Friday, June 7, 2013

Hey, I've Got You Covered! least your backcountry hatchet or 'hawk, that is! 

I know good work when I see it, and I appreciate all those who have carved out a niche with a little cottage business on the side.  Enter Adam Choate and his homemade Kydex sheaths for small hatchets and tomahawks.

I have two favorite edged tools for backcountry (read, backpacking) use.  One is my Gransfors-Bruks mini hatchet, a gift from my good friend, Pilgrim, a few years ago.  The second one is my self-customized Cold Steel Trail Hawk.  Both are worthy tools in deep wilderness, giving me a way to process stove wood for my Kifaru stoves or an outdoor campfire, pound tent pegs, and dismember elk, mule deer, pronghorns, or any other ungulate that I am fortunate enough to harvest.  One of the only beefs I had with Gransfors-Bruks was with the anemic leather sheath they put on the mini hatchets.  Cold Steel doesn't even provide one with the Trail Hawk, and given the bargain price of $35.00, I don't blame them.  However, I have always needed bombproof, weatherproof, and safe covers for my tools.  I dug deep with an Internet search, and through a long and winding road, found Adam on the Bushcraft USA forums

Adam does high quality work, has reasonable prices, and his service is second to none.  Like I said, I know good work when I see it, and Adam does good work!  He has several different colors of Kydex, and my choice was easy...coyote brown.  Adam likes bladed tools, and so he can accomodate various popular tools for molding.  It just so happens that he had both the tools I needed sheaths for, so I didn't have to send him my tools for molding.  You'll find that Adam's Kydex moldings fit your tools like a glove, and have excellent fit and finish.

What's this got to do with tenkara or lightweight backpacking?  Well, those trout have got to have a good fire for cooking.  You can set them over an open fire using Daniel Galhardo's kotsuzake method, but that will only last as long at it takes for the next summer thunderstorm to soak the fire.  In the event that happens, if you have a collapsable wood stove, you can move your fish cooking inside your shelter.  Either way, you will enjoy having a tool that will split up lots of stove or campfire wood in a hurry.  That's why I always carry one of my two bladed splitters.

Here's my Gransfors-Bruks Mini Hatchet with Adam Choate's coyote brown sheath.
My Cold Steel Trail Hawk with its own sheath.
The Gransfors-Bruks Mini Hatchet and the Cold Steel Trail Hawk together for size comparison.
If you'd like to contact Adam, you may email him at, or you can visit some of his postings on the Bushcraft USA forums...he goes by "stratocumulus".   Adam also frequents Bladeforums as "snakedoc".  Great work, Adam!  Stay tuned, I may have more Gransfors-Bruks tools in need of some Kydex!  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time Keeps On Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'...

It's been far too long since I've had the time or energy to write!  I've been caught up in the whirlwind of family and my "real" job.  Well, one of those (The Job) is coming to its annual two-and-a-half month hibernation, and it couldn't come soon enough! 

I've spent the past few days preparing for a summer's worth of work guiding tenkara trips for RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service, my second fledgling career, and my second season at RIGS.  There's much to do.  Gear to be packed, food to be dehydrated, last-minute household chores to complete, equipment to be mended, and new pieces of kit to eyeball for testing.

Ah, gear testing!  One of the little tasks that's always in the background.  I have a laundry list of gear that I'll be testing over the summer.  Gear that fits into backpacking and backpack angling, tenkara style.  Lightweight, compact stuff.  Purpose-driven, no-nonsense stuff.

First up is my new fixed-blade knife, an ESEE Izula II.  I've owned a Becker Necker (model BK11) for a few years, and it's been a great little neck knife.  However, even after adding a pair of really nice canvas micarta scales, it still was a little short in the handle and had a bit too much belly for easily slipping the blade into the smooth, wet bowels of a trout.

Enter the ESSEE Izula II.  This won't be the full-on review, but I just want to say that this little knife will receive a full summer's worth of testing in the backcountry.  It has already impressed me with the size and fit of the handle, which is longer and fits my hand better than the BK11.  Last night I started testing it in my kitchen, cutting up all the ingredients for a batch of Patrick Smith's Wild Casserole.  That was only the beginning, so stay tuned!  I have kindling to shave, trout to clean, fires to spark into life, snowshoe hares to dismember, and perhaps a cow elk to field dress.  The Izula II will be put to the task on all of that and more.

My new ESEE Izula II after cutting up two pounds of venison.
The Izula II sliced through veggies like butter.  Just right.
ESEE Izula II (bottom) alongside my Becker Necker (top) for comparison.

So, summer is starting, and so is my time guiding tenkara trips and living in the backcountry for a couple of months.  I have much to do, high country to explore, and quality gear to wring out.  Yahoo!