Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wish-Lusr: American Kami / Boker - Chickenhawk

US Fathers Day was coming up, and so was my birthday. This got me to thinking about shiny things to add to my collection, things I've thus far considered extravagant — but are perfect for my adoring tribe to buy me. First published on Breach Bang Clear in time for Father's day, here:

One such item is a piece from one of my favorite bladesmiths: D.J. Urbanovsky of American Kami. I already have one of his Super Colubris knives . It's my go-to camping kitchen knife and is on my hip at most outdoor cooking events. No ham is safe from me and my AK.

Something that always catches my eye when sorting through the American Kami range are his badass axes. As only an occasional lumberman and recreational camper, I've never had the practical need of a very expensive bespoke axe (much as I may have lusted after them). Things changed when D.J. released his line of smaller tomahawk-sized axes, in the Micraxes and heftier maniaxes.

Suddenly they are in my dilettante price range!

Grunts: dilettante.

Better still, just recently D.J.'s CHickenHawk tomahawk was picked up by Boker Plus for mass production. This is great news for us collectors who want a piece of the man's work, but don't need (or cannot finance) the man's actual blood, sweat and tears in the grooves of our chopper. I'm quite happy to have some German factory worker's skin cells stuck in mine. Anyway, this frees D.J. up to design and build new pieces of badass steel.

Sitting at an overall length of just over 9", the Chicken Hawk is significantly more versatile in terms of transportation and carrying options than a classically proportioned tomahawk. My current go-to tomahawk is my Boker Tomahook . You may not care, but it's my article so I'm going to tell you anyway.

The Tomahook sits at a hefty 18 1/8" overall, taking up a fair about of pack and hip space. The Boker Chickenhawk features full-body 440C steel construction, and is sandwiched between G-10. For those of you with deeper pockets, the American Kami hand-made version is cut from 6.3mm thick D2 steel making for an essentially indestructible tactical tool.

With its main cutting edge length of 2 1/4 in. (though still in keeping with we've seen from D.J. in the past), the axe head is also dressed along the top edge all the way to the eye. The concept is rounded out by the impact element formed on the pommel. Weighing in at a not insubstantial 576 g (1.3 lbs), it has the mass to make its presence known.

The ergonomically shaped handle not only supports classic hacking, but also permits a securely chocked grip for detailed work, be it for whittling, scraping or cutting. Not to mention levering if popping Masterlock Padlocks is something within your remit to do.

The Boker Chickenhawks feature a thick spikes pick at the butt, but some of the American Kami version featured the alternate hammer face. I'm of two minds about this; hammers are excellent tools and effective at delivering impact force, but a well made, tempered spike can save your regular fixed blade knife from being used inappropriately. If I had to choose just one from a pair of near twin, I think I'd pick the spike over the hammer.

The included Kydex sheath with strap cannot only be carried on the belt or gear but also under the arm. These early models (not in my collection) have eyelets for simple paracord lacing attachment, but the Boker Plus production runs have a multi-point lacing construction for attaching them to packs, belts or chest rigs. I think I'd like to see how running one in the arm-pit would work for me and my adventures on and off trail.

The Chicken Hawk is a beautifully designed and executed, vicious but sensible looking little axe that I'd very much like to add to my collection, should any of my family be thinking of ways to treat me this coming Fathers Day, to save myself from socks or pouches (another favorite). Knowing the quality of the American Kami originals and the Boker Plus mass-productions pieces, I'm happy to recommend anyone interested in one of these to get in there and add one to your tool collection (or that of your dad's).

If you're planning to get your Nathaniel "Hawk-eye" Bumppo or Ragnar Lodbrok on (or you think your old man will), you could do far worse than having one of these at your hip or tucked unobtrusively under your arm.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Savoury Tooth - Not-Sweet bars

Whilst getting ready to get back to work, I went and got some new pants, as I'd lost enough weight that my pant-size had changed. Whilst in Kathmandu looking or suitable pants, I came across some interesting snack-bars and thought I'd give them a go. Given that my job entails me sitting at my desk tapping out code and putting out electronic fires, I eat a lot of food-bars as it's fast and easy. However, mindful of my diet, I was intrigued to see these are not sweet-candy bars like many trail snacks are, I've covered some in the past. The Bounce food-balls and the Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars which are both good products, but both pretty sugary.

These protein bars are primarily made of a whey protein concentrate purported to lower blood sugar levels when consumed before a high glycemic meal and is the most complete protein.

They feature a polydextrose binding agent, where something like treacle or molasses might be used in other food. The one used in the Savoury Tooth bars is a low GI soluble fiber with prebiotic properties.

It helps to slow down the digestion process alleviating blood sugar spikes. Reducing sugar rush effects.

Heavily spiced, with woo-seeming ingredients like turmeric for its active polyphenol known as curcumin purported to help provide an ideal intervention for type 2 diabetes. Ginger, chilli, cinnamon, coriander, lemongrass and garlic have also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels.

Importantly, these bars taste amazing, and had a really nice texture: Not too hard to bite or chew, but not mushy or pasty. Dense and rich. The seeds included gave each bite a variety of texture. Food fatigue is a real thing, and having some variety makes a lot of difference, remember that when you're loading up your bunker or bug-out bag.

The Svoury Tooth bars come in "Thai Green Curry" and "Thai Peanut Stay". Both really do taster like they are described. For me, after a few chews, and rolled the bite around in my mouth, the flavours emerged and I found myself recalling street meals I had in the streets of Bangkok and Singapore I had growing up. I'd go as far as to say these were authentic flavours, from my non-native pallet. Jut a hint of spice, certainly enough to get the mouth juices flowing, but not so much as to drive me to rinse my mouth out or reach for he milk. Certainly enough to satisfy the Texan in my culinary history. Not Jakarta Crazy-Wings hot, by a long shot, but not Vanilla thickshake either.

From a nutritional perspective, the

Savoury Tooth protein bars are great after any workout. Each 50g bar offer s 870kJ of energy, or 10% of a 2000cal daily diet. 21-19% of the protein intake 13% of the fat and 6% of the carbs. There is quite a lot packed into these little bars, but the heavy seed and spice content, the bars come with a reasonably short best-before dates, ofonbly a few months as the rich aromatics would age poorly.

I've found the couple I bought to be very tasty and fun to eat and a perfect break from other sweet snacks. Not as satisfying as beef-jerky, but still, a good pre-packaged snack.

The advertising was great too, these post-cards made me chuckle even months later when I pulled them out.

Low in sugar, with complex carbs, high in protein, and dietary fiber, Gluten free these seem to be really viable healthy alternatives to other candy-like sports and protein bars. I'm not a big fan of woo, and straight edge vegan, paleo lifestyles, but these healthy bars don't wrankle me as soy-based, cruelty-free fair-trade hippie-bars might, they are more the granola eating, merino-wool beanie mountain climber food. plenty of bang for your mass!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: CampMaid's Charcoal Chimney

I love cooking, and I love fire. cooking outdoors is always so satisfying, especially when done over fire. BBQ's a re primal, an whilst LPG or propane is fast and convenient, its not quite the same. However. getting a fire going takes time and effort and can be fiddly and messy, not to mention frustrating if you're running to a schedule.

I came across a tool to assist In the starting of briquette bbq's on Kickstarter, and thought it would be a good investment. Camp Maid make a variety of camp-fire cooking tools, mostly focusing on cast-iron Dutch oven type cooking tools, but their Kickstarter project for a collapsible charcoal chimney caught my eye.

CampMaid's Charcoal Chimney is a unique twist on the traditional concept to quickly heat charcoal for outdoor cooking! The twist being that the sides of the chimney are hinged so it folds flat for storage and packing. Designed to fit inside the lid of a 12" Dutch oven to keep all your sooty-gear together!

The principle is pretty simple. Up to 45 briquettes at a time are loaded into the top of the chimney, onto the fold-down grill that creates an air-space under the coals for you r kindling or solid-fire-starter cubes. I typically use the fire-Cone starter and kerosene from the big old tank on our property (a hold over from the redundant oil-heating system the house was built with. Once lit, the Quickly heats charcoal in about 7-10 minutes and you're ready to grill.

A handle on the side assists with placement and emptying once its hot and ready to go. The handle is supposed to be heat-safe. However, id recommend wearing gloves. and take care. my handle melted and caught on fire! Once the plastic sloughed off and burned away, it was fine but be aware.

Both the body of the chimney and the handle fold flat for easy of storage, though I found once fired, it took some manipulation to get it fully flat. The inner grill needs to be folded up but the inside of the chimney has space for it.

Also it can be used as a hobo stove. with the internal grill down, pretty much any solid combustible fuel can be placed in its burn chamber, and the rigid sides act as a base for a pan or pot, or even to hold the skewers for your rat-on-a-stick. For camping, tailgating, scouting, backyard, beach, survival the CampMaid Charcoal Chimney makes for a simple, dependable, portable fire pit you can leave in the trunk of the car.

So, it's a simple enough piece of kit, is small enough to slip down the back of a backpack (when cool, and maybe even rinsed off). It not only gives you a contained fire-pit, and a chimney for rapid charcoal lighting.

The fact that the handle melted and caught on fire was a bit distressing, but it's loss has been inconsequential to its ongoing use. One thing to note is hat they do rust, especially after firing. This has made the hinges a bit stiff, but a dose of WD40 should fix that. I've thought of painting the whole thin with a fire-tolerant paint but its probably unnecessary. I might cut some notches into the upper lip to give my skewers some purchase but again, not essential by any means.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wish-Lust: Go Outfitters UnderQuilt.

Here's a pre-emptive Kickstarter post for the new project by GO! Outfitters, who bought us one of my favorite camping hammocks, the  asymmetrical GO! Hammock  
and the outer-shell for it, the Apex Camping Shelter & Hammock Camping Tarp and the upcoming, and freshly released Kickstarter Project, the Adventure Under Quilt: Hammock Camping Insulation. 

The idea of the UnderQuilt is to ensure that the underside of the  hammock sleeper stays toasty warm. As more people are switching from tent camping to hammock camping. they are coming across an unusual phenomenon; they often find that their backsides can get cold fast, because it's exposed cool air and wind. Some people use sleeping bags in hammocks but the insulation gets compressed and doesn't work as it would on the ground.

Others sleep on sleeping pads, but keeping them in place can be a nightmare in a hammock. They slide around and bunch up inside the walls of  the hammock, and can be far from comfortable. The UnderQuilt adds a layer of insulation to the outside of the hammock, freeing up the internal space, which is at a premium, as well as adding an extra layer of weather-proofing.

Filled with  100% Polyester Max Loft 10° Insulation.  but we have set the Temperature Rating of the quilt conservatively at 20°F). plenty warm enough for anywhere  I would want to camp in a hammock, to be sure. with a
210T Ripstop Polyester, Calendered, Water and Wind Resistant Shell Fabric and
210 Polyester, Breathable Liner Fabric not that it matters greatly as you won't be touching the liner, as the whole thing sits under the skin of your hammock. Designed with their own Hammocks specifically in mind, but will suit any gathered-end hammock, thanks to the ingenious cinching self-locking drawstrings and built in attachment systems, the UnderQuilt will suit up to a 7' user. 

It is 81 long and " 52" wide, and comes with its own weatherproof stuff-sack packing down to a mere  1lb. 9oz. (Includes: Under Quilt, Compression Stuff Sack, 2 Carabiners, and Built-In Shock Cord Suspension rig) all in a  8" diameter  x 10" long bundle.

I really like the idea of this, and hope to back it myself, for those rare camping trips I get  to take. Winter is coming, and I'm a skinny kind of guy at the best of times, and my bony ass needs all the warmth I can give it.   Do check out the deals on their Kickstarter page, the bundles would make an excellent way of starting your own hammock camping collection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review

So it seems someone signed me up for Recoil's OFFGRID. Awesome surprise when I got home. Review to follow. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: khukri

One of the first "real" pieces of weapon-steel I ever bought for myself was a khukri that I purchased on-auction back in 1997, with wages from a part time job I had at the time. It was a WW2 era Gurkah blade and was only listed as a "good" condition, but that was good enough for me!

The khukri is a traditional knife design from Nepal, where it is as much a piece of farm equipment, or household knife as it is a weapon. It fills the same niche as the machete does in the America's or Africa. It's a simple, uncomplicated blade that is up to the task of rugged, daily rural use.

Read the rest here on Breach Bang Clear! 


They still work just fine and in fact, effortlessly bit into this beam, and I felt that in 5 or 6 chops, I could have parted it. Typically khukri's have a partial tang, which is burned into the wooden handle and glued in with pitch. I can tell you, that at 60+ years old, this blade was hungry for chopping, with not a wiggle or shake.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Talkin' Strayin! (Aussie Slang, A through D)

So, some of you readers may have noticed a slight antipodean lilt to my writing's accent. It's not all con. I spell aluminium and colour weird, and you should wait till you hear me talk! I confuse people all over the world, with my mixed up spoken vernacular and messed up "vaguely "not from roun' here accent.... that said, I feel maybe I can add something to common understanding, and perhaps improve international relations by offering a quick overview of some of the more colourful idioms of common Australian conversation you might come across if you get stationed with some, or even just shoulder up to one of our innumerate backpackers at a bar somewhere cheap and dingy ...

Now, Australians are renowed for being fairly potty-mouthed, and I hope you're adult enough to handle rude word on the internet. if not, go check out the fun kids on 4Chan, but the key is that its all in good context (we hope).

First up: "Ozzies" vs "Aussies." It's pronounced like OZZY OSBOURNE, not HOUSE_EEEEE or AHHHWWW-SEEEE

I'm going to cover some simpler terms and phrases that may confuse and conflate your communications, then explain and use them in context.

Agro: aggravated (abbreviated). "Hey don't get all agro with me mate, not my fault you didn't pack wet weather gear."
Arvo: afternoon (abbreviated). "Hey Cheer up rain should clear by tomorrow arvo!"
Average: sub-standard. Poor performance. Sarcasm. "Thanks mate, the forecast has been pretty average this whole trip."
Bags: to call claim on, like dibbs. "Chicken's here. Bags the drumsticks!"
Battler: an underdog struggling on regardless. "Get a load of these poor battlers. Cold, wet, miserable, and not a Nintendo DS amongst them."
Boff: to have casual sex. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around."
Bottl-o: abbreviation of Bottle-shop, a Liquor store. "Let's swing past the bottle-o on the way and grab some beers for the party, mate."
Bogan: a uncouth and uncultured ruffian (from Boggan, a kind of troll/gnome). "Man, the bottle-o was full of bogans, huffing paint."
Bloody: an verbal amplifier. "That wasn't just a good concert mate, it was bloody brilliant!"
Bloody brilliant: very good. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around. It was bloody brilliant!"
Barbie: a BBQ grill (charcoal or gas), or the act of cooking at one at a party. "Bloody brilliant barbie, mate. We're just gonna swing past the bottle-o for some more beers."
Bastard: a person who is unliked or unlikable. They may also be a dear friend or no relation at all. May also be an insult to someone being a prick. "Look at all these bastards, trying to merge into the off-ramp. Some poor bastard must have had a bingle up ahead in all the rain. And there's this bastard. Leaning out to take pictures on his bloody phone...get yer head in, ya' soppy cunt."
Bunnings Sausage sizzle: Bunnings, a big hardware/lumber chain, puts on sausage BBQs for local charities. For a "gold coin" ($1/$2) you can get a sausage, and sauce on a slice of buttered white bread. Grilled onions and soft drinks extra. Makes a weekend hardware crafting run a dining experience. "After Davo's piss-up barbie on Friday night we had to swing past Bunnings to replace the busted lawn chairs. Sausage sizzle was lifesaving hangover cure, mate."
Bludge: to be lazy and skate or shirk work or effort. Often in relation to the unemployed. "That bludger say he can't work because of his back but I saw him playing footy." It's a serious insult to call someone a bludger, suggesting they're shirking duty or leaving others to do the work, which is rather in-Australian.
Barrack: to support or cheer for a side. To "root" has a different meaning to Aussies. "I started off barracking for the Bulldogs like my dad but they're crap so I switched to the Mighty Magpies. They're doing bloody brilliant this season."
Cobber: a guy, a dude, a fella. "That cobber is a true blue battler. Right as rain he is."
Chuck: to vomit. "After the piss-up at Tommo's I didn't think I'd ever eat again. I even chucked when we drove past the Bunnings Sausage Sizzle."
Chucking a na-na: - temper tantrum. From baNA-NA . "The Sergeant Major chucked a right na-na after his dog ran in front of the convoy. Squashed flat it was."
Chucking a wobbly: see chucking a na-na .
Chucking / hanging a U-ey: making a U-turn whilst driving. No drifting or bootlegger turns required, but sound effects welcome.
Dag: the matted faecal matter hanging from the back of a sheep. A mild jibe to indicate someone is bit lame or uncool. Suitable for schoolteachers to address wayward kids. Equivalent to Huckleberry or dingleberry. "Take those off, you big dag. Who wears sunglasses inside at night?"
Cunt: derisive insult. Nowhere near as taboo a term in Australian culture as in American. It's still not nice conversation, but not a deadly insult either. "Sure, my dad's a bit of a cunt, but at least he's not a bloody bludger like yours."
Dart: a cigarette. Often hand rolled. "Chuck us a dart mate, I'm off for a smoko."
Dobbing: telling on someone; finking/tattling/ratting on. For personal gain. Viewed with much contempt. "It was a total bludge job mate, right until those dobbers from level seven chucked a wobbly."
Dead set: True, dependable, fixed or sturdy, decided or final. "If you're dead set on crossing the Nullarbor in that junk heap, you might want to chat to Ol' one-eye Joe, first. Fella is a dead-set legend in these parts, mate."
Don't come the raw prawn with me: don't try to fool me in an area I'm experienced in. "I need the carburetor for a 1968 Holden Commodore. Don't come the raw prawn with me, mate, that one's for a 1972 Ford Fairlane".
Democracy sausages: voting in Australia is compulsory. To help reduce the sting of having to waste perfectly good Saturday mornings, it's traditional for polling stations to also host a sausage sizzle and bake sale on election day. "I don't care which of the bastards wins, I got me my Democracy sausage so I'm good for four years."
Dog and bone: telephone. Rhyming slang. "One of those bastards from level seven on the dog and bone again, dobbing on the bludgers from section three. AGAIN. AVERAGE."
Donger: A penis. "She threw him the can, but it was wet from the Esky, right? So I slipped it and it got him right on the donger, pinned him to the chair it did, thought he mighta spewed right there at the table."
Drongo: a mild insult, equivalent to a dumbass.
Durry: a cigarette. abbreviated from Dunhill. "give us a fuckin' Durry, ya cunt"
Dry as a dead dingos donger: thirsty. Dingos (the semi-native wild dog) which die of dehydration, often get baked into hairy jerky by the unforgiving Australian sun. "Pass me a beer, mate, this one's as dry as a dead dingo's donger."


And for your further education here is some of the above in play, by contemporary real Australian comedians: Neel Kolhatkar and the Aussie Man....

australia is not racist ..
aussie compliments
aussie insults
australia in 2x minutes
australian media
more australia in 2 minutes

aussie man reviews
aussie man reviews uncovered


(Stay tuned for F-N and M-Z)

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