Up at the Lobsters and Lighthouses Hammock Hang…

48 hours and the only photo I took was just this one shot of my feetz…

I’m always up around 5:30 AM or 6 AM. Nobody else around. This was after I had just enough time to drag my camp chair back down to the fire ring, make a cup of coffee, and toss a few logs on the coals from the night before.

This is Maine. This is “The way life supposed to be”.

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It’s That Time of Year…

It has been 66 years since the badly burned bear cub who became the representation of Smokey was rescued from a New Mexico forest fire that burned 17,000 acres of the Lincoln National Forest in the Capitan Mountains, and the USFS just celebrated 75 years of using the “Smokey the Bear” character to publicize the importance of fire safety.

It has been nearly thirty years since the fire in Yellowstone NPS. The scars are still easily seen on a drive-thru tour by car.

Do your part… Be Fire Smart!

Some Smalls…

Pretty self explanatory.

Got some nice little BIC™ sized lighters, but with long necks that make fire or stove starting much, much easier. Way easier to carry along, too.

Bright colors in case I drop ’em. I’ve got an orange one down in my cook kit already.

I have been using the black one for a couple of months now. It rides around in the pocket of my greatcoat for lighting my pipe, and it shows no sign yet of running out of gaz. From the makers of everyone’s favorite muck-about camp shoes… Crocks™.  I’ll probably grab another couple of bright colored ones in case they disappear.

Buck apiece down at the Dollar Tree.

 

You Get What You Pay For…

Another purchase from the strange Hong Kong jobbers 11-11 sale was these three small “neck knives”.

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They are badly executed copies of the fairly classic C.R.K.T/Doug Ritter Mk5. They sacrifice the Ritter’s Kydex sheath for one of a reasonably decent leather, and claim to be 420-C steel, but they really don’t measure up. On one of the units they had failed to even bother feeding the lanyard cord through the eye on the handle. It may not even be fair to call these Mil-Tec knives copies. They make no representation, other than visually, to be a Mk5. And there are certainly omissions. Notably in the lack of the jimping [those little slits for grip] on the spine and finger choil, and the missing blade holes for lashing to a pole.

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Side-by-side with my several year-old original/genuine knife, you can see some of the differences right off. The biggest being that the Mil-Tec ones are severely ground in a “sabre”cut [the blade thickness is reduced toward the edge by grinding the flat down before adding an even steeper angle to be finished for sharpness]. The Ritter is fully flat, tapering smoothly from the spine down to the edge-grind. The Chinese units are abysmally dull. The sabre-cut is not even taken down far enough to overcome the overall thickness of the knife blank. The edge cut ends up being far too steep to give a decent cutting edge without refinishing. You can see the difference in the blank thickness in the first photo below. The Ritter starts out with a thinner blank at the spine, and the finished knife is also longer and much more evenly tapered than the Mil-Tec version. Then, in the second shot, you a can see that the sabre-cut portion of the Chinese blades even retains the rotational curves of the grinding machine. Where on the Ritter you can barely make out the edge-grind at all, on the Chinese version it is quite obvious.

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HOWEVER… [you were expecting a however, weren’t you?]   It is exactly that extra blade thickness that will give these knives their redeeming point.

I have never seen the point to wearing a “neck-knife” that dangles with the handle pointing down… they seem to invite loss in a messy situation. My intention instead is to include these clones in Altoid can sized emergency kits. If you have read the posts previously on here about survival/emergency kits you will understand that I always include a mini-multitool of the Leatherman Micra/Gerber Dime variety in the ones I make up for myself or for friends. These minis already have a good blade for cutting, along with the other tools. I want the “Mk5’s” for their usefulness in batoning [splitting] small-wood for fires. Their edges can easily be sharpened up to that point, and that extreme blade thickness makes them sturdy enough to stand up to the pounding. I was looking for a tool… not any refinement.

I think that getting a fire together can be the single most important part of an emergency situation. Getting some wood larger than twigs is vital to an efficient fire. The wood inside is almost always drier that that outside… hence quicker to get burning. Those little multitools are great. You can easily run up a feather-stick to catch fire, but I like the idea of something small but sturdy to get some bulk on there as well.

The final “however” here is that the sale price of all three Chinese knives was less than a SuperMochaFrappucinnoHalfCafHalfDecaf at your local coffee house… $5.64US. At that price they are just fine. You get what you pay for.

Playing With Fire- “all natural” Flaming Dragon Turds

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My buddy, Ed, and I have been upptacamp a couple times recently to build a deck.  Part of the process was taking down several large pine trees that were going to be in the way of the deck and the view. We took them down three weeks ago on the first visit. When we were up again last week, I realized that one of them had “sweated” a large amount of sap out of the stump.

Pine sap is one of my favorite tinders/kindlings, and, this being the Northwoods of Maine, there was plenty of loose, dry birchbark to be picked up easily. I scraped a bunch of the still liquid sap off and smeared it across the surface of some of the birchbark. I sprinkled it with some of the course sawdust from the chainsaw work, and pressed the two pieces together between a couple of cinderblocks for a few hours. The photo shows the result. I figure to thumbtack it to the railing outside for a few weeks to let it dry and set up completely, and then I should be able to cut it into pieces and add it in to my tinderboxes.

After I took the first photograph, I snipped off a chunk, and touched it off with a single match.IMG_0999

I got a burn time of about a minute and a half, and it left an “ooze” of unburned sap on the slate that would’ve soaked in if there was other tinder. It also burned so hot that it popped a flake of slate off the underside.

I think I have another keeper.

Yard Fire…

IMG_0749 I am really happy with the whole kit I have put together over the last year for fire-making, so, tonight I put aside the ax and hatchet that usually get used out at the firepit in the yard and pulled out the pack stuff to have a go at a “backwoods” sized campfire.

You have seen the Kershaw “Camp Knife” [10″] and the Buck #692 in posts last year >>hit up the tags-list on the right for “Knives”>>>.

I recently picked up a Bahco “Laplander” saw [buy on Amazon] for chunking out lengths for splitting… works a charm. A 2-3″ limb cuts in less than 20 seconds with little effort.

The orange pieces are Chi-clones of an “ExoTac” nanoSTRIKER and their match-safe… and I love the burnt orange anodization for finding them in dim light. At under $10 the pair, instead of the ExoTac site prices of $27 and $24, I think I scored OK on the 90/50 criterion I try to go by [90% utility for 50% >or less< of the price is a GREAT deal]