GOAL ZERO 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit Review


venture30_mainIMG_9169

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

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Black Diamond Icon Polar Headlamp Review


BlackDiamondIconPolar

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

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

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

——EDIT——-
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

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

Solo Scientific Aurora FireStarter Review


AuroraFireStarter

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

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

Energizer 4 LED Headlight Review


EnergizerHeadLamp

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.

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