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Archive | Survival

GPS File Depot

GPS technology has come a long way. My first hand held GPS had a basic base map with major roads and no expandability. It could tell you where you were and where you had been, but it wasn’t always useful for telling you how to get where you wanted to go unless you could walk in a straight line. Now hand held GPS units have evolved to the point that they have touch screens, incredible accuracy, and the ability to display complex topographic base maps. These base maps make the GPS infinitely more useful but they tend to be relatively expensive unless you know where to look.

I recently came across GPS File Depot (GPSFileDepot.com) which is an online repository for free GPS map data from around the world. They have topographic maps, detailed road maps, trail maps, land usage maps, and several other types of very useful maps. I have downloaded several maps that have all been accurate and easy to use. The amount of useful data that is available on this site is staggering.

Keep in mind that these maps represent a significant amount of work on the part of the creators so if you download you may want to consider donating to the site.

If you want to get the most out of your GPS, check out GPS File Depot.

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NUKOTOOLS

Image provided by NUKOTOOLS

NUKOTOOLS is a maker of unique, innovative, and reasonably priced impact tools. The tools are designed to be discreet, last-ditch defensive tools. Each one is hand made from G-10 which is a non-metallic material that fits the discreet mission of the tool.

The Punch Ring (shown in the image above) is the most compact of the three tools that NUKOTOOLS makes. It can be easily carried on a key ring so that you always have it with you. It is extremely easy to use but, as with any defensive technique or device, it is more effective with training. The user places their middle finger through the hole in the center and then makes a fist. The chiseled edge protrudes forward of the fist and serves to concentrate the force of the punch. The broad base presses against the palm to reinforce the fist. Stay tuned for a full review of the Punch Ring.

You can view the full line of NUKOTOOLS on their website.

You should research the legality of these tools before carrying them.

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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

Click to enlarge.

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

Click the image to enlarge.

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.

 

Click to enlarge.

 

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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