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.

Gerber Bear Grylls Paracord Knife Review

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The Gerber fixed blade paracord knife in the Bear Grylls line of knives is  on of my favorite knives in the line and one of the best made knives in the Bear Grylls series.  The blade is small, about 3 inches long with a thin handle wrapped in bright orange paracord.   You get just under 5 feet of paracord and the wrap is very grippy and makes a nice non slip handle for genera use.  There is a small choil that makes using the blade for fine tasks easier and allows you to adjust your grip on the blade for a variety of uses.  The blade is a standard drop point design and is very functional as a small camp knife or utility knife, good for processing small game, cleaning small fish, utility tasks around camp or for yard work or daily use. The blade has held a good edge and came shaving sharp out of the box and has only required light honing to stay that way.  The sheath is wonderfully designed and fits on a belt very securely.  You can also adjust the sheath so that it rides in a variety of ways, vertically, or as a left or right draw, there are also holes on it to tie cordage to to make a neck knife or strap it to a pack.  For the price this is a great backup blade or small primary bushcrfaft or utility knife.  Though there are knives in the Bear Grylls series I do not like this one I fully recommend.  If you want a good solid small knife that will store easily in may places from a backpack, to a glove box this knife will fit the bill.

Battle Horse Knives Bush Baby initial impressions

Daniel and I had the pleasure of meeting the guys from Battle Horse Knives at the NRA’s annual meeting in Houston.  I have to say that they were some of the nicest people we met at the gathering.  To give you an idea of what it was like, there were over 500 vendors and around 70,000 attendees.  Even with the press of the crowd these guys to the time to stop and talk with us about their products and what they offer, they also showed a genuine interest in the Texas Bushcraft community and what Daniel and I are doing with this website, reviewing and testing products for the average person.  They were also kind enough to donate a knife for us to review  and give away.

So without further ado here is the blade they donated:

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The Bush Baby

Its a great little knife and I am going to give you my first impressions of this blade.  Also a note, we will be giving this blade away but we are going to put it through the ringer first up to and including field dressing and skinning out a deer so the give away wont be for a while.  I am going to put this knife through its paces over the summer and into the fall and I will be doing several reviews of this blade over the next few months, I might even let Daniel play with it.

So first off I will say this is a smaller blade than I am used to, I usually carry a blade with a length between 3.5 – 5 inches in length. The Bush Baby measures in with a blade length of ?  and an overall length of ?.  However while smaller than what I am used to the blade was easy to use and big enough for most of the small tasks I ran it through in the back yard last night.

So first I used it to limb a small limb that came off of one of the trees in the back yard.

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It handled the task well and in just a moment I had all the little twigs off of the limb.

Next up was feathering the stick.  This was still a very green piece of wood but the knife did a great job making a little feather stick on the large limb.

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Next up was making a quick notch in the wood and again the knife was more than up to the task.

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Last I wanted to see how it would do in making a quick spear point and I have to say I am really happy with how it worked.

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So after working on the branch for a while I wanted to see if the knife had kept its razor sharp edge, the knife took the hair off my arm like it was a razor blade.

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The blade also has a flat ground back for throwing sparks from a ferro rod as can be seen below.

My first impression is that this is a great little blade and I will be happy carrying it in the bush I am excited by the sheath and its large hanging belt loop, the quality of the leather and stitching is top notch and the fact that it has a loop for a ferro rod.  I will give a better review of the knife as I get to  use it in the field as my all around utility blade.  Some of the things coming down the line for this blade are, fishing, running trot lines for catfish, as a camp blade and for processing deer and other game, cant wait to really put it through its paces.

Check out this knife and their other great knives at http://battlehorseknives.com

Mora Companion Review

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Ah the mora companion this is probably my favorite light duty knife. It has a slightly thicker, stronger and longer blade than the mora 511 which makes it quite a bit more robust. It is still a rat tang knife and not full tang but has held up well under quite a bit of use. The clip on the sheath fits on most belts much better than the 511 sheath. The knife has a very small finger guard, more of a bump on the handle, to keep you from slipping forward onto the knife blade. The grip is rubberized and very grippy especially when wet. The knife came razor sharp, which is common for a mora blade, and has held and edge very well and is extremely easy to sharpen. I carry this every day in my utility bag or my backpack so I always have a fixed blade knife on me and it is light enough you forget its even in the bag unless you need it. It is also small enough not to take up a ton of room in your day bag. This knife has worked well making feather sticks, splitting small logs, filleting fish and skinning out and processing the meat of a white tail deer.

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Mora 511 Review

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Well lets start with the pros and cons.:

Pros: Cheap, Durable, Grippy, Fingergard, Sharp, Tough.

Cons: Rat Tang, Thin, Sheath, Fingergard

So how does this knife compare to other hight dollar knives, it is wonderful that is how it compares.  This little knife is a work horse it will do almost anything you want it to.  Now will it break if you use it for lots of battoning of wood, probably but its not made for that, this is not a full tang survival knife.  What this is, is a great starter and backup knife.  I got this knife for 8 dollars with two dollars for shipping, and after taxes it came out to about 10.50 US.  Now for the money I don’t think you can beat this knife.  It will cut anything and it came sharper than some razors I have had.  It sharpens easily and holds and edge for a while.  The one I have is carbon steel and I don’t know if this one comes in  a stainless model. One minor problem I have is the rounded spine of the knife.  It is difficult to strike a flint on it the way it comes from the factory but this is easily remedied with a file just a little elbow work puts a nice 90 degree spine on it that will throw sparks.

The nitty gritty how does it work, well I have used this knife extensively in the yard, out in the bush and in the kitchen.  I am a firm believer in testing knives to see if they can hold up to preparing food one of my major tests is can it spread peanut butter on bread, and in this case the small blade is only average, not great but not bad.  It is a great chopper in the kitchen and holds a nice edge.  This translates to the field as well, it is small enough to be a great fillet knife for fish and  can be used as a skinning knife on small and large game.

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