Thursday, February 10, 2011

Overview of my Camping Gear-Part 3-Tools

In this next part of the overview of my camping gear, I want to take a look at the items listed as numbers 10,12, and 14 in Part 1 of the post. These are my tools.

The first item is my axe. The one you see in the picture is an axe I made myself, and has since then become my favorite. In size and weight it is identical to the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. In fact it uses the Small Forest Axe handle and a Northern Tool Camp Axe head which I have re-profiled. You can see more about the axe in my post here. Sometimes I’ll change the axe that I bring, especially if I am doing any testing. A hatchet would also make an adequate tool for most task, especially if you have a good saw.

The next item is my 24 inch Trailblazer Take Down Buck Saw. I have previously done a review of it here, and a comparison test with the Kershaw folding saw here. The version you see in the post has actually been modified. You can see the modifications in my post here. I also carry an extra saw blade, which fits within the saw. In my opinion, this is the best bang for the buck that I have been able to find when it comes to wood processing tool. It is not only an issue of being able to cut large pieces of wood, but also the speed with which you can cut smaller ones. This saw makes wood processing a breeze. It is not the lightest tool I carry, but it is worth every ounce. I bought mine for $25 here, although I have seen them go for as much as $40.

The last item is my tool bag. In it I have a bunch of paracord for setting up my tarp and other chores, as well as some artificial sinew. I keep the ropes in a ziplock bag because if you have your tarp in the rain, the ropes will get wet as well. You don’t want to put them together with your tool and get everything wet.

The smaller tools you see are the Mora 162 crook knife, the Mora 120 carving knife and the Leatherman Juice S4.

The Mora 162 crook knife is an adequate knife for making spoons and hollowing out other containers. It is sharp on both sides, allowing for more cutting positions. It is very lightweight and costs about $20. You can see more details about it here.

The Mora 120 is a small carving knife with a 2-inch blade. It is an excellent carving knife. In all likelihood however, since I have changed my primary knife, this one will probably be redundant, and I’ll stop carrying it. The reason why I left it in the picture is because it is a very good option in case you primary knife is a larger tool like a Fallkniven S1 or a BK2. This makes those fine tasks much easier. The knife costs about $15.

The next item in the bag is a U-Dig-It stainless steel folding trowel. I have sharpened the edge of mine somewhat to make it useful for hacking at roots when digging. It is by no means the lightest trowel on the market, but no matter how much I try to leave it behind, it always proves to be very useful. It costs about $17.

The last of the items is the Leatherman Juice S4. In terms of camping, there are a few things that I look for in a multi-tool . The first is a good set of pliers, the second is an awl, and a third is a pair of scissors. I don’t care much about the knife or the saw, as I already have better versions of those tool with me. The Leatherman Juice S4 has all the things I need. The pliers are good, including the wire cutters. It has a very good pair of scissors, better than the ones you see on many larger multi-tools. The awl has a fairly good design, although it was not sharp at all when I got it. I had to spend a good amount of time with a sharpening stone to get it sharp. All of this comes in a very compact package. All the features of a multi-tool are good to have, even though they don’t get used too often. That’s why I like the small, lighter weight design. The Leatherman Juice S4 costs about $45.

The only tool that I have left out of this post is a small snow shovel, which I bring when there has been a lot of snow and I have to dig to get to solid ground.