I have been very impressed with the little guy so far and it is definitely the easiest and most well thought out firesteel based tool that I have ever used. The initial reports had it rated for something like 100 strikes, but it has a 1/4″ firesteel in there that should be good for at least several hundred strikes. The version I stock is the brand new version with the rotating firesteel that lets you rotate the rod to a spot that has not been scraped yet if you want/need to do that for any reason.
Surprisingly, even my wife wanted one. She normally rolls her eyes at any light producing, fire starting, or sharp cutting implements, so having her want one was a bit of a shock to me. She gets all enthusiastic at gun shows when customers ask what it is and launches into a demonstration of fire on one of our tables that will surely get me in trouble with the show owners one day.
They are still plastic like the Blastmatch and Strikeforce, but the small size, light weight, and ease of use with the Sparkie are steps in the right direction for UST.
I played with fire a bit more after messing with the Sunlighter, this time using fresnel lenses.Ã‚ If you are not familiar with a fresnel lens, picture a magnifying glass that is flat.Ã‚ It uses grooved rings on the surface to focus light, and can focus the sun’s light on a single point if you aim it correctly.Ã‚ On a sunny day, it can light tinder in a matter of seconds.Ã‚ The really large sizes can burn through a piece of wood, which is ridiculous and awesome at the same time.
I spent some time playing with fire recently (shocking), this time using the sun.Ã‚ The Sunlighter uses a reflector to focus the sun’s rays on a single point to light your tinder.Ã‚ On a sunny day, tinders will start smoking almost instantly and will catch on fire soon thereafter.
I like fire as much as I like flashlights.Ã‚ Maybe even more.Ã‚ I waver back and forth, depending on which shiny new object has captured my attention most recently.Ã‚ Some little lighters that I got as samples from the manufacturer of my waterproof capsule lighter have been in my pack or kits for a long time and have held up really well, so I am pleased to finally be able to offer them to you folks.
First off, I have a slim lighter that you many have seen in my videos a time or two.Ã‚ If I need a lighter, this is usually the one I reach for.Ã‚ It’s not waterproof like the capsule lighter, but I am pretty good about keeping my gear clean and dry, so I’ve never had any problems with it.Ã‚ It’s got such a slim profile that it can slip just about anywhere and I never notice it there until I need it.
Next up we’ve got the squat lighter.Ã‚ It is a nice, compact size like the slim lighter, but on the height dimension instead of width.Ã‚ Like the slim lighter, it is an adjustable refillable butane lighter using a piezo ignition.
Last off is an interesting little lighter.Ã‚ The other two have a windproof blue flame, but this one has a more traditional Bic-like orange/yellow flame.Ã‚ Instead of using a piezo ignition, it has a (replaceable) flint striker.Ã‚ It looks like something from many moons ago, but has the modern benefit of refillable butane.Ã‚ It also has a nice black crinkle finish that gives it a good grip and a slick look.
Rechargeable batteries are pretty wonderful. They save money since they can be used over and over and over. They save resources since you are not buying alkaline or lithium batteries ad infinitum for your electronic toys. They do eventually die, but most chargers will make you think that they are dead long before the end of their useful life.
Smart chargers like the LaCrosse BC-900 can not only extend the life of your rechargeable batteries, but they can also make those batteries last longer on a single charge.
The BC-900, in particular, has some very nice features that set it above your average charger that you pick up at Target. First off, each battery is charged on an individual circuit, which means that you can charge different types of batteries without worrying about damaging the batteries or the charger, like you possibly can with a regular charger. Those idividual circuits have very complex monitoring technology to ensure that they do not overcharge and ruin your battery, a major problem with many fast chargers on the market. The circuits can also immediately detect whether or not a battery is completely shot or not, so you do not have to wait until you need the battery to figure out that it is destined for the recycling center. The BC-900 can charge batteries that my other chargers don’t even recognize as batteries in the first place.
Second, you can change the rate at which it charges. If you want to be nice and gentle to your poor little batteries, make it charge slow. If you want to inundate your batteries with as much juice as possible in the shortest amount of time possible, crank it all the way up. I personally just leave it on the middle setting, so it is not frustratitingly slow and also does not burn out my batteries.
Lastly, and coolest to me (I admit that I am a giant nerd, so take this with a grain of salt), is the “discharge and refresh” function. Most chargers will just charge a battery a single time, which can make the battery not have the maximum amount of charge possible. The discharge and refresh function does just that, discharge each battery completely, and then recharge them with the maxium amount of capacity (mAh) over and over. This process can take several days, but it will also help you achieve those ratings you see on your batteries, like “2600 mAh.” In my experience, just charging a battery once will get you about 2/3 of the capacity that the battery is capable of, which means that you are losing a full 1/3 of what the battery is capable of. The BC-900 will help make sure that you take full advantage of your batteries, which is very nice if you take them on a trip where size and weight matter, like on a hiking or travel trip.
There are other nice featuers of the BC-900, but those are what I believe set it apart from other chargers. The BC-900 and similar chargers are more expensive than your average charger, but if your house is littered with five million flashlights, electronics, game controllers, remotes, etc. like mine is, it will very quickly pay for itself.
I managed to avoid the powerful lure of SteepAndCheap for a good year, mostly thanks to a bank account containing some pocket lint and maybe an Altoid or two.Ã‚ Their recent splitting of ski, snowboard, kayak, bike, etc. gear and focus on traditional camping gear and clothing has pulled me back in with several purchases in recent months.Ã‚ Of course, most of them were some form of merino wool.
The most recent purchase was of the Backcountry.com Merino Crew Short Sleeve Shirt.Ã‚ Ã‚ Three of them, in fact.Ã‚ I already own a few BC merino items and have been impressed with their quality, so this purchase was a safe one.Ã‚ The BC merino quality, softness, and weave easily rival Icebreaker’s, which is a very high compliment judging from the several thousand (retail) dollars worth of Icebreaker hanging in my and my wife’s closets.
Most of my merino is long sleeve, winter stuff, which is quite dumb considering I live in a state that is over 100F approximately 11 1/2 months out of the year.Ã‚ A good bit of my camping, backpacking, and general travel is in the southeast as well, so I was on the prowl for lighter weight merino.Ã‚ Merino t-shirts are actually very comfortable in the summer, due to the temperature regulating propertiesÃ‚ of merino fibers.Ã‚ They wick moisture, keep you cool when warm, and dry faster than cotton.Ã‚ Plus, they have natural anti-funk properties, which is nice on multi-day outdoor excursions.Ã‚ You might reek and cause other hikers to recoil at your stench, but your shirt won’t!
Man, I can really babble about merino, can’t I?Ã‚ Anyway, the BC Merino Crew Shirts are nice.Ã‚ The shirts have sleeve and shoulder seams that come down on the front and back of the collar instead of the traditional top of the shoulder seams.Ã‚ The different cut seams do not rub your shoulders when you have a pack, meaning that the 50 lbs of crap you have to carry when backpacking with your significant other is not quite as uncomfortable.Ã‚ The merino is very soft and the material is relatively thin, same as the other BC pieces I own.Ã‚ The weave is a tighter weave than a lot of companies use, but it has a lot of stretch to it.Ã‚ The collar itself is a combination of a v-neck along with another piece of material that makes it a quasi crew neck, a combination that is actually nice and comfortable.
The only downside to the shirt is that it is extremely form-fitting, which depending on your fitness level, may or may not be a downside for you.Ã‚ It, unforutnately, is currently a downside for me.
Costco was the wonderful Eneloop Power Pack on sale for $19.99 after an instant rebate.Ã‚ You pack tax on the before rebate price ($27.99), so keep that in mind.Ã‚ The pack contains:
8 x AA
2 x AAA
4 x C adapters
4 x D apapters
4 cell charger
If you are not familiar with Eneloops, they are low self discharge rechargeable batteries, which means that they still have 85% of their charge left after a year of storage.Ã‚ Regular NiMh batteries lose their entire charge in a matter of weeks or months, so these are great batteries for outdoorsy people to have in backpacks and kits.Ã‚ They also can provide a high amperage, which is nice for flashlights and other electronics that can take advantage of the additional power.
For once, this is not a short deal that only last a week or two.Ã‚ The sign at the Costco by me said the price is good through 8/31/09.
OK, this is the last flashlight video, I swear. For at least a week anyway. Maybe only a couple of days…
This one shows the three CREE MC-E 700 lumen beast flashlights that I stock, the Fenix TK40, Olight M30 Triton, and Jetbeam M1X.Ã‚ They all use the same LED, but they are different enough that each one is better for different situations.Ã‚ Or, if you are like me, you just get all three and make planes land in your backyard.
Ah, what’s next in the flashlight videorama? How about one showing some of Fenix’s most popular flashlights, the LD10, LD20, PD20, and PD30?Ã‚ These are very popular for a good reason, with their fantastic battery life, easy interface, and rugged bodies.Ã‚ Fenix is the brand that started me down the path of premium flashlights several years ago, so I figured they deserved a video or two.
Only two more flashlight videos after this, I swear (for now).
This one shows the Jetbeam M1X, the only flashlight of the three 700 lumen CREE MC-E lights that I stock where you can actually adjust the brightness, which is a very useful feature. You have two modes, one where the beam is at full blast, and the other is the one you can set. The M1X also has the largest reflector out of the three, which means that it can light up objects a few football fields away (seriously).