Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hey all,


I'm getting out and about again and should have more content to add here soon. Been working on some kits and gear and should have more reviews and some load outs to show soon. There will be more from the Chow Hall, too, as I experiment with some new diabetic friendly bushcraft meals.


One trip/hike is in the works. I plan to start hiking some sections of the North Country Scenic Trail. Check it out, it is a National trail, Similar to the great Appalachian Trail. This one runs from North Dakota all the way to New York. Fortunately for me it passes about 20 minutes north of my family cabin. I got a couple of maps from the trail association and I found several really good day hikes and possible overnighters.


Keep watching!


JO!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Hey all, back again with another review. This time it’s for my Eureka ICS 2000 Improved Combat Shelter one man tent. NSN 8340-01-535-0134 (woodland).  I picked mine up on ebay this past winter. My plan for its use is to take with me on solo overnighters, canoeing or longer solo trips.  In the past I have been basically a “tarp tent” camper. Basically I used a GI poncho stretched out as a cover and lay under it with my gear. In the military we call this a "hooch". It worked for me all during my Military career and so I took the skill with me. What this tent gives me is the portability of a tarp set up with the option of element protection that comes from a full tent/rain fly combo, a well as a bonus I will get in to at the end.

Here is what you get in the set: You get the ICS 2000 one person tent, a rainfly big enough to give room for gear, 3 collapsable aluminum poles, aluminum tent stakes, a ground cloth and a repair kit. This all fits in one stuff sack, with the repair kit, poles, and stakes each contained in their own stuff sacks. The stuff sacks (4), tent, fly and ground cloth are all made from thick nylon.

The facts:

Tent: 2lbs 9.9oz, fly 2lbs 9.1oz, frame 1lb 2.5oz, total weight 6lbs 6.7oz.  Total square feet is 27 feet. Floor measures 100" x 40".

 


The thick nylon is labeled 70D, 90P, polyurethane coated ripstop nylon. It’s thick durable stuff and should hold up to normal wear for a good long time. Remember these were designed for the military so they have to be tough. The inner side of the fly and the "front door" side of the tent are coated in a black out material that helps keep the tent dark enough to sleep in even during the day. Plenty of ventilation is provided by lots of no see um mesh. You can see in the pics my 3 hooligans looking out the side of the tent behind a layer of the mesh. There are also mesh panels on the roof of the tent as well, which should help minimize condensation under the fly. The height of the tent is 32.5” +/- 1 inch, the peak being right in the middle of the structure. Windows and entry points on both sides of the tent body and a bath tub style floor.

Thanks to clip hooks the cross pole set up is fast and easy. You can see them a little bit in the bottom 2 pictures.

 
pic above is the "back door"


 

Now for the bonus…I can still tarp tent it if I choose! Nothing beats the ventilation and closeness to nature you feel under a tarp set up except sleeping right out under the stars. By using the ground cloth and the rainfly and tent poles I can bring about half the set out and have a very light weight shelter to set up quickly and spend the night. Adding the tent stakes will make it very stable and free standing. In the picture below I think I didn’t quite have the poles set right but you can get the idea of what it would look like.
rain fly and ground cloth set up as a "hooch"


You can see how small it packs down to. I used the same 32oz. Nalgene I have used in other reviews to show scale. I also have added my Platypus gravity water filter in the pics to add further size comparison. It looks kind of big but it really isn't. I can get it and my summer MSS sleeping bag in an MSS carrier easily.
 
Hope you enjoyed this review, as always comments welcome!
 

Monday, May 6, 2013


Hey all, back again with another product review. This time it is for a Stanley Adventure Series Camp Cook & Cup Set. This set has a Stainless steel, 24 oz. pot and 2- 10oz insulated plastic cups that nest inside the pot.


 

The pot has gradations stamped on the sides (see pic above) that can be read from inside or out, in both ounces and milliliters. The lid, which fits tightly on top of the pot, has some holes punched into it to let steam escape and to use as a strainer if needed. Also on the lid is a plastic handle, which I have learned from others on forums tends to melt right away if the pot is used over an open flame. Stanley does not recommend using this pot over open flames so care must be taken if that is the intent. With the lid in place the handle of the pot will clamp down over top and hold everything securely.
The pot is single walled stainless steel and the cups are thick, BPA free, plastic. 



When nested, you can use the top cup to store your brew kit and creamer and sweeteners of choice. Really, anything you can fit into a 10 ounce space will fit perfectly.
The handle folds out, away from the pot, and clicks into a locked position. There is a sliding lock mechanism on the handle that will keep you from inadvertently unlocking the handle and having it fold up on you during use. To unlock the handle you squeeze the two sides until you feel it unlock, then it can be folded for storage.

 

The diameter of the pot is almost identical to that of a standard 32 oz. plastic Nalgene bottle, so any pouch that holds one should also be the right size for the Stanley pot. It won’t nest on the bottom of a Nalgene, which is a bit of a negative. Mainly because you will need to have a dedicated pouch or carry system for your Stanley kit. You can see in the bottom picture below how much space is left in the Condor water bottle pouch for extra cook set kit.
 

 

The set up with cups included is very light. The shipping weight given for it by Amazon is 12ounces. I do not have small enough scale to give my own measurement but to me the weight is negligible. Readers of the blog here know I have a Crusader canteen cup and cook set, standard NATO issue, and the Stanley is noticeably lighter than the Crusader. For 1 or 2 people on a day trip or even an over nighter this pot should work just fine for standard boiling. I think this pot paired with a GI mess kit would work fine for me as a simple, light weight cook set and I probably wouldn’t need anything more.
Performance: I got a boil out of the pot on my electric stove in about 8 and a half minutes, poured the boiling water right into the plastic mug for some of my favorite Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea. The cup warmed up but not quite to an uncomfortable level wearing a glove would have negated any feeling at all. The pot handles were pretty warm; I would probably use a bandana or shemagh in the field to grab it with.



So, with that I will conclude that this is a solid piece of gear that will perform very well as long as you use it as intended. Follow the Stanley directions and top rack it if you are using your dishwasher to clean the pot or mugs. Try to keep it out of direct flame and it should work just fine for years to come.
Thanks for looking, leave a little feedback, good bad or whatever, if you took the time to give this post a read.
Get out and have fun,

Jason O

The North Woodsman

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pocket knives

Throughout my life, from the age of 7 I have nearly always had some kind of pocket knife on my person. Sadly until I became an adult I didn't think much of what I carrried, didn't take care of them, lent them out only to have them stolen, mistreated them and plain did stupid things with them.

In my career in the Active Duty Army I lent out a Spyderco Endura to my barracks neighbor who was also my squad leader. He returned it the next day and the blade was ruined. I don't know what he was doing but it involved trying to pry on something in the outlet or the light switch in his room and the blade was litterally melted looking. That was the last straw for me and from that to now I have a very difficult time lending out a knife or multitool, especially when I am with my fellow soldiers who all are issued one now.

I cringe now thinking of all the times I have had this sort of conversation.
 "Let me see your knife."
"Why? Use your own."
"I don't have one, just let me see your for a minute."

Usually at this point I am done and tell them it's not happening and have to deal with some hurt feeling for a while but I keep my knife so I am ok with it.

So, in my 40 years of life I have carried quite a few models and types in my pocket. Tactical types, Buck types, you name it. I now have it down to just a few styles depending on my activity.

Right now I am down to really just 2 that see most use. I laugh to myself because I think of them as my "In town" knife and my "outdoors" knife, but honestly, as you will see they arent very different.



And here they are, 2 Alox scaled Victorinox Swiss Army knives.  one is the Bushcrafter model and the other is the Farmer. Which is funny because I use the Farmer when I am bush crafting and the Bushcrafter is in my pocket when I am just hanging around the big city.

So, lets look at them. Both have a good main blade, not too thick or too long, easy to sharpen and holds an edge well.

Both have the well know Swiss Army Knife saw blade. Anyone who has used one knows how well this blade goes through wood. It is a great design and works wonders.

The last similar tool is the bottle opener. It is what it is and does what it's supposed to so.
I find that these threetools are all I need on a day to day basis for my city life.

The Farmer includes a can opener, which works well enough but expect to have to do a bit of work with it. And finally an awl which is found on many SAKs but not in this exact location. It is the location,being on the end of the knife instead of in the middle back as it is usually found on SAKs that is what sets this apart.  Many bushcrafters have found that the awl, in this location on the Farmer, makes it ideally suited to act as a ferro rod striker/scraper. It's one of the reasons for this knife's popularity in the bushcraft community.

Betwen these knives, I have all the tools I have found that I need in the bush or in the city, at least on a regular basis. I do use and bring other tools (Fixed blade, hatchet, pruning saw) with me to the outdoors in addition to these but this is what is always in my pocket.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year in 2013! I hope the year finds you happy, healthy, and wise. I also wish for you to go out and enjoy the outdoors as often as you are able, and share it with someone new.

As for the North Woodsman, my goal is more of everything here. Including folks following along and joining in on the conversations.

Stay safe tonight!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

gear fiddlin'

Horace Kephart said it best, " To be sure even though a man rigs up his own outfit, he never gets it quite to suit him. Every season sees the downfall of some cherisshed scheme, the failure of some fond contrivance. Every winter sees you again fussing over your kit, altering this, substituting that, and flogging your wits with the same old problem of how to save weight and bulk without sacrifice of utility. All thoroughbred campers do this as regularly as the birds come back in the spring, and their kind has been doing it since the world began. It is good for us."

long story short, I am fiddling with my gear a lot right now. Anyone else?

From the Chow Hall

Hey all, this is just a quick little post that is food related and thus gets the Chow Hall title. On my Christmas shopping adventures I stopped for lunch at Panera Bread.  It's a chain restaraunt, not fast food but quick service. Obviously they make their own bread and pastries but they aslo serve sandwhiches and soups...not a bad place to stop actually but enough chit chat and on to how this applies to the North Woodsman!

We all know that sometimes out in the field when we are fixing chow we want to add some flavor. Handy portable options are always popular and this company has some condiments out that I really like and maybe you will enjoy as well.



Good quality mustard and mayonaise.

One of my favorite lunches to bring out on a day trip is summer sausage, bread,cheese and mustard. Usually I make a sandwhich out of it but sometimes I just dip the cheese or bread or eat right in the mustard and just eat. Carrying a jar of mustard can get pretty heavy and in some cases breakable. carrying a couple of these packets mkes it much easier to add some flavor or use to make some sandwhiches.

the only thing more perfect than these 2 packetsin my opinion are the tiny bottles of tabasco sauce.