GOAL ZERO 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit Review


I have a lot of solar battery gear as my backpacking always includes a satellite texter and smart phone.

My favorite solar charger/battery used to be another product, that was submersible, practically bullet proof, and was an all-in-one unit. But it had three problems: It was cumbersome, it only had one port, and that port worked inconsistently. Continue reading


Black Diamond Icon Polar Headlamp Review


I don’t know much about headlamps.  In fact, until purchasing this unit, the most expensive headlamp I owned was a cheap $15 Energizer headlamp purchased on a whim in the Lowe’s checkout line that served me just fine for activities around the campsite.

Not too long ago, though, I went on  back packing trip where I night-hiked.  The Energizer ran out of batteries before I finished, and visibility was particularly bad due to the tree canopy along the hiking trail blocking starlight and the Energizer just didn’t have the power to see very far. Continue reading

Princeton Tec Apex Extreme Headlamp Review



I’m both impressed and disappointed with different aspects of this light. But overall, this will likely be my goto headlamp whenever I plan on long night hikes. Continue reading


Cammenga 3H Tritium Compass Review

Cammenga 3H Tritium Military Compass

You go backpacking and bushwacking and you don’t have one?

Some day, you might be out and about, and away from easy access to power, and you might need to get your bearings. While using a military compass takes practice, there are videos about this for beginners and it’s not overly difficult to learn the basics. So long as you know roughly where you are, can match up some sited items to a topo map, you can use this to get to where you need to go. Continue reading


Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Knife 7″ Review

Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat Utility Fixed Blade Knife (7-Inch)

This is a great knife. While it has unfortunately taken a back seat to another recent camping knife purchase, the versatility and durability of this knife is never in question.

rub a drop of oil on either side every once in a while and you’re golden for years and years. Continue reading


Sven Saw 15in Review

Sven Saw 15in

I have a few different portable saws.

This is by far the best one.

I wish there was a lot to say about this to help in making an informed decision, but there’s really not that much to say except that hatchets, other folding saws, and portable chains all tire me out a lot faster. The Sven Saw make pretty quick work of sawing 6″+ branches with minimal effort. And it doesn’t get stuck. Continue reading


Garmin GPS V Review

Garmin GPS V Waterproof Hiking GPS

August 2014

One of the very first reviews I ever wrote in the US was in 2004 on epinions, about this GPS V. I found it, and am therefore posting it here.

The Garmin GPS V deserves a 2014 mention because I’ve had quite a bit of experience with a variety of other GPS’s in the last decade and am still really stunned at the reliability of my Garmin GPS V. Continue reading



ECOXGEAR - ECOROX Rugged Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

ECOXGEAR – ECOROX Rugged and Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker – Black

If there’s one thing I’m a huge fan of, it’s rugged gadgets.  I purchased this because I recently went on a camping trip and the el cheapo blue tooth speaker I purchased just stopped working. I realized that it had gotten a little wet. not soaked, mind you, just a little wet. Continue reading


ESEE 6 Fixed Blade Knife Review

ESEE Knives 6P Fixed Blade Knife

If you’ve read my other reviews on camping knives, you know well that I don’t know much about them.

For me, a camping knife needs to be just sharp enough to do camping chores and be able to baton/split wood, and maybe do some occasional hacking and maybe just enough chopping so that I can snap a branch by stepping on it. Other than that, I don’t know or care much about the type of steel used, how well it holds an edge, etc. etc. Most camping knives fit that bill… Continue reading


Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Battery Review

Goal Zero 22002 Sherpa 100 Portable Recharger

Earlier this year, at Macworld, Goal Zero was there and offering a variety of their products at a slight discount so I picked up the Sherpa 100, a solar panel, and power inverter.

Having come from another company that makes a waterproof all-in-on solar battery with 5400 MaH, I was really looking for a battery that had four things: Continue reading


Steel Folding Trowel, 8 3/4″ Review

Stainless Steel Folding Trowel

This is a simple, compact, foldable trowel.

Pretty heavy for it’s small size.

Works consistently.

Sheath is durable.

Packs easily in just about any nook and cranny in your pack.


Leatherman New Wave Multitool Review

Leatherman 830039 New Wave Multitool

This latest Leatherman Wave is impressive (model 830039). The screw driver portion is a removable bit unlike the previous version. The outer sheathed blades and files have a similar but stronger locking mechanism, and overall the metal seems to be thicker, especially around focal points that show torque damage on my older Leatherman. Continue reading


Mitaki Crank Led Head Lamp Review

Mitaki-Japan Crank Led Head Lamp

Ever on the hunt to mitigate the need to carry spare batteries i was ecstatic to find this hand crank head lamp.

It’s pretty amazing that a minute of cranking allows this unit to last so long especially considering how inefficient cranking technologies are. Continue reading


StrongVolt Solar:6 Review

StrongVolt Solar-6 6Watt Folding Solar Kit

I bought this because the price for it was so good it was impossible to pass up, and I wanted something to augment my Solar Joos.

My big issue with this dual panel setup is that it really needs direct sunlight. Continue reading


Gerber E-Tool Folding Spade Review

Gerber 30-000075 E-Tool Folding Spade with Serrated Blade

Gerber 30-000075 E-Tool Folding Spade with Serrated Blade

I was looking for a folding shovel to take on hikes and was stuck between varying criteria:

– Wooden handled shovels are both light and durable, but cumbersome to pack
– heavier folding shovels are durable and semi-compact, but heavy
– lighter folding shovels are….lighter and compact, but lack durability. Continue reading


Nite Ize Small Figure 9 Carabiner Review

Nite Ize Small Figure 9 Carabiner

Nite Ize C9S-03-TP01 Small Figure 9 Carabiner with Rope, Black, Two-Pack

These things are pretty amazing.

For tying anything with a pull tension weight of 50lbs or less, these things are pretty unbeatable. Continue reading


Solo Scientific Aurora FireStarter Review


Stove comparison chart

To start with, I don’t know very much about magnesium or other fire-starters, so my review here might be moot for those more experienced.

There are a few main advantages to becoming skilled at using magnesium starters.  First, piezo igniters, often used in gas canister stoves, is basically a crystal that is charged electrically and they begin to fail (work intermittently) at around 10k feet and hardly work at all at around 13k feet, whick means jet lighters won’t work either.  Neither will regular flinter lighters like cheap bics. As they are pressurized and don’t work well in cold weather or high altitudes.   Continue reading


Joos Solar Orange Solar Battery Review

Joos Solar Orangeimage

When it comes to devices that charge your gadgets on the go, there are tons of external battery options out there, tons of portable solar panels and transportable solar panels out there, and finally, many crossover devices that are portable solar panels with built in external batteries. Continue reading


Winchester® Bowie Knife Review

Winchester® Bowie Knife

Two no frills camping trips in (yes, I’m a camping novice among novices), I’m now starting to get a feel for what I need on a camping trip and what I don’t.

As an uber novice, I made the mistake on my first trip of taking too much stuff and not using most of it. On my second trip, I got smarter, and left a bunch of the heavier tools at home. A 2.3lbs tri-fold shovel, a folding saw, and the larger of my two leatherman knives are now all left at home as i didn’t need them, nor see their value on the last two trips. Continue reading


Gerber Gator Exchange-a-Blade Saw Review

Gerber 22-41457 Gator Exchange-a-Blade Saw

EDIT: I currently prefer the SVEN saw to this unit. Review coming some time.

This is my first folding saw and as these things go, it’s clearly better than a knife for 4-6″ diameter wood. So for firewood collecting, this is great. Is it better than other folding saws out there? I have no idea. But it’s built fairly well and the sheath is good, designed to hold both the folding saw and extra blade. All in all, a good to have item for hiking.

Gerber 22-41457 Gator Exchange-a-Blade Saw


Smiths PP1 Pocket Knife Sharpener Review

Smiths Consumer Products PP1 Pocket Knife Sharpener

This is not a knife sharpener for daily use of course. But it’s good to leave in your pack in a pinch, because when you need to sharpen an overly dull knife in the middle of the woods, it’s always a good idea to have something handy to sharpen with. Continue reading


Energizer 4 LED Headlight Review


This isn’t a super high quality headlamp, but then again, it’s priced right for it’s features. Frankly, I don’t expect to need any more quality than this and am happy with the purchase.

The headlamp portion is a little heavy for a single headband strap. For this weight, it would be nice to have the extra over-the-head strap that many other headlamps have. Still, it should have plenty of power for hiking at night.


Estwing E3-FF4 Splitting Axe, 14-Inch Review

Estwing E3-FF4 Splitting Axe, 14-Inch

Considering how small this axe/maul is, it’s pretty amazing who well it splits wood.

The blade is sharp and angles out ridiculously wide, with a sledgehammer-like round back, so when splitting especially large diameter wood, you can use another hammer to push the blade in further if you can split the wood in a single blow. Continue reading


Garmin External GPS Antenna (BNC) Review

Garmin External GPS Antenna

I recently purchased this item for an old GPS that was going strong in most ways but suffered from a weakish signal. By purchasing this antenna, I was hoping to dramatically improve the signal, thereby turning an old mil-spec’d Garmin GPS V into a useful emergency GPS for my bug-out bag.

Since the original factory installed antenna is bnc, changing out to this antenna is a simple affair. Continue reading