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.asbellwool.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.”

zipper_timber_ghost    IMG_0336

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.

5.11 Tactical Pants

I recently bought two pairs of 5.11 Taclite Pro Pants and so far I like them, for the most part. I bought these pants because I wanted a pair of pants that could be worn in an office environment but could also be used to hike, fish, hunt and camp in. For me, pants must have plenty of pockets and these sure do.  I never really cared for slant pockets with Velcro closures for back pockets but this is personal taste. Also the cell phone pocket is too small for most cell phones today but it works great for multi-tools, which is what I use mine for. One other issue I have with them is the low cut or baggy seat. I would much prefer a regular fit in the seat of the pants. Every time you go to sit down or squat down you have to pull up on the pants. It sort of becomes annoying.

I do like the look of them and they are great for office wear. I also love the versatility of these pants. The pants seem to be made very well and hold up to wear and tear quite well. I also like that these pants are only 35% cotton and 65% polyester. Most of the other tactical pants that I am aware of are either 100% rip stop cotton or only a 50/50 blend. These pants are also treated to resist stains, which is a big plus. Here is 5.11’s website info for these pants

Purpose Built

Modeled after our legendary Tactical Pant, the Taclite™ Pro Pant offers all the quality and utility you expect from premium 5.11 apparel. Like our Taclite TDU ripstop tactical pants, the Taclite Pro Pant is crafted from authentic Taclite poly/cotton ripstop fabric for outstanding comfort and performance in hot or humid climates, and features triple stitch reinforcements and extensive bartacking for maximum durability. An action waistband and full gusseted crotch provide complete freedom of movement, while a Teflon® fabric treatment protects against stains, spills, and soil. A double thick seat and knees enhance protection and resilience, the seven pocket configuration includes our signature strap and slash rear pockets, and an integrated D-ring at the hip holds your keys or ID. When you need full featured ripstop cargo pants that won’t slow you down, 5.11 Taclite Pro Pants are the ideal choice.

Overview:

  • Lightweight, breathable, comfortable
  • Ideal for hunting, hiking, and outdoor activities
  • Seven pocket configuration
  • Signature 5.11 strap and slash rear pockets
  • Teflon treatment for stain, soil, and spill resistance
  • Action waistband
  • Full gusseted crotch
  • Hip-mounted D-ring holds keys or ID

Specifications:

  • 6.14 oz. Taclite poly/cotton ripstop fabric
  • 48 individual bartacks in high stress areas
  • Double thick seat and knees (kneepad ready)
  • Triple-stitch reinforcement
  • Draw cord openings at bottom hem
  • YKK® zippers
  • Prym® snaps

I do like these pants a lot and can overlook the cons I mentioned above. If you are looking for good quality tactical pants that can also be worn in an office environment, these would be great and I do recommend them. I will also be ordering some of their Ripstop TDU Pants soon. I like that these ones have normal back pockets and the seat cut looks a little better. I will let you know what I think about them. Any of 5.11’s pants would be perfect to wear all day at the office (obviously not the camo unless you are in the military) and then be able to head straight out into the wilderness without needing to change. That’s a priceless quality in my mind. The only thing I wish 5.11 would do differently is to make the ripstop TDU pants with the extra front pockets that are on the Taclite Pro Pants and use snaps or buttons instead of Velcro for the cargo pockets and back pockets. A guy can dream can’t he? If you are in the market for some good quality tactical pants then I recommend that you go checkout 5.11’s website. There are lots of good reviews for all of their products right on their website. Do you own any 5.11 clothing or gear and what are the pros and cons of that clothing and or gear? Again, I like the versatility and quality of the 5.11 Taclite Pro Pants and I look forward to testing out some of their other tactical pants.

Ultimate Survival Kit

I don’t want to state that this is a review of the Ultimate Survival Kit simply because I designed it and would of course be biased in the reviewing of it. So think of this as more of an informational piece letting you know that this kit exists.

A few years ago I set out to try to buy a survival kit that had everything I needed it to have, was compact and light, not half full of useless junk and had good quality items in it. What I found in searching around online and at local stores was that either survival kits were incomplete, half full of useless junk that I wouldn’t trust with my life (to keep the price down) or highly overpriced for an incomplete kit. Because of this, I decided to put my own kit together that incorporated products that were the best on the market, a kit that is very versatile, reasonably priced and full of things I would trust with my life. So the Ultimate Kit was born.

The first thing I decided right away was that I wanted everything to fit inside an Otterbox. These cases are awesome and help make the kit very versatile. They float, are water proof and are crush proof. What better case to use for a survival kit that you need to trust with your life! Next, I decided that I wanted a couple of options for starting fires as well as some tinder, a signaling device, an emergency blanket, a good quality pocket knife, an emergency fishing kit, a compass, a small saw, a light, an emergency whistle and some way of filtering or purifying water.

So I sat down and scoured the internet, read a lot of reviews, tested different items out and tried to design the kit so that it would fit in the smallest Otterbox that I could. What I came up with, and sell on my website is the very same kit that I now carry with me when I head out into the wilderness. Whether I am kayaking, backpacking, camping, hunting or anything else outdoors I always carry this survival kit with me. I also have one of these kits in my emergency bag/bug out bag. You can’t beat its quality and strength for a small survival kit. Here is the info I have on my website pertaining to the Ultimate Survival Kit:

“Our Ultimate Survival Kit is the perfect kit to carry with you on any outdoor adventure! It only weighs in at 1.5 pounds! It was designed to be as compact as possible, yet be able to float, be strong and contain most of what you would need in a survival situation. We feel we’ve accomplished this!

This Survival Kit contains: an orange emergency blanket, a StarFlash mirror, a Pocket Chainsaw, a “pico” style light, 12 Industrial Revolution Stormproof Matches, a 4seasons Spark Lite with 10 Tinder-Quik fire starters, a Jetscream whistle, one of our Survival Pods (20feet of 20lb test fishing line, 2 hooks, 2 swivels and 2 weights), a pin on compass, a Gerber mini paraframe pocket knife, a Frontier Filter (water filter straw) and its all contained in an Otterbox 3000. There’s even room to fit your favorite bag of tea and a small piece of hard candy or stick of gum. You can take it camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting as well as any other outdoor activity where you would find it useful and may need a tough survival kit handy. This is the same kit we here at Armstrong Survival Gear trust our lives with when we go on an outdoor adventure, shouldn’t you?”

Again my goal was to create a good quality survival kit that did not incorporate any junk products just to keep the price down. I think quality and usability matters more. This kit is designed as a survival kit not a first aid kit. You can fit some band aids as well as antiseptic wipes inside the case for minor injuries if you would like. What kind of basic survival kit do you carry and use? Have you tested the contents of your survival kit? No matter what survival kit you carry, whether bought premade or put together yourself, make sure to test all of the contents to make sure you are familiar with how they work, they work like you expect them to and that nothing is defective.

Extra Tip: I wrap 550 para cord around my kit so that I always have good quality cordage with my survival kit.