Monday, October 20, 2014

Hey folks,

Well I finally scored at the local thrift stores after what feels like years of searching for outdoors gear. I saw the big pot with lid and bail on the shelf with a $5.99 price tag and was already happy with the find. I was completely surprised when I picked it up and it felt heavy.  I popped it open and, well you can see in the pictures what I found inside. I put a death grip on my find and headed right for the register, worried a little that they would tell me that it was priced wrong when I got to the check out.  It feels like the same metal military cook sets are made from, aluminum I'm guessing?  No stamps or other identifying marks anywhere on the set so if you have a clue about who or what the set is, please share.

On to the pictures!

The pot as I found it on the shelf. It's big, easily holds a gallon or more of liquid. On sight I thought if nothing else I could collect and boil water in it at a family or hunting campsite.

This is what I saw when I popped the lid!

All pulled out. all the pots and lids have a slot for the handle attachment and most of the pots have what I am calling bail nubs on them. Little protrusions that a wire bail can be attached to. 5  drinking cups, 1 collapsible cup, 5 - medium sized plates, 1 handle that fits all the pots and lids, the big pot and lid everything fits in, and 3 other pots and a lid. The numbers work out perfectly as I have the wife and I and three kids in the immediate family.

A previous owner even did a mod on this pot to add a pour spout.

A final shot of just the pots and lids.

From feedback on some forums these sets were made by various manufacturers. Some have mentioned that they are very similar to cook sets designed for boy/girl scouts. I'm still on the look out for good cast iron pieces but the Chow hall is that much closer to being fully set!

Thanks for looking, and thanks ahead of time if you have any info to share.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I just celebrated a birthday in late September and I decided to get myself a little gift. As I believe I have mentioned before I have a large quantity of Military Surplus gear, thanks to a long career in the Army. I've been trying to collect a few more...traditional...pieces of gear as of late.

 For over a year now I've had my eye on a little canvas and leather version of a dump pouch. A dump pouch is a piece of kit some soldiers and the like use to throw empty rifle magazines in to quickly collect them up. Often it is a collapsible pouch the folds up to a small size, easily kept out of the way of other gear. Well, I found a craftsman who makes a beautifully done leather and canvas version and ordered one.

John from Badger Claw Leatherworks makes many fine leather and waxed canvas goods and has built a solid reputation as a sheath maker for custom and production knives. John is a skilled craftsman whose talent with design and craftsmanship is evident with even just a casual look at the products on his sight,  The transaction between us went flawlessly on his part. I received my pouch about 3 days after he shipped it. Probably would have come sooner had I not delayed the process by not sending the correct payment on my first go.

The item I ordered was the Bushcrafter's Dump Pouch. It is a waxed leather and canvas collapsible pouch with stainless steel hardware. The pouch rides nicely on a belt and stays out of the way until needed. There is a decent sized fire steel loop an a nice steel D- ring for external attaching. Keep in mind anything attached to the ring will be obstructed by the full pouch when it is opened.

This photo shows me wearing the pouch just in front of my Turley Green River. You can see how compact it is and you can just make out the D-ring on the bottom right near my pocket.

In the top pic you can see the fire steel loop better. That steel was a last minute add for the photo, in real use I will have it tied off by a lanyard. The bottom picture shows it fully opened.  In actual use, I pushed the pouch around to the front of my belt more so it rested more on the front of my thigh.

I wore the pouch out on a quick little hike around the woods near the cabin. Figured if I was planning to use it as a foraging pouch I had better do some foraging. Found some thistle down still on the plant, a hand full of acorns but I could have had as many as I want, and some birch bark. 1 hand full of each barely started to take up much room in the pouch. It has plenty of size to hold tinder, foraged edibles, interesting rocks, etc...

This picture shows how the retaining strap snaps inside the pouch to help secure it...and another shot of my Turley Green River knife ;)

A better shot of the back of the pouch. That belt loop is very generous, I'm guessing a 2" belt would slide right in just fine. You can also see how that D-ring is covered when the pouch is opened.

I'm completely satisfied with my Bushcraft Dump Pouch from Badger Claw Leatherworks. If you are in the market for quality leather or canvas goods with a more traditional styling, you could do much worse than checking out John and his work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Camp News!

Hey all,

Quick update on whats happening here. Had a really Good Summer up at the cabin and I do have pics to post in the near future. I've located my camera's mini USB cord now so I can download again!

Had the kids with me up at the lake quite a bit. Lot's of firsts in fishing and the girls even learned to tool around in the kayaks a little bit.

Fishing was better than it has been in quite some time, even started to see some Northern Pike in the lake on a regualr basis. One particularly clever one set up under our dock most of the year living off the "dock Sunnies" that always hang out there.

It was fun to see my oldest girls reaction as she was reeling in a Sunny and that ol Pike took a shot at it. She almost threw her pole in the water!

I'm getting my youngest, the Lad out of the cabin and intothe woods/water more too. He'll come along just fine I'm sure. I've got another entry planned, "Herbology 100" on a few of the natural plant remedies a good friend of mine found when we took a wlak around the cabin and driveway.

And coming from the chow hall will be an entry on some wild raspberry/ Rhubarb jam I'll be cooking up soon!

Stay with me! But get out doors and take a friend!

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!


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.