Archive | Outdoor Gear

Review: Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set

Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get a lot more than you paid for. The latter is certainly the case with the Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set. I’ve owned this cook set for years and I’ve been using it a lot lately with my new Simple Theory Gear Pack Stove which has reminded me of how much I like it.

This cook set has so many thoughtful features that this review could end up being entirely too long so I will try to hit the highlights in outline form.

Price and Availability – The price is impressive at a glance and it only gets more impressive as you read on. This cook set costs $15 and includes the pot with locking handle (locks open and closed to retain the lid), a lid, and two insulated plastic cups that nest inside the pot. Not only that, but you can get it locally at Wal-Mart or online on Amazon (Prime). It doesn’t get much more affordable or available than that.

Form – Initially, I thought I might dislike the tall, narrow shape of the Adventure Camp Cook Set. Wider pots are usually going to perform better than narrower pots for tasks like melting snow for water. However, I’ve come to appreciate the shape and size over time. It is easy to pack. It is the right diameter for use with most nesting cups (the type that will nest on a 32 ounce Nalgene or similar bottle) and its lid can be shared with said nesting cups. It is still wide enough to fit small canister stove fuel canisters inside yet narrow enough to fit in your pack’s water bottle pockets. Basically, the size and shape are just right.

Details – This cook set is packed with thoughtful details. The handle is long enough that it stays well away from the flame which keeps it cool. The handle also locks over the lid which keeps anything you carry in the pot from spilling out which is handy because this will fit in exterior water bottle pockets of many packs.

The pot has useful graduation markings. Even the included 10 ounce cups have an 8 ounce/1 cup marking which any camp cook will find useful!

The lid can be used with any common 95mm/3.75 inch diameter nesting cup or small pot. If you want to save some weight, the lid can be swapped with lighter weight titanium or aluminum lids available for this common size. Heck, you might even have one already. The bottom of the pot tapers so you can nest a cup on it which can make for a great and compact two pot set up.

Stainless Steel and Weight – The pot is made from stainless steel so it isn’t as light as aluminum or titanium. However, it is still relatively lightweight at just under 14 ounces for the whole set. The pot alone weighs just under 8 ounces. Each cup weighs about 3 ounces so removing one or both of those saves significant weight but they are actually really nice cups/bowls. The cups are actually nice enough that I use them at home sometimes and have a hard time not bringing at least one.

8-14 ounces depending on configuration isn’t that heavy especially when you consider how well a steel pot transfers heat and how easy it is to care for in the field compared to other metals. This is the kind of pot that you can put directly on a campfire or twig stove without concern. Just scour it quickly with a Scotch-Brite pad or a wad of dried ferns and move on.

Wrap Up

This pot has the kind of details that you really want in a cook set but, surprisingly, many of these details are lacking in much more expensive pots. It even has some details that are just really unexpected but cool. This would be a great deal at twice the price.

As I mentioned above, you can find these in just about any Wal-Mart outdoor section for $15. If you need an even easier way to add one to your kit, Amazon has them for the same price with Prime shipping (affiliate link): Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set on Amazon

Pathfinder Ti Bush Pot

The new Pathfinder Ti Bush Pot is the first in a series of titanium cookware that will be introduced by the Pathfinder School and Self Reliance Outfitters. The 1100ml bush pot features full titanium construction, a locking bail, folding handles, a lid with strain holes, graduation markings, and a mesh storage sack.

It weighs in at 5.5 ounces and has enough volume to cook for 2 or to handle snow melting duties for a single user. At less than $40, it is fairly affordable compared to many Ti cooking vessels of this size, let alone with these features.

SelfRelianceOutfitters.com

Cold Steel Spetsnaz Trench Shovel

I am a big fan of the Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel, so I was excited to see that they are bringing out a new shovel for 2020. The original Special Forces Shovel is compact enough to be carried on a pack for backcountry camping and many people use them in their vehicle kits. However, when it comes to vehicle kits, there is often room for a larger, more efficient shovel. That is where the new Spetsnaz Trench Shovel comes in.

The Spetsnaz Trench Shovel is very much like the original Special Forces Shovel but it is larger in a few key dimensions. It has a slightly larger head and a handle that is around 10″ longer. Other than that, it keeps all the other features that make the original great like the steel spade-shaped head, sharpened working edges, and durable construction.

ColdSteel.com

Review: OC Tactical KGB and KGB 2.0

I’ve used an OC Tactical Kickass Grocery Bag (KGB) for years now to carry just about anything. It’s a great do-all bag for everything from firewood, to gear for a range session, to groceries (which, ironically, I have never carried in it). I have come to love the simple utility of that bag so when OC Tactical rolled out a new and improved KGB 2.0, I couldn’t resist trying it out.

KGB (right) and KGB 2.0 (left)

Overview and Improvements

The KGB is kind of like those reusable grocery bags available at a lot of higher-end grocery stores… except its actually made in such a way that the handle won’t blow out on the second time you use it (or ever). The original KGB featured 1000D Cordura Nylon construction with a one-piece, seemless Vinyl Coated Polyester bottom that is completely waterproof. The handles are made from 1.5″ wide webbing and are long enough to put on your shoulder.

The new KGB 2.0 has all of that but also has some additions. It has a removable shoulder strap (the strap is included). It also has an internal lanyard clip so you can hang items like keys inside the top edge of the bag. Finally, OC Tactical added a slip pocket on one side and a zippered stash pocket on the other so you can organize smaller items.

Zippered pocket on KGB 2.0
Stash pocket on KGB 2.0
Internal swivel on KGB 2.0

Observations from Use

I have similar overbuilt grocery/carry-all style bags from other makers and the KGB and KGB 2.0 stand out among them for one big reason – the waterproof bottom. The bottom of this bag is totally waterproof (really) which means you can set it down on wet snow without fear of water soaking through. On a recent adventure with Ivan at KitBadger, I used these bags to carry firewood for a pack stove, placing the bags directly on nasty, wet snow without fear of dampening the wood inside.

The waterproof bottom also has another benefit which is probably my favorite thing about the KGB. The vinyl bottom is stiffer than the 1000D Cordura used in the rest of the bag and it gives enough structure that the bag will actually stand mostly open and mostly upright on its own. This makes loading the bag a lot easy than bags with no structure.

These bags are extremely durable and versatile. You can basically store whatever you want in them within reason. I’ve used them to store winter gear like gloves and hats, as range bags, to pick up brass on the range, to carry gear like a chest rig and belt to a carbine course, as totes inside a pulk sled, to carry firewood, to carry river rock from the creek on our property for landscaping, to hold recovery gear in the bed of my truck, to hold emergency winter layers in a winter vehicle kit, and basically anything other than carrying groceries. If it fits and you can lift it, it probably won’t hurt the bag.

This KGB keeping firewood dry in some challenging conditions.

Wrap Up

Think of these bags as a big Cordura bucket. They are as versatile as can be and just about bomb-proof. I review a lot of gear that I “like” and some that might even be my favorite pieces of gear of a certain type. The OC Tactical Kickass Grocery Bags are among my favorite pieces of gear, period, regardless of type.

Check out the KGB and KGB 2.0 here:

KGB at OC Tactical.com

KGB 2.0 at OCTactical.com

Simple Theory Gear Pack Stove FAQ Videos

I recently covered the release of the Simple Theory Gear Pack Stove (see the previous post) which is different than most any twig stove on the market. Simple Theory Gear recognizes this and has taken steps to educate its customers (and potential customers) on their stove with a new FAQ series of videos.

I am a long-time twig stove user. While the basics of building a fire in a little metal box are familiar to me, there are some major differences in the setup, tear down, and functionality that the Pack Stove offers. For instance, the Pack Stove can be quenched with water or snow in order to quickly cool the stove for cleaning and to allow handling sooner than just cooling with air. Most flat pack style twig stoves would warp badly with this kind of treatment (ask me how I know). The videos show this and just about everything else I wanted to know about the stove.

I am planning to spend some quality time with one of these stoves and I found this FAQ video series to be informational and easy to digest. You can view the series on YouTube: Simple Theory Gear YouTube Channel

SimpleTheoryGear.com

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