Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Camp Tools

I received an order from Ben's Backwoods (a great place for bike camping a few days ago and have been trying out my new bits of camping kit.

Swedish Fire Steel
This is the "scout" version of the Light My Fire fire steel. Not quite as enormous as the "army" version, but probably plenty for a bike tourist with only minimal pyromaniacal tendencies :) Don't know if you can tell, but it's new but already well used as I've tried it on quite a few things to see if I can get them to light. I've gotten the most success out of lighting cotton balls with Vaseline which make a great homemade fire starter. I've also been able to easily light my Trangia stoves with it! There have been times when we couldn't get the stove lit because our matches and lighter got wet.

Mora #2 Knife - Laminated Carbon
This is a fair amount of knife for the money. At $15 you get a plenty sharp, pretty sturdy fixed blade knife that can handle most camp chores. Now, I haven't taken this touring yet but I have been practicing different knife techniques. We had a recent bit of wind that knocked down a lot of Eucalyptus branches around the neighborhood. I broke off a few of different widths and tried making tent pegs, splitting small diameter branches and general whittling. So far, so good. It takes a good edge (not as sharp as my straight razor) and will cut through a sheet of paper like butter (not that you would be doing this often in the woods, but its a popular sharpness test).

Wetterlings 19" Bushcraft Axe
Wow, my first real axe. It makes my cheapo $15 hardware store axe feel like a cheap $15 hardware store axe. Truth be told, at 19" it is a little long and I should have ordered the 15" one instead. Not so much for weight, but for packability. Strapped down to the D-rings on my Carradice the axe pokes out a fair bit. I'll have to figure out how to pack it or shorten the handle (what a shame). It's a Wetterlings, not quite as nice as the axe Riv. use to sell but of similar build just without the fine touches. I haven't really gotten to use this yet, but I'm hoping to practice splitting some wood this weekend.


bterzini said...

I find the rough finish of the axe more appealing- it speaks to the utilitarian function of the tool. A super high finish on a forged item like an axe just doesn't seem to fit. Of course, I work for an artist/blacksmith- we routinely leave hammer marks in items as an aesthetic detail.

Jack and Raquel said...

I've been looking at the ittle fire starter too. I use a homemade Pepsi can alcohol stove and I think it would work well for getting it lt.

Thanks, Jack

RussRoca said...

bterzini....the finish IS nice! I don't use axes very often (more like hardly ever in Los Angeles), but it's nice build is immediately recognizable.

JnR...the fire starter is great and it's actually perfect for lighting an alcohol stove...small, light, works when wet, etc., there's also a nice gratifying feeling from lighting a fire without matches or a lighter!

Chuck said...

Just wanted to thank you for finding Ben's Backwoods and passing along the link and the reviews. My mailman just delivered a package with a Mora #2, a couple of Opinels and an axe. I'm a happy camper!

RussRoca said... problem....Ben has some great stuff for great prices on his site!