover an entire state. The topographic detail is minimal but it is useful. It also has excellent detail on smaller country roads that don’t appear on road maps. The books are quite large which makes them very easy to read but still very portable. They won’t quite fit in a smaller hydration type pack but should fit most multi-day hiking packs or briefcases.

These are money well spent.

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DPx H•E•S•T/F Concept Pictures

We recently mentioned the highly anticipated DPx H•E•S•T/F. Now we have pictures of this exciting new folder from the folks at ESEE and DPx. This is going to be one heck of a knife.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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Patch Collecting: RAT Pack Patch

The folks at ESEE Knives started the RAT Pack as a way to promote participation in their forum. It has grown into an excellent resource for survival related topics and a fun place to hang out. Having cool patches doesn’t hurt either.

The RAT Pack Patch is available to RAT Pack members from Double Barrel Sheaths.

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ESEE Pack Kit – A Knife Based Survival Pouch

Adding a pouch to a knife sheath is nothing new. Leave it to the survival savvy minds at ESEE Knives to add a knife sheath to a pouch! The ESEE Pack Kit is basically a small, well thought out organizer bag that allows you to carry essential survival gear. The unique feature is that the sheaths that come with ESEE Knives can be integrated into the pouch.

The ESEE Pack Kit is the second generation of this concept. This new version incorporates several improvements that were suggested by ESEE Knife users and still manages to cost less than the original. It will come in two sizes and multiple colors. It can be carried via a shoulder strap, on your belt, or by attaching it to your MOLLE/PALs gear.

This looks like just the thing for a minimalist survival kit.

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ESEE and DPx

Jeff Randall, co-owner of ESEE Knives and Randall Adventure Training (RAT), has announced that DPx will spawn its own brand in the ESEE Family. DPx is the collaboration of renowned adventurer Robert Young Pelton and ESEE Knives. The DPx Gear H.E.S.T. was the first fruits of this joint venture and now we can look forward to many other items.

 

DPx Gear HEST

 

The new DPx line will feature items that are targeted towards adventurers and a the tactical market while ESEE Knives continues to serve the survival market. You can look forward to a H.E.S.T. Folder, DPx soft goods, and other items. There will also eventually be DPx specific training courses offered.

I am really looking forward to seeing what comes of this collaboration. I will keep you up to date as products are released.

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