Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gear Junkie Revisited (Timberland's present to me)

A while back I wrote a post about a contest I won on Facebook where I wrote a joke about how Chuck Norris would use some amazing camp shoes made by Timberland. Gear Junkie held the contest, but I never received the prize.

Shortly after writing that post I received an e-mail from Gear Junkie, apologizing for the delay and promising that the camp shoes were on their way to me.

Two weeks ago I came home from school to discover a large box with my name on it. I opened the box and found present after present, all from Timberland!!!! Not only did they send me the camp shoes that I won on-line, but I also received a low-cut hiking/biking boot, a mid-cut gore-tex boot, a high-cut leather working boot, and a very light-weight day pack!!!! My wife was very entertained as each time I pulled an item out I said "NOOOO WAYYYY!!!", and was in complete awe that I was the lucky guy to receive such high quality products. It felt like Christmas in September!

Here are the sweet items I received. Can't wait to try them out to write reviews on Timberland's website!!!!

High-cut leather working boot

AMAZING gore-tex boot

View of the camp shoe when unzipped
View of the camp shoe when zipped up

Low-Cut hiking/biking boot

Very light-weight day pack

The purpose of this post is not to brag about all the cool stuff I received for free, but to show what great products Timberland has to offer, and to encourage others to participate in legitimate on-line contests. 

Needless to say, being in grad school does not give me much room to indulge myself with purchasing new equipment, so I am VERY fortunate to have these items added to my arsenal:)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Top 10 and Top 100 Hiking and Camping Blogs

I don't usually write quick and short posts, but thought that I would pass on this info I just came across today.

Two Heel Drive is one of those many outdoors blogs that I follow, and a couple of days ago the author posted his top 10 and top 100 hiking and camping blogs. He explains how he narrowed his 100 blogs down to 10, and why he feels that they are blogs worth reading.

Not sure if any of you are on Google Reader, but it is a GREAT way to subscribe to blogs instead of having to receive e-mails every time each blog is updated.

Check out the Top 10 blogs according to Two Heel Drive! There are other great resources on this website as well, including tips on starting a hiking blog (something I probably should have read before starting mine I'm sure...).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Survival Bracelets - more than just a fashion statement

More and more people are wearing these bracelets, and it seems like fewer and fewer people know what they are. I complimented a girl's survival bracelet several weeks ago, and she said "my what?" I repeated myself and she said "oh, why is it called that?" I gave a few examples of what the bracelet can be used for, and she looked at me like I was stranger than the fact that she was wearing a bracelet that she didn't even know the name (let alone purpose) of.

550 paracord is military grade cord first used during WWII on parachutes. Servicemen were able to use this cord from their parachutes for a number of different reasons. 550 means that the cord is able to support 550 lbs before breaking. Although it is fairly easy to see what several feet of rope can be used for, it's important to know that the cord gets its strength from the seven strands of two-ply yarns. So while the rope itself has several uses, the guts of the cord serves several purposes as well.

Here are several ways to use the cord:

  • Replacement shoelaces
  • Replacement belt
  • Clothes-line
  • Support line for shelter
  • Tying branches together for shelter
  • Trip-line for trapping game
  • Line for snares
  • Fishing line
  • Fishing net
  • Cord for a bow-drill (to make fire)
  • Tying splints
  • Tourniquets
  • Sewing threads
  • Emergency line to rappel 
  • Line to hang a bear bag
  • and literally anything you would need to use a rope for (as long as you have enough cord that is)
Easy to see why it's called a survival bracelet eh?

Make Your Own
There are at least two kinds of weaves to use when making a survival bracelet. The standard cobra weave, and then what some call the king cobra weave which is really just the standard cobra weave which is doubled back on itself. Here is a video for the standard cobra weave:

and here is the video I used for the thicker bracelet:

As the videos said, every inch in the standard bracelet equals one foot of paracord; every inch of bracelet with the king cobra weave equals two feet of paracord. You can see why it would useful to have 16 feet of paracord around your wrist. They didn't state this in either of the videos above, but if you need the cord in an emergency situation then you can pull out the core cord that the weave is tied around and the weave will simply fall apart.

Next time you see someone wearing one of these bracelets ask them why it's called a survival bracelet and see what they say. It has become pretty trendy to wear these. Although the trend may stay or die-out, the uses for 550 paracord will not. The cord is nylon, so it won't rot if it comes in contact with water.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gear Essentials - Choosing the right knife for the right occasion

There are several items that are essential when hiking, backpacking, or being in the outdoors, and a knife would be one of them. The reasons to have a knife on you when in the backcountry seems obvious enough, but I'll list a few just for fun: cutting, killing...that about sums it up:) There are many things you would want to cut (paracord, food, duct tape, ect), and in a survival situation a knife becomes arguably the most important item you could have. I will admit that I have secretly pictured myself taking down a mountain lion with a knife when it leaps to attack me, but am sure that my knife would remain in my pocket as I reach for my bear spray if a grizzly were to come around my campsite...
Not the best choice for lightweight hiking...
Choosing the right knife for the right occasion
A couple of weeks ago I read an article on-line about the worst choices made when purchasing equipment for backpacking. Several of the contributing authors agreed that their choice of knife was one of those poor choices. They said that they wanted to be ready for any possible scenerio, and assumed that the biggest and baddest survival knife would do the trick - even if it did weigh as much as their boots. Remember watching Rambo and seeing that awesome knife that had matches inside the handle? Yeah, one of the authors admitted to purchasing one of those.

1- Consider the weight
Knives vary in weight from just over one ounce, to as heavy and hefty as you can imagine. Here is the Gerber Mini Paraframe Knife. $10.82, 2 inch serrated blade, and weighs 1.6 ounces. You may not take down a bear with this mini knife, but you will be able to cut small branches and paracord. If you really want to make sure you are prepared with a serious knife then you could opt for one of those Rambo knives, or get the knife I received from my wife for Christmas - the Bear Grylls Survival Knife (11.2 ounces).
This is more like it
2- Consider the uses
What will you be using it for? Strictly hiking/backpacking? Survival and emergency preparedness?
A simple knife such as the paraframe may not start a fire for you by itself, but you have the option of getting the Bear Grylls Gerber survival kit which includes the lightweight knife along with an emergency whistle, waterproof matches, snare wire, emergency cord, and a cotton ball for a fire starter.
3- Consider the worst case scenario
You are better off being prepared for any situation that may come across your path, but be smart at the same time. How far are you hiking from any life-line (cell phone signal, any other people, ect)? If you are within walking distance from civilization, then you probably won't be needing to start hunting and gathering for survival, but if you are in the backcountry then you will need to bring your own life-lines. Personally, I want a simple knife for light-weight hikes, but also want those items that will get me out of a sticky situation (once again, the survival kit I mentioned above).

There are many other knives out there which would be great choices. Here are a couple other great knives you may want to consider: