Review: D&M Leather Mini Composition Book Cover

The affordable, simple, minimalist leather cover for mini composition books is probably my favorite EDC item purchased in 2023. D&M Leather sells these on Amazon, claiming them to be hand-sewn with a saddle stitch. I was skeptical but took a chance based on the customer pictures. I’m glad I did.

I often carry a standard mini composition book in a back pocket to log workouts, take notes in church, log range data, remind myself of appointments, or anything else I would like to track on actual paper. These notebooks can be surprisingly durable if you buy the type that is stitched and then taped on the binding. However, the basic cardboard or craft paper covers will eventually degrade faster than I can fill one with notes. This is where the leather cover comes in…

The cover does a great job of preventing the notebook from breaking down which allows these dirt-cheap composition books (3 for a $1 at your local Wal-Mart) to last long after you fill it with notes. Not only that, but it looks great and it is actually real saddle-stitched leather. I am blown away with the quality for the price.

You can spend more than the cost of this cover for just one notebook that will stand up to the rigors of pocket carry but you don’t have to. This affordable leather cover adds class and style to your EDC while allowing you to reuse it over and over again on affordable, readily available mini composition books. It is one of those things that is does just one thing and does it satisfyingly well.

D&M Leather Mini Composition Book on

Notes on mini composition books: Look for books with bindings that are stitched and taped. The ones that are glued or stapled will never hold up. Also, this cover comes with a 50 page book but it will easily fit the standard 80 page mini composition books.

Review: Vosteed Chipmunk

The Vosteed Chipmunk is small in size but big on fidget-factor. It also happens to be a useful, fifth-pocket knife option that won’t break the bank. It fits squarely in the “small but mighty” folding knife carry that I like so much.


Blade Length: 2.64″ | 67.10 mm

Overall Length: 6.15″ | 156.20 mm

Blade Width: 0.88″ | 22.40 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Modified Drop Point

Blade Finish:  Black Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.51″ | 89.10 mm

Handle Width: 0.82″ | 20.90 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.488″ | 12.40 mm

Handle Material: G10

Weight: 2.53 oz | 71.70 g

Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper | Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Liner Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Observations from Use

The Chipmunk is a fidgeter’s dream but before we get to that, I want to make it clear that this is an actual, useful knife. The Chipmunk has a useful blade shape that gets a lot done. It came with one of the most refined edges I have seen on a Vosteed to date. And, it is much more hand-filling than its small size would lead you to believe thanks to thick, micro-textured G10 scales. This knife is clearly designed to be used as much as it is designed to be fidgeted with while you are stuck on endless Zoom calls at work.

The Chipmunk combines very smooth action with a great detent and basically every type of opening device known to man. It can be front flipped, top flipped, back flipped, slow rolled, thumb flicked, middle finger flicked, and probably other opening techniques that I am not skilled enough to execute. The detent is tuned such that all of these work well but I find it particularly satisfying to middle finger flick as Vosteed designed this with large comfortable thumb studs with great access from either side.

I also want to call out the back flipper on this knife. It projects up above the pivot rather than out the back. This means there is nothing sticking out the back of the knife knocking into the other items in your pocket when it is folded. There is also nothing to get in the way of choking up on the knife when it is open. In fact, this design allows me to get a full, four-finger grip on this very compact knife. I would like to see Vosteed explore this style of flipper on more knives!

The Chipmunk seems like a knife that Vosteed can really riff on. A little-big knife like this has all kinds of potential for new blade shapes like a wharncliffe or some kind of modified sheepsfoot. These are blade shapes Vosteed also does well on models like the Raccoon and Valkeryie.

There are a couple of changes I would suggest. First, it would be nice if the point was dropped just a bit more on a knife this small. This would make it easier to use the point for cutting which is useful in such a compact design that is so well suited to EDC tasks. Second, it would be nice to see a hollow grind on this design. As I mentioned, the edge came very sharp and very well refined to almost a mirror polish. However, it is a little thick behind the edge thanks to the very short blade height. It cuts very well but this design would be even more laser-like with a hollow grind.

Wrap Up

I have mentioned how much I like this little-big knife/companion knife genre countless times before as someone who carries a fixed-blade knife basically daily. This one is near the top of my list right now. It is a ton of fun thanks to all the fidget potential but it is also just a solid user that offers a surprising amount of grip in such a compact package.

The Chipmunk is currently on sale for up to 15% off for Valentine’s Day at Amazon: Vosteed Chipmunk at

You can learn more about all Vosteed’s offerings at

Review: ThermoWorks ThermoDrop Zipper-Pull Thermometer

I picked up this ThermoDrop Zipper-Pull Thermometer to help fill in the temperature data gap in my favorite areas to explore in my area. The forecasts in my area come out of a city that is about 2 hours away by car and there are countless microclimates between here and there. There are mountain weather websites that do their best to make some algorithmic guesses about forecasts but they often miss the mark which leaves me guessing about how to gear up for trips into the mountains.

Last summer, I spent a night out on a mountain bench just below the tree line. According to forecasts for that elevation, I should have seen temperatures down around 32F. The actual temperature never went lower than 56F which was MUCH closer to the forecasted temps for the valley below. This will help inform future trips into this area.

There are a few specific attributes of the ThermoDrop that make it so useful. First, it is extremely compact and lightweight (smaller than the diameter of a US quarter and weighing in at half a gram). Second, it shows the current temp but also records the lowest and highest temp since it was activated which is the real game changer versus most cheap zipper-pull/keychain thermometers.

I have found no end to the usefulness of this little thermometer. I’ve used it to monitor the temperature inside a cooler during power outages, check temps in a crawl space during a cold snap, test my comfort level in various sleeping bags and insulation layers, and even check temps on training runs/walks during hot summer days.

This is GREAT gear that has changed the way I hike and train. It is small enough that you’ll never leave home without it and useful enough that you won’t want to. I highly recommend it.

Review: Vosteed Corgi

You’ve likely noticed that I am on a bit of a Vosteed Cutlery kick lately. That is for good reason. One, I think they are offering some very compelling and unique knives at a variety of price points. Two, I think they are a brand that is worth watching because they are making some major moves. The Vosteed Corgi is a great example of that. This is a knife that has an incredible, eye-catching, stylish design while also offering great performance. When they offered to send one, I jumped.


Blade Length: 2.99″ | 75.98 mm

Overall Length: 7.17″ | 182.12 mm

Blade Width: 0.84″ | 21.31 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Drop Point

Blade Finish: Black Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2 

Handle Length: 4.18″ | 106.14 mm

Handle Width: 0.92″ | 23.32 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.33 mm

Handle Material: G10

Color: Jade

Weight: 3.50 oz | 99.22 g

Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper

Lock Type: Trek Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Knife Type: Manual Folding

Backspacer Material: G10

Backspacer Color: Jade

Button Material: Stainless Steel

The insert colors and materials vary by model. My Corgi review sample has silver titanium inserts but other options like brass and copper are also available.

Observations from Use

I want to go hard on the design of this knife so I am going to get the cutting performance out of the way up front. It cuts well – really well. Vosteed’s factory edges are great and this relatively thin 14C28N blade has great cutting geometry thanks to the full-height flat grind. The point is excellent thanks to a long swedge grind. It is almost like a scaled-up Swiss Army Knife blade – thin, flat, and slicey.

Now… that design. Oh my. What a great-looking series of knives. The Corgi gives a great first impression with its symmetry which is very stylishly executed. I don’t know of another production knife that is quite this symmetrical.

After you take in that satisfying symmetry, you notice the modern-traditional details that make this knife both futuristic and a throwback at the same time. The shape of the knife and the way the blade slips fully into the handle is a call back to the slim pen knives of yesteryear. The metal inserts around the pivot colors look super slick and hint strongly toward older, bolstered designs like barlow knives while still looking very modern. You have to admit, this is a great-looking knife.

The design isn’t just there for show. The symmetry means that the button lock is always under thumb… easy to find and ready to use. The slimness of the design means this knife slips easily into the corner of the pocket, out of the way, and unlikely to ever get in your way. The Corgi is VERY easy to carry.

The design also bakes in a lot of fun. If you like to fidget with your EDC knife, this one gives you a lot of options. You can depress the button lock and open it with just a flick of the wrist… a very small flick because it’s buttery smooth. You can front flip it, back flip it, slow roll it off the front flipper, or even reach over to snap it open with your index finger (knife guys call this the “reach around”).

The fit and finish are excellent. Vosteed does a lot of machined micro-textures on their handle scales and I don’t think enough people call this out when reviewing these knives. This texture provides great grip without shredding your pockets. It’s a nice touch that you might not notice until you have one in hand.

The Corgi in particular is Vosteed flexing on everyone with their fit and finish because the design doesn’t let them hide a thing. The way the blade nests flush with the handle and the fitting of the inserts around the pivot would make any kind of fitment issues painfully obvious. You won’t find them on my example. Everything is straight as an arrow and satisfyingly flush.

As thrilled as I am with the style of this knife, I do have a nit to pick. The detent is lighter than I would prefer. I suspect that this is on purpose to support all of the various opening methods that this knife offers. I am not saying this is going to open in your pocket. It’s not a dangerous detent. It just isn’t a strong detent like you might find on a liner/frame lock. It would be nice if it was just a bit stronger and the action might feel even snappier.

Finally, because I know the knife guys will be wondering. I spine whacked this knife multiple times and it passed every time. I spine-whacked it lightly at the tip and back at the base of the blade when I took it out of the box. I repeated this after a week of carrying/fidgeting with it and I have done it multiple times since. It never failed and, typical for button locks, the lock-up has actually improved with use. The knife now belongs to my daughter. I trust it.

Wrap Up

This knife is a great cutter. It’s super fun to play with. It carries like a dream thanks to a very slim design. And, as much as I want to say form follows function and looks don’t matter… this knife looks so good, it turns that whole sentiment on its ear. Style is subjective but, to my eye, this is the one to beat.

Learn more at Vosteed often has increased inventory and frequent sales at Amazon. The Corgi is 15% off right now for Valentine’s Day: Vosteed Corgi at

Review: Vosteed Raccoon Crossbar Lock with Aluminum Scales

The Vosteed Raccoon Crossbar Lock is one of my favorite EDC knives in recent history. Vosteed recently allowed me to check out one of the latest versions of Raccoon, one with a different steel and some great looking aluminum scale options. I jumped at the chance in large part because I was interested to try Vosteed’s texture treatment of the aluminum scales on these new versions and to try their Nitro-V blade steel in a knife I already know I like.


Blade Length: 3.25″ | 82.55 mm

Overall Length: 7.60″ | 193.12 mm

Blade Width: 1.07″ | 27.27 mm

Blade Thickness: 0.118″ | 3.00 mm

Blade Material: Nitro-V

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Drop Point

Blade Finish: Satin

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 4.36″ | 110.75 mm

Handle Width: 1.10″ | 27.95 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.40 mm

Handle Material: Aluminum

Color: Orange

Weight: 3.66 oz | 103.80 g

Opener: Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Crossbar Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

Observations from Use

This is a new version of a knife that I already like very much and a lot of my interest in reviewing it will lies in the comparison to the Raccoon with micarta scales that I have already used extensively. The size and shape are identical but scale material and blade steels differ.

There is a lot to be said for how Vosteed treated the aluminum scales on these knives. Aluminum scales can lend a rigidity and weight to a knife that is very satisfying but they can also be cold and slick. Vosteed used a matte powder coat on these scales that seems durable and feels textured in hand which I appreciate. They also milled an attractive texture pattern into the scale. This is the grippiest and most comfortable aluminum-handled knife I own.

I should note that these really are aluminum scales. They are still screwed to the same stainless steel chassis found on other versions of the Raccoon. The result is a knife that feels even beefier than previous versions of the knife and makes a lot of very satisfying sounds when you flick it like only an all-metal knife can.

Vosteed used Nitro-V steel on this version and I was keen to try this considering all the time I have with their 14C28N. On paper, Nitro-V is very similar to 14C28N and I found that to be true in day to day use. It feels similar on sharpening stones and responds similarly on a strop. Edge holding also seemed very similar. Like the Vosteed’s 14C28N, this Nitro-V steel seems to be an excellent, fine-grained, and tough stainless steel that makes a fine choice for an EDC knife that will be pressed into varied tasks.

During my time with this knife, I tried to figure out what I could tell you about how to choose a Raccoon variant for yourself… then a record cold snap hit my area and it became obvious. If you don’t have to deal with cold temperatures regularly, I actually really like the feel and sounds of the aluminum-scaled version of the Raccoon. If you do have cold temps on the regular, the micarta versions will likely feel warmer in hand. It is nice to have options and I hope that one day Vosteed may even offer accessory scales to their customers as it would be very nice to be able to swap them.

In the end, this is just another option for an already great design. It has the same useful blade size and shape. You get the same great handle design that splits the difference so well between being slim in the pocket but hand filling. It is the same just-right EDC knife with a new scale and steel option.

Wrap Up

I own a number of aluminum-handled knives and found this one to be very comfortable and very grippy. The scale treatment provides both a soft, textured feel and plenty of grip. It also happens to look great in my opinion. The Raccoon Crossbar Lock Knives already feel very stout but these new aluminum versions seem to lean even harder into that impression.

Available from or at the Vosteed Storefront on Vosteed Raccoon on

See our previous review of the micarta version of this knife here.

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