Self Reliance Outfitters 5 C’s Haversack Kit initial review

For the last  year or so we have been quiet at the blog, both Daniel and I have had a lot going on at work and I  have the new baby at home who is 13 Months old now and a wonderful bundle of joy.  But this year my oldest son Rick will be transitioning over from Cub to Boy Scouts and as the baby is becoming less needy and easier for one parent to handle it is time for me to start looking once again into the wilderness and outdoors.  One thing the year has done for me is let me look at what I own and how I want to move forward with my gear and load outs for hikes and camping trips.  One of the major things I wanted to do is slim down what I carry and what I keep around in case of emergency.  Like many of us I have a tendency to fill any bag I get with as much as possible.  That being said I started looking at smaller bags.  I recently got a Maxpedition Jumbo versa pack.  I will do a review on this later but it has become my everyday carry bag because it doubles as a utility bag and a small diaper bag.

With this new philosophy of carrying less but being able to do more I started looking for a more traditional bag/kit to have for day hikes, as a hunting bag, or just to keep under the seat of my truck to have in case of emergency.  I finally settled on the Pathfinder Oilskin Haversack from http://www.selfrelianceoutfitters.com.  I also wanted to have a spare set of equipment to go with the kit, and while I could have canalized other gear and or kits I did not want to do this as I will be helping to outfit my older son with some of my spare gear for BoyScouts.

Priced currently at 99.00 dollars the kit seemed to be a good overall value.  I have been eyeing many of the items that come with the kit for some time now, specifically the water bottle and nesting cup.  I have the PF Stainless Steel Canteen and cook set and love it but  wanted something a little less military looking and something bigger as far as a nesting cup goes for cooking in the field.  So those two big items along with the other perishable items in the kit, like the bank line, fire starters and fire steel the price was just too good to pass up.

I received the kit in yesterday and have been very happy with the quality of the gear and kit so far and wanted to give you my initial opinion on the items.  So lets look at each piece of kit and go over it one by one.

First is the Oil Skin haversack.  This bag is very solidly built and the stitching is very strong.  It has two pockets, one large main pocket where you store the bulk of your gear and one small pocket in the flap that flips over to close the haversack.  The main pocket is 12in x 14in and is large enough to hold all the items that come with the kit with some room to spare.  The small pocket is 12 in x 3.5 in and hold small items like a compass or ferro rod easily. I am looking forward to using the bag and it rides easily on your hip and the strap feels comfortable so far.  The one thing I would change is the strap, I would like to see it clipped on or made wider to reduce stress on your shoulder or to make it easier to add a shoulder pad, but if you don’t over weigh the kit it works.IMG_5868

The next item is the Mora Companion HD knife.  This knife has been reviewed my many people on the web and I will not go into too much detail about it.  I will say having owned many mora knives I have yet to find one that has failed me and all have been easy to use, sharp out of the box and have held up well for everything from light battening of wood to field dressing a deer, to making a PB&J sandwich at camp.  All in all a good starter knife or exceptional back up blade.IMG_5869

The next item is two part, the ferro rod and Mini Inferno fire starter.  I have used the ferro rods from the PF store for a while and they throw good sparks, are fairly thick and have held up well.  The Mini Inferno has worked wonderfully for me as well, I usually get between 10-15 minutes of flame from one and they have worked in damp conditions to start fires for  me with no problems.  The set I got also came in a small metal tin which will turn into a char cloth tin once I have used up all the fire starter. I am confidant that anyone with a fairly new to beginner level of skill with some small practice will be able to use these items to get a flame going.IMG_5874

The next item is a reusable all weather survival blanket in an orange color.  I have used the survival blanket in the past, and have loved working with them and using them as my tarp or ground cloth. This one is new and will remain in the packaging until I need to replace my existing one.  I did not need this item but I know eventually my old one will wear out and or rip and need to be replaced so I saw this as an investment in a future piece of gear.  These space blanket/tarps are a staple item in the survival/bushcraft community for a reason.  They are light weight but significantly more durable than the cheap mylar space blankets, they hold up well and have grommets in them which allow you to use it as a small tarp in many different shelter configurations.IMG_5870

The next item is the Pathfinder Gen 3 32 oz Stainless Steel bottle and 27 oz Stainless Steel nesting cup.  In the past I have used the Guyot Designs Backpacker SS bottle or the straight walled version.  I really enjoy this older bottle but, it has become hard to find in recent years.  Also the backpacker is somewhat top heavy and has a small base so it is prone to tip over.  The strait walled option was an oddball 38 oz and did not work well with some of the water purification options as they are almost all pre measured for a 32 oz container.  The pathfinder bottle is a very worthy successor to the Guyot bottles.  It keeps the large open mouth and does not have the top heavy issue of the backpacker as it is a uniform size all the way down while keeping the 32 oz size for chemical water purification options.  The nesting cup is wonderful and is large enough to make it relatively easy to cook in for one person which is a huge advantage to the other nesting cups I have owned which were just a little too small to cook in.IMG_5871

Finally this brings me to the last item the humble cordage.  The tarred and braided bank line is wonderful.  It is easy to use it for almost all the tasks you would use paracord with in a smaller package.  Living in Texas I also use it quite a bit for trot lines, jug lines or throw lines for catfish in the lakes and rivers here in central Texas.  This lets you carry just a few hooks and allows you to set up a passive fishing system.  I have used bank line for years as my primary cordage while out bushcrafting or camping but have trouble finding the braided kind for sale in my area.  While I could write for hours about cordage I think you get the idea that it is useful and in a small package.IMG_5873

All in all this is a great small kit that will live under the seat of my truck as emergency gear and will be my primary day hike kit for this spring and summer.  I will give you a more in depth review at around 3 months and 6 months in and let you know how the gear holds up.  Priced in at 99 dollars this is a savings of about 27 bucks if you were to buy all the items individually on the PF store.  You might be able to get all the items cheaper by buying from multiple sources on the web but you would probably not save much after each individual shipping charge.  For the convenance of having all the items sent to you and packed and ready to go in the haversack I think this is a good value for the money.  The items came packed in the haversack when I unboxed it, so you could order it and take it and put in in your car/trunk/or truck and have a ready made kit to go.

Day Pack options

This daypack is for the large greenbelts and city parks in and around Austin Texas. These large parks are technically in the city limits and there are a lot of yuppy types who freak out if they see someone with a military style bag.

I also use this as my work GHB as i can keep it in my office with me without drawing attention to it, i take it in every Monday and bring it home every Friday and leave it locked in a file cabinet at my desk that way i always have something around just in case. Of course this really only has to get me to my car where there is a larger get home bag but who knows i might not be able to make it to the car.556729_136889729779198_794952236_n

 

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Gear list:

cheap poncho from walmart

2 bandanas

headlamp

small first aid kit

bug spray

work gloves

tube of cotton balls with petroleum jelly, tube has fishing line and two fishing hooks wrapped in electrical tape

fire steel

iodine bottle

LED flashlight

signal mirror

mora companion knife

altoids tin with water purification tablets

altoids tin fire kit with lighter, magnesium rod, jute twine and dryer lent

150 feet of bank line

knife sharpener with small diamond rod

emergency blanket

ultra light tarp

tube of cotton balls

whistle/compas/magnifying lens

aquamaira filter

razor blade

cheap 1 dollar knife from walmart

platypus 32 oz water bottle

 

 

Two year Review Bear Grylls Compact Fixed Blade

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The humble fixed blade knife.  Much used by many and overlooked by so many others who think that only a folder can be small enough to carry regularly.  I have been using the Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Fixed Blade ( really could they not think of a shorter name) for  two years now.  It is my favorite knife in the BG series.  It has one major flaw and that is in the sheath.  The belt sheath has a reversible clip to hold it on to the belt and it will not stay attached.  It slips loose and the knife wants to fall off your belt.  I fixed this issue by glueing the clip in place, this removes the versatility but it keeps the knife on your belt.  This is a small knife with only a 3.4 inch blade and an overall length of 7.8 inches and it weighs in at a light 3.77 oz.  I have found that this is one of my most commonly used knifes around the house.  Any time I am doing yard work or working on a project in the garage I slip it on my belt.  As a utility knife the serrations have actually come in handy as I find myself cutting string, rope, Weed-eater line you name it.  The blade has stayed sharp with only minimal maintenance and the coating has held up very well.  You can commonly find this knife for about 20 dollars on sale or online so it is very affordable.  It is thicker than most Mora’s and being full tang I have no problem banging on it when needed.  It is very comfortable and the handle is very ergonomic and very grippy when wet.  I have used it to cut everything from rope, to grass when laying sod, to trimming small branches when I was to lazy to go grab the clippers.  My 10 year old son has also used the knife at several of this cub scout campouts to do cub scout things such as turn sticks into spears and generally whittle on as much wood as he can.  The sheath holds the knife well after two years and shows no signs of slippage.  The knife will still make feather sticks and will strike a ferro rod very well.  After two years of use I can not recommend the knife enough.  If you want a good small utility blade to throw in a tool box or a pack or the glove box of your car you can’t go wrong with this little gem.

http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-001066-Grylls-Compact-Fixed/dp/B006M9NK1O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428343181&sr=8-1&keywords=gerber+compact+fixed+blade

Bushcraft Xmas

We had a wonderful time with my parents and brother this weekend and had our family Xmas celebration.  My parents really surprised me this year with my gifts.  My mom found me a vintage hudson bay style wool blanket and my dad got me a H&R 12 gauge shot gun.  All in all a wonderful time.  Cant wait to get out and use them. IMG_3870

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Charging in the woods

When Bill and I last went out camping we both took our charging devices to field test them. I took the Power Practical Power Pot V. Bill brought his Biolite Camp stove. We were using an iPhone 5 for testing.

I was very excited to test out the Power Pot. I liked it size of it, even though its big, i was able to fill it up with spices and other cooking gear, to keep things from floating around in my pack. I used the lid/cup all weekend to drink out of. The handles are coated in a nice heat resistant rubber coating and it just looks very cool. The problem that I did have with it was the charging. I had it over the camp fire, make sure you have it filled up with water, the light on the cable would indicate that it was ready to charge so I would start charging. My device would charge for about 2-3 minutes and then I would get an error stating that the device wasn’t recognized, and it would stop charging, i would then have to unplug the phone and plug it back in to get it charging again, repeat until you go crazy. I think the reason for the issue was that as the fire shifted and the hot spot shifted and when that happened the power level dipped and thats when the error happened. The device is nicely built, I love the idea but i really don’t like to have to babysit my device to make sure that it’s actually charging.

Then we got out the Biolite. One of the benefits of this one is that you don’t have to make a separate fire first, its all self contained. With the biolite we didn’t have any problems with the device not being recognized. I think that is because the phone is charging off the battery, not off the fire directly, so if there is a dip in the heat of the fire it doesn’t cause an error on the device. The only issue was that the charge is really slow, but at least all you have to do is feed the fire, not babysit the device as well.

Final Thoughts:

I think that the power pot would work much better over a gas stove with a consistent heat. However, if that is the case and I need to carry a gas stove and fuel as well as the Power pot I think the biolite is a much lighter choice, even with the slow charge time, especially for a long hike in. But if you are day camping with a short hike, I think the power pot with a gas stove is the way to go.

I am looking forward to trying out some other charging methods, like solar. The one that i am most interested in testing is the myFC PowerTrekk, which is a hydrogen powered battery charger.