Archive | Outdoor Gear

Terävä Skrama 200

The original Terävä Skrama is a remarkable large knife in terms of its functionality and its affordable price. The Skrama chops, splits, carves, and generally just makes itself handy in the backcountry. It is a favorite of mine and I highly recommend it. But, maybe you’ve looked at the Skrama before and thought that you would prefer something just a bit smaller. The new Skrama 200 may be just the ticket.

The original Skrama 240, with its hand-and-a-half grip and impressive 240mm (about 9.4″) long blade, comes in at 17.93″ overall length. As you might guess from the name, the new Skrama 200 has a 200mm long (7.87″) blade, with a more traditional one-hand grip, has a 13.77″ overall length. It weighs 150 grams less than the original at 320 grams. Both are ground from super tough 80CrV2 steel, feature a 2″ portion of the blade near the handle with a finer 25-degree edge for finer work, and have an overmolded grip.

The Skrama 200 should be easier to pack while still offering a lot of capability and, like the original Skrama 240, it does it all without the high price. The Skrama 200 and the rest of the excellent Terävä line of knives is available at Varusteleka.com.

New from TOPS Knives: Baja 4.5 Reserve Edition

The TOPS Baja 3.0 and Baja 4.5 are my all-time favorite TOPS knives. To me, they stand out in TOPS’ line for their excellent full flat primary grinds, simple but comfortable handles, and they are relatively thin behind the edge making them great all-around cutters. Now there is a new addition to the Baja line – the Baja 4.5 Reserve Edition.

The Baja 4.5 Reserve Edition is very much like the original Baja 4.5 except executed with colors and finishes typical of TOPS’ other bushcraft knives for a classic and classy look. It has a new black traction coating, tan micarta handle slabs, and better-looking handle hardware. Other than that, everything that makes the original Baja 4.5 great is still there like 5/32″ 1095 steel with the excellent TOPS heat treat, a very nice leather dangler sheath, bow drill divet in the handle slabs, well-executed jimping, and more.

Pick up the Baja 4.5 Reserve Edition from an authorized dealer or from TOPS at https://www.topsknives.com/baja-4-5-reserve-edition

Specs:

  • Overall Length: 9.25”
  • Blade Length: 4.88”
  • Cutting Edge: 4.5”
  • Blade Thickness: 0.16”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 RC 56-58
  • Blade Finish: Black Traction
  • Handle Material: Tan Canvas Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 6.4oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 12.2oz
  • Sheath Material: Brown Leather
  • Sheath Clip: Belt LoopDesigner: TOPS Team

Sneak Peek: Ultralight Saw from Knife Point Gear

I’ve been following Alex Garland, OUTDOORS55, on Youtube for quite a while. He has some of the most practical knife sharpening information I have found which is what originally brought me to his channel. He’s also a knife maker and is going to be releasing a very interesting ultralight saw in the next week.

The saw consists of a carbon fiber tube handle with metal reinforcing ferrules at the ends. This handle can accept any standard reciprocating saw blade which is extremely clever considering how inexpensive and plentiful pruning/clean wood blades are. These blades are also made for use in power tools and tend to be very durable compared to some higher performance folding saws.

The saw comes with a 12″ carbide tipped pruning recip blade, a blade cover, and the handle itself. The whole package including the blade cover weighs in at 3.95 ounces. That is extremely impressive when you consider that most 7-8″ folding saws weigh almost twice that (6.6 ounces for something like a Bahco Laplander).

The stats on this saw are impressive but when you consider that it breaks down into two compact parts and doesn’t use expensive replacement blades, it looks like a real winner. Pricing and the exact release date are not available at this time. You can keep your eye on Alex’s Instagram feed and KnifePointGear.com for more information.

Review: Motorola T800 and T801 Talkabout Radios

FRS radio communications can’t be private… can they?

The rechargeable battery packs in some of my older FRS radios gave up the ghost recently so it seemed like a good time to update. FRS radios haven’t seen much innovation in the last several years so I was surprised to come across the Motorola T800 and T801 Talkabout radios with a feature set that is actually quite innovative and very useful.

These radios can be paired with a smartphone to serve as a sort of off-grid, FRS based modem for sending text messages and other info. So… do they work? The short answer is yes, but they come with all the shortcomings of FRS radios with which you are likely already familiar.

Overview

The T800 and T801 radios are identical except for color and the T801 radios come with some additional accessories. These are fairly typical FRS radios with 22 channels and 121 privacy codes. They feature access to NOAA weather radio and ca be configured to give weather alerts. They come with a rechargeable NiMH battery pack but can also be powered from 3 AA batteries. Per the FCC listing, these radios output 750mW (FRS max is 2W but power makes almost no difference with these radios for a variety of reasons).

The housings are weather resistant but not submersible. The quality is typical Motorola which is to say it is quite good. They feel sturdy.

Finally, the feature that sets these apart is Bluetooth connectivity. This is used to pair the radios with your phone in order to integrate with Motorola’s free Talkabout app which contains the connected functionality. It is not used for wireless headsets or anything along those lines.

Observations from Use

As FRS radios go… these are typical. If you have ever used FRS radios before, you are familiar with their limitations. Radio manufacturers often claim ranges of 30+ miles but that rarely (if ever) works out in the real world. I tested these around my home which consists of low hills, lots of timber, and few structures. These are hardly ideal conditions but they are a good test. My testing consisted of placing one radio inside my home with my wife while I walked around our area and attempted to contact her along with general usage on our acreage.

I was able to have reliable voice connections regardless of conditions within a 1/2 mile. At 3/4 a mile, voice calls were generally fine but I could put myself in positions where I was too low or there was too much timber to make contact. Generally, I could make contact easily out to 1 1/2 or 2 miles as long as I was intentional about my positioning. This is fairly typical of any decent quality FRS radio that I have tried.

In my experience, the connected features of these radios work well with one very annoying caveat. Before I get into that, I’ll outline a little about how these features work. The radios may be paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Once connected, they may be used in conjunction with Motorola’s free Talkabout app to send individual or group texts and share locations via maps as long. All of the connected features are handled via the app with the radios acting as a sort of modem.

Each user is registered to the app which adds a useful layer of privacy that is lacking with FRS voice communications. You can send texts to a specific radio user or blast them out to anyone who may be in range. This privacy is perhaps the best feature of these radios.

The data range is shorter than the voice range. I was able to send texts from almost 1 1/2 miles but I also had texts that failed to send at 3/4 mile. Like voice communications, it will be heavily dependant on your conditions but is generally reliable within a 1/2 mile.

Now for the annoying caveat: You can turn off any and all tones on these radio for silent operation… except for one. Whenever the radio connects to or disconnects from Bluetooth, there is a fairly loud tone. It can not be turned off which is unfortunate because, like many Bluetooth devices, these can and will drop their connection at inopportune times. Sometimes just having your phone on one side of your body and the radio on the other is enough to interrupt the Bluetooth connection resulting in a surprise tone. This is obviously not ideal for hunting or home security applications but it can be mitigated by turning off Bluetooth or only using it intentionally. Using an earpiece may also eliminate the tone, at the external speaker at least, but I have been unable to test this.

Wrap Up

FRS radios are, in my view, the foundation of almost any emergency communication plan. They do not require a license to operate and, chances are, your neighbors already have some compatible radios. They are not without limitations but they are the first rung in the ladder.

The Motorola T800 and T801 are solid, typical FRS radios with the useful addition of off-grid text messaging and location sharing. They expand your communication options in a useful way when you are out of range of a cell tower or in emergencies. Perhaps most importantly, they add a method of communication that is more private than voice communications over FRS frequencies.

I purchased 4 of the T801 Talkabouts from Amazon for my own use. If you are interested, you can check them out at Amazon.com (affiliate links to follow):

Motorola T800 on Amazon

Motorola T801 on Amazon

Hill People Gear Launches Conner Backpack V2

Hill People Gear just launched the new V2 version of the Conner. The biggest changes relate to the Conner’s evolution of a pocket first, then a pack, to a pack first. It now sports a full suspension, larger water bottle pockets, additional capacity, and more.

We’ve taken our popular Connor pocket / backpack and updated it for version 2. Version 2 is a dedicated backpack, although it still retains the tabs necessary to be used as a back pocket if so desired. The V2 Connor has the following features:

  • Extremely load capable AHBC chassis allows for an optional belt and also carries very comfortably in shoulder only mode.
  • Large main dimensional pocket fully lined with First Spear’s 6/12 PALS cut velcro loop fabric lets you create whatever organizational system you want.
  • Center zip outer pocket with stretchy tweave fabric on the outside expands as you stuff it.
  • Twin outer mesh pockets on either side of the center zip. Sized to take a bike bottle size bottle.
  • Full height zippered spacer mesh pocket on the inside of the pack
  • Hypalon compression wings have a 2 channel pals grid cut into them for additional pouches either inside or outside of the wings.
  • Dual wand pockets are large enough to accept round or GI sized Nalgene bottles. will not accept a GI canteen cup
  • Generously long bottom compression straps.
  • Includes (2) ITW repair female SR buckles.This allows conversion of the straps from center pull to side pull.

You can learn more in the video below and at HillPeopleGear.com.

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