Choosing a Good Pocket Knife

knivesFor the adventurer, there is one item that you would never dare leave behind – the trusty pocket knife. Whether you want to explore a foreign city, a jungle, desert, or even the coldest regions of the world, the pocket knife is truly something that can save your life in more ways than you can imagine.

Today, there are thousands of knives available to purchase on the market today. The prices may range from around a dollar or two in some countries, to several hundred bucks. The question is, which knife is right for you?

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Consider a blade of at least 3-4 inches. It must not be too long that it will not fit the description as pocket knife, yet it must not be too short that you cannot touch the bottom of a sandwich spread jar!
  2. The thinner, the better. Thinner does not always mean more fragile. Technological advances have increased the strength and versatility of steel. Generally thin blades are more useful than their thicker counterparts.
  3. Carbon steel and stainless steel have their pros and cons. Carbon steel can be sharper and is generally easier to sharpen. On the other hand, stainless steel might be harder to sharpen but they stay sharp for much longer periods and of course can resist corrosion very well.
  4. Serrated knives are not necessarily better than your conventional straight blade.  Sure they have better cutting power in many situations but sharpening them can be an impossible task.

The good news is, there are a lot of remarkable knives available in the market today. It would be very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to say that one is better than the other. These top-of-the-line knives are the best of their kind, and they offer unique features that you cannot find in other knives. Indeed, the market and the competition have driven the creators of these pocket knives to the absolute limits of quality and perfection.

As such, here is a short selection of great pocket knives to consider.

Buck 110 Folding Hunter

This pocket knife is one of the most remarkable knives I know and has been a classic for quite some time. As a matter of fact, many would argue that all pocket knives originated from the Buck 110. In other words, the Buck 110 is the father of all pocket knives. Well, it is actually pretty easy to see why there is such an opinion as this. First of all, these knives have been in production since 1964. Indeed, the knife still makes use of the design which has immortalized its name in the hearts of many adventurers. While it may lack the tactical style of many modern knives, do not be misled, this knife performs just as well if not better.  Furthermore, it is made from excellent stainless steel which makes it resistant to rusting.

SOG Flash II

What makes this knife great is that it has the features of the top-of-the-line knives, but without the cost. The SOG Flash II is a super pocket knife than can cut almost anything you want; it has an excellent semi-serrated blade which stays sharp for its entire lifetime; it has a very comfortable grip; and, what sets this one aside from your typical top-notch knife, is that this costs well under $50 from most places. Of course, it would not be just to say that this model can totally outperform other more expensive knives, but, for its price, this is definitely something you might want to try.

Benchmade Mini Griptilian

The Mini Griptilian is probably one of the most popular upper end pocket knives today. It features a high quality blade sharp enough to shave with and a truly exceptional deployment and locking mechanism.  Sure enough, the Mini Griptilian is one tough knife, but the ingenious design of the folding mechanism makes it very user-friendly, so to speak.

Chris Reeve Sebenza

It is said that the Sebenza is the best knife your money can buy. Reviews from far and wide and unanimous in saying that this folding knife is one of the best ever made. It has a handle, which doubles as a frame, made from ultra-strong titanium steel, and the blade is made from the finest S30V stainless steel which translates to what we may call as eternal sharpness. It is super sharp, it is super comfortable, and it is super expensive.  Well, the last may be the only drawback for the Sebenza. Then again, if you are after the utmost quality regardless of cost, then this is the knife for you.

Choosing a Tactical Backpack

backpackFor adventure lovers and thrill seekers, choosing the right backpack is as important as the journey itself. Indeed, how you enjoy the entire adventure will largely depend on the comfort that your pack provides. For instance, if you get a pack that is too big, then you would be bringing with you a lot of energy-consuming weight the whole time; too small, and you would not be able to bring important materials; choose the wrong material and you would have a bag that does little to protect your stuff from the elements.

There are certain considerations that you have to put in mind before you buy a backpack. Failure to take these things to account can lead to your purchase of a pack that will not satisfy your needs. So, what are some of the things that you need to consider?

We are going to discuss some of the most important factors that you must think over in order to be able to acquire the best possible backpack for you and your lifestyle. Avid travellers and adventurers actually have stricter guidelines for their backpack choice. Basically, the pack that they choose would depend on the distance and the span of time of their whole journey, among others. In this article, we are going to give suggestions for those individuals who would love to try travelling as a healthy vacation alternative.

Materials

The very first thing that you must take into account is the materials with which your backpack is made. Naturally, your pack must be strong enough to hold a lot of weight. Of course, since you will be going on an adventure, you need to expect that you would be bringing a lot of stuff which will put a lot of stress on your bag. The longer the journey is, the heavier your backpack will be. Therefore, you need a bag that will maintain its physical integrity up to the end of your journey, no matter how long it might be.  I recommend strong materials such as the following which are great examples:

Second, you need to get a bag that is water resistant. Mind you, not all packs will have complete water-resistance.  While you need not get a bag with 100% water resistance, you need to buy something which offers a great deal of protection against water. You might not travel to dry areas, but there is not a single place in this world that is rain-free. It can and will rain where you are, no matter how infamously hot and dry it might be.

Compartments

Your bag must have multiple compartments. Compartments make organization of your stuff a whole lot easier. You need to have a place to put your survival knife, lighter, map, and all other materials that you need on a regular basis. It’s advised not to mix these up with the rest of your goods which will only make for a frustrating experience.

Security

Is it important to secure your travel bag? Is it still critical to lock your backpack which you carry with you all the time? Yes and yes.  While you may carry your pack 80% of the time, you must put it down at some point, like when you are at the airport or when you feel you want to take a break in a busy place. Basically, you need to make sure that you backpack has lockable zippers. Lockable zippers would protect the contents of your pack. You might say that no one would be interested in stealing all your dirty clothes, but that is not really the main threat to travellers. If you are travel involves an inter-country journey, you need to double your protection of your bag. You really need to have a small degree of paranoia. Why? Well, there are some guys out there who can put drugs in your bag. If there are these things in your bag at the airport, then you could end up in big trouble. This has happened before, it can happen again. Let it not happen to you!

Comfort

You have to remember that, as a traveller, you will typically carry a lot of weight. If you are going to a mountain hike, you would want to make sure that your bag offers premium comfort. Fortunately, thanks to innovation and advanced technology, you can now carry forty kilos of stuff in your bag and still feel like you are carrying something around ten kilos.

The trick here is the ergonomics and the padding. Therefore, you have to look for backpacks with padded hip belt, shoulder straps and back. The padding provides some kind of cushion so that your body does not absorb the full weight of the bag.

When you are shopping for a backpack, you need to check whether the padding is made of a single material or not. Basically, those made from a single material is much better since they do not wear out quickly.

Wrap up

Looking for the perfect bag for you may not be that difficult these days. Generally, adventurer backpacks are made up of excellent materials and they are scientifically created to satisfy the travelling needs of the traveller. Therefore, the best thing that you can do is to ask the opinions of others about it. You can also check out their prices. The rule of thumb is, the more expensive the bag, the higher is its quality. While there are high-quality bags down the mid-price range, it is important to consider avoiding those bags which are super cheap. Chances are, these bags are haphazardly made for the purpose only of making profit from ill-informed buyers.

 

Choosing your Rifle Scope

scopeAlthough I would say that it is definitely preferable to get a scope for your rifle, too many people think that the more power is the better, which is all too often wrong.

A scope is better than relying on the standard metal sights of the rifle because with the metal sights you have to be able to rapidly adjust focus between the rear and the front sight which some people may have difficulty with, especially as they get older. The scope on the other hand, once focused to your sight allows for you to stay focused on the target, literally.

The problem with more powerful scopes is that they do not have a range low enough.  It is OK having a sight that is perhaps 10 to 20 times magnification but what happens if your target is a few yards away, which is often the case, even with a magnification of only 5 or 6, all you can see is a patch of fur at best and you lose orientation between you and the location of your target.  The other reason is that the more powerful the lens, the less light is available through the scope.  Even though it is common these days to hear that a scope has “light gathering capabilities”, a scope only has the light that is available to it and in the context of scopes, that is usually 90% of the actual light available and this obviously goes down the greater the magnification is.  If you really want to spend some really big money, then you may find a scope that has 98% light at its lowest magnification but what we must remember is that many times our aiming is done at dawn or dusk when light is a major factor and we cannot afford to lose any.

This means that perhaps the choosing of your scope should have consideration of the lowest magnification, being of at least as equal in importance as the highest magnification and get the lowest magnification possible, for what you believe you will need.

Here is a guideline:

For Squirrel hunting a magnification of up to x4, for small game a magnification range between x4 and x12, large game in dense woods either x1.5 to x4 or x2 to x7 magnification, large game in fairly open countryside, either x3 to x9 or 2.5 to 10 magnification and if hunting large game in open country a scope with magnifications of either between x4 to x12 or x6 to x18 should be considered.

Objective Lens Size

The objective lens is the one at the end furthest from you, which lets in the light.  Most people use a 40mm lens and that is fine but some people, perhaps for show, have bigger ones perhaps 50mm or even 75mm.  Although having a larger mm objective lens may let in more light for the very high magnifications in bad light conditions, priority should be given here to the ease of eye alignment and comfort. Because of the size of the objective lens on the bigger ones, the scope is set too high off the barrel and sometimes only allows your chin to rest against the stock.  A 40mm lens should be good enough for most situations and yet still allows for rapid readiness to an optimum firing stance.  However, when deciding what size the objective lens should be on your scope, consider the ‘exit pupil’ size.

Exit Pupil

The exit pupil is the size of the light beam leaving the eyepiece of the scope; it is measured by diameter in mm and has a direct correspondence to the size of the objective lens on the scope.

Consider that an average human’s eye pupil’s diameter is 2mm in daylight and 7mm in darkness but for those over 50 years of age rarely reaching past 5mm and compare that to the size of the exit pupil. To ascertain the size of the exit pupil divide the mm of the objective lens by the magnification of the scope.

Example: 40mm scope on a scope with magnification between x3 and x9. At x3 the exit pupil is 13mm and at x9 it is 4.4mm.

The larger the exit pupil, the less critical the closeness of the eye to the scope becomes, thereby perhaps avoiding a possible black eye.

Cost

It is pointless spending a lot of money on an expensive rifle if you can’t hit anything because you have a bad scope.  It that respect, it would be more advantageous to spend less on the rifle and more on the scope but don’t buy bigger than you need as the extra weight and size can be cumbersome and create less accuracy.

Survival Means Fire and Water

fireYour survival over any amount of time is going to be dependent on fire and water. Food is obviously important but you could survive several days without it, you may be weak and certainly undernourished but you would be alive. That can’t be said if you go without water for even a day or two.

The problem with water is that it is bulky and heavy, meaning you are limited to the amount that you can carry and so any survival situation of longer than one day means you are going to have to find a supply of water wherever you are, and that is not always so easy.

Water

Even if you have access to a stream that looks clear and fresh, it is unadvisable to drink directly from it as there could be a dead animal in the water anywhere upstream and that alone could contaminate the water, even if it is a couple of miles away. The water that you take from any river or stream needs to be purified. It is not really useful drinking a couple of ounces of water, just to lose 10 times that through diarrhea or worse, you could catch Cholera, typhoid or salmonella, really adding problems to your survival. Even if you are able to capture rain water or even set up a condensation trap for water, get in the habit of purifying it before drinking.

There are several ways to purify your water but even after using purification tablets, I still boil the water where possible. Perhaps a less known method of purification could sometimes be used and that is, solar distillation. Solar distillation involves placing the water in a clear plastic bottle, shaking it well and then leaving it in bright sunlight for at least 6 hours. As the water heats up, the solar energy kills the microbes in the water, however it is always better and usually more convenient and safer to boil the water but, in order to do that, you need a fire.

Fire

Fire is very important to your survival. Not only will a fire provide heat in the cold, it will also allow you to boil water, cook food and act as a deterrent for some wild animals. It also helps mentally as it provides a feeling of comfort and security and so you do not want to let the fire go out, especially at night.

There are basically three components that are needed for fire to first start and then continue burning. The first is heat, the second is oxygen and the third is fuel.

Heat: In order to initiate the fire, you will have to originally provide the heat but once it is started, this component is refurbished by the fire itself. Hopefully in your survival package you would have placed some waterproof matches and either a piece of firelighter or something else suitable to use as tinder. Tinder is the first to be lit and although easy to light it doesn’t need to burn long, just long enough for the kindling to catch. If you didn’t bring some tinder in your pack, you could use something like very dry leaves coconut husk or the likes, then the kindling will be very small dry twigs. At this point it is very important that both your tinder and kindling are very dry in order to catch, the logs or wood later, once the fire is going, can be a little damp but not the tinder or kindling. If you didn’t pack the matches then you will have to resort to a more primitive source of fire; friction.

Fuel: Wood is generally used as the fuel for a fire but peat or coal can also be used. Before you start your fire you need to ensure that you have an adequate supply of fuel on hand, you do not want to have to re-start your fire, especially if you didn’t bring the matches. A common mistake that people often make is to try and build the fire up too early, do not expect one small piece of kindling to start a large log burning, slowly build up the kindling using bigger and bigger pieces and once they have caught, add first smaller pieces of wood, perhaps the drier ones. Once the fire has really got going large pieces of wood can be placed on the fire, even if slightly damp.

Oxygen: Obviously oxygen is supplied by the air but you should try and build your fire in a sheltered location in case of rain. Also if a fire is sheltered on at least two sides, the shelter will reflect back the heat giving you more warmth. Try and keep adequate supplies of fuel especially at night and keep it close enough to the fire that the fire will help dry it out but not too close that it catches pre-maturely.

With these vital elements in mind you should be able to prolong your survival for as long as possible in an emergency situation.

The Right Knife for Survival

FallknivenProbably the most important item for any survival package is a knife. Now, I am not talking about a pocket knife that has endless gadgets, you can carry one of those if you like. Nor am I talking about a machete. A machete is certainly good to have especially in some environments where it is perhaps almost a necessity but what I want to discuss here are the survival knives and the importance of making the right choice in which one to get.

Most people think of survival knives like the one Rambo carried or the other ones you see in the movies; survival kit, compass and whatever else, all in the handle of the knife. Those are knives I DO NOT recommend.

Although I can make some suggestions or recommendations here, the choice must always of course be yours. Nobody has the same identical skills and so what may be a good choice of knife for one person, may not be for another and so these are just meant as guidelines, facts that can assist you in making the right decision on which is the correct knife for you.

Blade

First I have to say I do not recommend getting a folding blade knife. Although a folding blade may be smaller and easier to carry, perhaps in your pocket but as the blade is hinged, that is its weakest point. It is no use selecting a strong blade for some really rough work, if the hinge cannot take the pressure. A knife, just like anything else, is only as strong as its weakest part.

You do not want a blade that is too small but also you don’t want one that is too big.  About 4” to 6” or 7” is probably the right size. You will probably know the disadvantages of having a small blade but having a blade that is too big, can perhaps be restrictive in some of the uses you may have liked to put it.

The blade needs to be made of strong steel but be careful of what kind of edge profile it has. Although a hollow ground blade can be extremely sharp, in the woods it can be incredibly hard to sharpen, whereas a compound grind can be sharp and still reasonably easy to sharpen.

One of my favorite folding knives is the Spyderco Tenacious – check out this video:

Tang

The continuance of the steel blade into the handle of the knife is called the tang and it is the type of tang that a knife has, which determines much of the knife’s overall strength. It is for this reason that I do not recommend the ‘movie knives’. In order to hold a compass or survival kit, the handle must be hollow and a knife that has a hollow handle can not be as strong as a solid one.

The ideal and strongest knife will have a tang that is the complete length of the handle. You are in a survival situation which means you will not be able to foresee what you may need your knife for and how strong it therefore needs to be. There is absolutely no advantage to having a weak knife that can let you down at a crucial time.

Handle

The handle of the knife needs to be strong and firm, yet comfortable to grip, you don’t know how much you may need to use it. It should have a good blade guard especially on the side with the cutting edge of the blade. In a survival situation there enough hazards without you cutting yourself on your own blade.

On the opposite end of the handle to the blade (the butt), it is preferable to have a pommel, this will allow you more flexibility with heavier tasks, as you can hammer the end of the knife and not damage the handle.

Sheaf

For the protection of both you and the knife, any knife should have a good sheaf. For this purpose perhaps leather is best, as it is strong yet pliable. The sheaf should have belt loops, even though you may prefer to carry it somewhere other than around your waist. It should also have a strap to keep the handle in place. If it comes with a pocket for a sharpening stone, OK but remember that that is more weight.

Overall I recommend something like an ESEE-5, Fallkniven A1 L or Spyderco Bushcraft G-10.  Knives like this are extremely effective and will serve you well.  Don’t forget, a knife is often the key to your survival, so pick wisely.