Camping With My Dad

A few weeks ago I went on an overnighter with my dad. We both had new Deepwoods Rucks from The Hidden Woodsman that we wanted to test out and it had been many years since my dad has been able to get out and camp. He had gotten seriously hurt on a construction site when I was younger and it really took a toll on his body, which meant backpacking and camping and any of the outdoors stuff he loved doing were out of the question for a long time. It’s only been in recent years that hes been able to slowly try to get back into some of the outdoor activities that he loves. Since other plans I had that weekend fell through and instead of doing some side work, I texted him and said lets get out for an overnighter and cook some steaks over the fire. He replied with YES! LETS GO! So the planning ensued.

I knew the night time temps would be in the low 30’s with windchill around the low 20’s and since it was his first time back out in the woods in years, I decided to go to one of my favorite spots to camp that was maybe a 20-30 minute hike in so my truck would be close in case we needed any extra supplies for warmth. I gave him my 0 degree Hammock Gear over quilt to use and I used my 20 degree over quilt. We used foam pads with  Klymit insulated static V blow up pads over top so that based on the R-value I new we’d be good down to 0 degrees and we’d be comfortable since we both have back issues. I set up my Warbonnet Outdoors Superfly tarp since it has “doors” and I knew it was going to be very windy. We used reusable heavy weight emergency blankets as our ground sheets.

We camped near a large pond with a great view. It rained a bit after we got camp set up and stopped just as we started to cook our steaks over the fire. The steaks (Venison backstraps cut into steaks) and potatoes came out perfect and tasted amazing after being cooked over the fire. We enjoyed some time around the fire and headed to bed. We slept pretty decent all night. The wind gusts got going pretty high which concerned us because the trees creaked like crazy all night and we could hear some trees and limbs falling in the distance. The wind was constantly changing direction all night. Otherwise it was a pretty good night. We both got up around 4 am to go to the bathroom and I loaded up the makeshift fire pit with wood so that we’d have coals to get a fire going later that morning. After I got the fire going again and warmed my hands up, I headed back to bed for a few hours.

I think we ended up getting up around 8-8:30 am. There was a little bit of snow on the ground, on our tarp and on our packs that were hung on the trees. The low that night was 32 degrees with a windchill of 18 degrees. It was so windy when we got up that we both decided we’d just pack up and have breakfast when we got home instead of getting a fire going and trying to cook over it in the wind. Plus I didn’t want to have to worry about the fire being reignited after we left because of the high winds.

We enjoyed our hike out and had a great time. It was nice seeing my dad be able to camp again and enjoy the things he use to be able to. We had a fun successful trip. We ate great food, had a great time and slept pretty well. We only needed our rain gear for a few hours the night before. We both love our new packs. My dad will eventually upgrade his pack frame to the same one that I have because mine has much more padding and is very comfortable. My dad’s already looking forward to our next trip, and to me that always means your trip was successful when anyone you took out enjoys themselves so much that they look forward to the next trip.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the attached photos of our trip. What extra little things do you do to ensure you have a great trip? Heres a link to the video of our trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rbbY5vnuW0

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Quick Tip #20

If you’re tired of getting smoke in your face and wasting your breath get yourself a V3-pocket bellows. They are awesome! It will help direct your air exactly where you want it to go and you can get a longer sustained blow. Instead of having only a little of your breath of air actually reach the dying fire you can now have all of it reach the base of the fire with no smoke in the face or burnt eye brows.

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Cooking over a fire with my Bushcraft grill

The more time you spend cooking over an open fire the better you’ll become and be able to fine tune your cooking skills. I’ve learned over the years that cooking over hot coals is not only a better way to cook or heat up liquids, but it also saves on equipment wear and tear and saves you from having to eat a burnt meal. This also makes cleanup much easier.

I start out by getting a good rip-roaring fire going and once I have larger logs on, which give me larger lasting coals, I let the fire die down a bit. I congregate a bunch of coals so that they will allow my grill to lay over top and allow for even cooking. I keep the fire going much smaller off to the side so that once all of my cooking is done I’m able to get a larger fire going again much more easily. This also allows me to get more coals for cooking if needed.

Cooking on the grill over the coals is so much nicer. Once the meat or vegetables are fully cooked I just lift the grill off the coals with my Hidden Woodsman meat fork and lay it on some level rocks to cool. I do any cutting right on the grill and eat right off of the grill as well. No extra dishes to clean. Once everything is gone I just hold the grill over the flames to burn off anything left. Then I lay it off to the side again to cool. Once cooled, I put the grill in the pouch it came with and throw it in my backpack. You can’t ask for an easier cleanup than that. So far I have nothing bad to say about this grill and absolutely love cooking on it.

Cooking a perfect meal in the wild, over a fire you made yourself, is so satisfying and energizing. If I’m camping in or backing through an area that allows fires I always prefer to cook this way instead of using any modern portable cook stoves. I guess it just helps me to feel more connected to the land and my primal self. What’s your favorite way to cook when you’re in the wild? What cooking tips do you have that you’d like to share? I hope this helps energize others to get out into the wild and cook a meal over a nice hot bed of coals.

 

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Gear I’ve Recently Acquired

I’ve recently acquired three pieces of gear that I’m excited about using and testing. The first one is a Casstrom Knives Lars Falt Bushcraft knife. I can’t speak to its durability over time but out of the box this knife is a beauty. I love the curly birch handle and the knife comes razor sharp out of the box. The knife also comes with a nice simple leather sheath. I also ordered a dangler to add to it because I just prefer my knives to be on a dangler for ease of movement. I’m really looking forward to testing this knife out over the next year and then I’ll post an update of how it holds up to use over the long hall. Based on my first impressions I don’t anticipate any issues with this knife.

 

Lars Falt Bushcraft Knife

 

The second item I recently received is a Bushcraft Essentials Bush Box LF stove kit (stainless steel version). I ordered the kit instead of just the stove because I wanted the grate for the top to be able to cook meat or other things right on it without needing a pot or pan. Because of what it is, it’s a bit heavy, but I expected that. It’s really well made and I anticipate it holding up to years of use. The stove also comes with its own pouch which makes storing it in your pack nicer and cleaner. I do still use an alcohol stove and a butane stove as well depending on the type of trip so it’s not like this will be used as my only stove, but who knows, it’s possible I may like this stove enough to stop using my other cooking methods. Only time will tell. This is my first venture into twig stoves so we’ll see how it goes. Most places I hike and camp have plenty of branches laying around so I like the idea of not having to carry all of my fuel.

Bushbox LFStove Kit

 

The third item is an Expedition Research Bushcraft Grill (regular size not mini). My preferred way of cooking is right over an open fire but I’ve tried other small campfire grates and they’ve always failed because they lacked the grid pattern that this grill does have. There’s not much to say other than I’m looking forward to testing this grill out and will probably christen it with some bacon (one of the things the other grills failed to handle as bacon shrinks as its cooking and would fall through the cracks). It does come with a lightweight pouch so that you can easily store it in your pack without getting other things dirty.

Bushcraft grill bushcraft grill 2

All in all these are three pieces of gear I’m really excited to get in the woods and test out. Hopefully after the holidays are over and with hunting season nearing its end soon here in New York, I’ll have a chance to get out and give these new pieces of gear a try. What new pieces of gear did you acquire that you’re excited to use? Have fun in the wilderness and take time to just “be” and enjoy it.

Inexpensive Quality Knives

You don’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent bushcraft or survival knife. Now I do agree in most cases that you get what you pay for but there are some exceptions to the rule. I own some expensive knives but this year I have mostly just carried my Mora companion, with attached fire kit, and an Esee Avispa folder. Both of which are fairly inexpensive, not overly heavy but are very well made knives. I also usually take a small hatchet for cutting up firewood so I’m not using my knife to baton wood (I just prefer to save my knives from this abuse if I can).

Mora makes great quality products that can take abuse but at an expense that you wont mind if you loose or damage it. I have added a fire kit to the outside of mine. The fire kit consists of a ferocerium rod, 1 piece of quik tinder (burns for 2 minutes) and is attacked with a 1 1/2″ ranger band. The Mora knife I carry is made of high carbon steel. This is a great quality for bushcraft or survival but also means the knife blade needs more care and cleaning. It is highly worth it in my mind.

The Esee Avispa is a great addition to the Mora. I carry a pocket knife on me daily because I find I use it and need it a lot. So it’s only natural for me to be carrying a folder. The blade on the Avispa is made of Aus-8 stainless steel. I like to have a stainless steel folding knife as a companion to any high carbon steel fixed blade I would be carrying because it saves me from pulling out my fixed blade knife every time I need to cut something and the stainless blade needs less care and upkeep than the high carbon steel blade needs. Also I like the fact that if I loose one knife I’ll still have one available to me instead of loosing my only knife and having nothing else to use.

These two knives together weigh less than one more expensive bushcraft or survival knife by themselves. For about $50-$70 you could have a great set up for your wilderness adventures. Before anyone complains, what about this knife or that knife, I know there are many great and expensive bushcraft and survival knives out there as well as better folders but these just happen to be what I’m carrying a lot these days and I think this is a great setup for those that can’t afford much or don’t want to spend a lot on one or two knives. These are fairly inexpensive knives but are better quality than their price portrays.

I hope this was helpful to some and an encouragement that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear to go out and enjoy the wilderness. Feel free to let me know what your favorite knife or knives are to carry on your wilderness adventures. As always get out there and enjoy the wilderness and maybe even relax and unwind a bit.

G. Fred Asbell Wool Pullover Review

I’ll be honest I was looking at buying the wool boreal pullover that many of you may have seen reviewed on many YouTube videos, but I just didn’t have the money available to spend on it. The boreal pullover looks really nice and looks well made with options that are not on the pullover I purchased but it costs a whole lot more as well. The boreal pullover was well outside my budget.

As I was searching the internet for wool clothing I came across this website, http://www.gfredasbell.com I looked at the site and all that is available and narrowed down my choice to a wool pullover in the Timber Ghost color. I really wanted a pullover in the blanket weight but I also liked the Timber Ghost color for everyday use so the color choice won. Note each color comes in different weight wool. The Timber Ghost color comes in extra heavy weight wool (25-28oz).

The Weight Guide:
Light Weight——————9 – 10oz.
Light/Medium Weight—–13 – 16oz.
Medium Weight————-17 – 20oz.
Heavy Weight—————-21 – 24oz.
Extra Heavy Weight——– 25 – 28oz.
Blanket Weight—————29 – 32oz.

Manufacturers Info:

Wool Pullovers

“There’s nothing like wool in the woods, it’s whisper quiet and interacts with daylight and shadows like a natural camo. Our pullover shirts are the base layer of our unique wool layering system. They’re generously cut to hang loose and help break up your silhouette. Hand warming pockets are standard. There’s a hood option for those who like the idea of a little extra protection and comfort. Our hoods are oversized to accommodate hats of all sizes. Try one of our Asbell wool pullover shirts today, they’re the natural choice.
Our Wool Pullovers are available in:
Medium, Large, XLarge, and XXLarge please select your size below. Also available with or without hood.”

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I decided to get a pullover without a zipper because in my mind that’s a stress point on the wool, the zipper will inevitably have problems, and I didn’t want anything that could reflect light or make noise well hunting. I wanted a simple pullover with little chance of failure. After deciding what I wanted I purchased one in December as well as an Olive Drab bandana. I ordered the bandana so that I could use it around my neck since the pullover hood does not cinch closed. Everything on their website is handmade by them so expect to have a little wait time. I received my order as expected with the expected amount of wait time. No complaints.

First off I will say that these are very well made and are exactly what you expect you are purchasing. The bandana is much bigger than I was expecting, which is a good thing in my mind. The pullover is perfect for what it is. No frills, but functions very well. The pockets are generously sized and the hood works very well, well wearing a hat underneath it. I ordered a large but could have ordered a medium because they are oversized on purpose. The larger size grew on me because I can easily fit it over other clothing and it still hangs loosely. Also by having the larger size I can sleep comfortably in it well in the woods by pulling the sleeves down over my hands easily and the hood covers most of my face when I’m lying on my back or side without a hat on. The pullover really does function very well. I wore my pullover all winter as we had a colder than usual winter this year in New York. It made this winter much more bearable. If you know anything about wool you know that wind does blow right through it so you would need a wind breaker shell of some sort on cold windy days. I wore my wool pullover in conjunction with my light mountain hardware winter jacket. With these two coats and only a tee shirt underneath I would stand out in -15 – -30 degree temperatures with winds blowing over 30 mph and be toasty warm. It was amazing. Trying to do much physical activity and I would get to warm. Whenever it wasn’t windy I would just wear the pullover.

This wool pullover was in my budget and functions very well. The only few things I would have liked that the much more expensive boreal shirt has is the neck gusset, a cinch cord for the hood and a cinch cord for the waist. Those things would be nice but I can live without them with the difference in price. This is a great wool pullover that should last you a very long time, and if well taken care of, you could pass on to the next generation. If you’re looking for a wool pullover or jacket I recommend checking out G. Fred Asbell’s website before you make any purchases. I am really glad I found this site and purchased the pullover I did. It works very well for spring, fall, winter, hunting, camping and any other outdoor activity where you want to stay toasty warm. As a plus, wool pullovers won’t burn and melt like synthetic materials will. As always get out and enjoy nature and maybe do it well being a little warmer.

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything from G. Fred Asbell or anybody involved with his site to do this review. I paid full price for what I received. I did this review because I really like the products I received and think others would as well.

Survival Bracelets

With all the popularity over “survival bracelets” the past couple years, I wanted to draw your attention to some survival bracelets that are made of much more than just cordage. Each bracelet is built and hand tied by us here at Armstrong Survival Gear LLC (family owned and operated). All of our cord is American made and weight tested. We try to put only quality parts into our products and we make changes periodically to better our products not to cut costs at the expense of customers.

Each of these bracelets was designed by me to help cover different needs that people would have based on their survival situation and level of expertise. Some people desire to carry and rely on as little gear as possible and others want to carry and rely on as much gear as possible. So I designed different bracelets for each of these types of people. From our base model the Fire Bracelet, which is very basic, to our Explorer Bracelet which has everything you could want in a survival kit you can wear on your wrist.

We have four models of survival bracelets. They are the Fire Bracelet, the Beaver Bracelet, the Minimalist Bracelet and the Explorer Bracelet. Each model contains different products that will help aid you if you ever find yourself in a survival situation. Here is information as well as specs for each model of bracelet.

 

Fire Bracelet

You’ll have everything you need to get a fire started; fire steel, a striker, tinder and paracord for making a bow drill. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• 2’ Jute
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Beaver Bracelet

This bracelet will give you the help you need to build a shelter or to start a fire. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• Wire Saw
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Minimalist Bracelet

Here is a simple bracelet to take care of some basic needs of survival, from starting a fire to being able to fish for some food. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• 30’ 50lb braided fishing line (won’t be a tangled mess)
• 2 #8 hooks
• 2 weights
• 2 swivels
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Explorer Bracelet

Explore the great outdoors with peace, knowing you have the very best survival bracelet available. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• 2’ Jute Twine
• 18” Snare Wire
• Wire Saw
• 30’ 50lb braided fishing line (won’t be a tangled mess)
• 2 #8 hooks
• 2 weights
• 2 swivels
• 18” 45lb lead
• Dry Fly
• Bobber
• 2 safety pins
*optional quick tinder with ranger band
Here is the link if you would like to check out any of our bracelets: http://armstrongsurvivalgear.com/category/survival-bracelets/

 
My goal in creating these survival bracelets was to better something that many people were already wearing anyways. Why not better your chance of survival by wearing a bracelet that contains many aids for survival instead of one that only carries cordage? I like all my gear to be as versatile and multi functional as possible, thus the reason I designed these bracelets. These bracelets can be worn daily, thrown in an emergency bag, clipped to your backpack or clipped to your belt loop for easy access. If you are an avid outdoorsman, outdoors women or are just preparing for a possible emergency, these survival bracelets may be of interest to you. Do you wear a 550 para cord bracelet already? What limitations or capabilities does your current bracelet have?

One side note:

Our bracelets do not carry anything for water purification other than purifying water over the fire that these bracelets can help you start. I was going to include water purification tabs when I first designed these survival bracelets but the purification tabs do expire and I didn’t want people to rely on something that may not be any good when they need it most. What I would recommend doing if you order one of our bracelets is to get some Aquamira purification tabs and slip one or two tabs in their packaging underneath one of the ranger bands. This way you will have easy access to the tablets and you can change them out periodically as they expire.