Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Juniper Ridge - Desert Cedar Backpacker's Cologne.

Dubbed as "Snapshots of life on the trail" Juniper Ridges Field Lab Series of colognes, oils and perfumes are really just that. Hand picked by a group of outdoors-men and women with the knowledge of what plants will make amazing scents. The clippings are gathered and brought to their awesome Econoline Van that holds their converted Essential Oil still, that in another life was made for producing whiskey. Usually showcasing their distilling methods at farmers markets or local street festivals around the area that they have collected the flora.

I was privileged to be able to try out their "Desert Cedar Backpackers Cologne". Sent to me by good buddy Obi Kaufmann, one of the folks behind Juniper Ridge, an artist, and the mastermind at Coyote and Thunder. As I scrambled to open the box à la the Nintendo 64 kid, I gave a spritz to the room. The first note you smell is the dry, clean, warming smell of cedar. I am not sure if there is a blend of EO in this cologne, but from what I can pick out is that there seems to be a hint of a citrus, just a hint. The citrus might just be from the cedar however, as they both have that same effect on my "scent palette".

Regardless of what exact scents their is a blend of, you are left with a fantastic scent that has quite long wearing. I have been wearing this cologne steadily for 5 days now, and I am still rewarded with the woodsy aroma every time I take a deep breath through my nose. Seeing as wearing a cologne that smells like smoke and B.O. would also probably remind me of being on long wilderness trips, I think my wife, friends and co-workers probably would not enjoy that blend of scents on a daily basis. Juniper Ridge on the other hand has perfected capturing the riveting scents that we enjoy while backpacking, canoeing, or just hanging out in the woods, and done so with an amazing hands-on experience that can teach people about their local plants and their uses in making fresh aromatics. Please swing by Juniper Ridges site and pick yourself or your loved one's up a bottle of these limited edition scents. They really, really are something else.

Econoline and Whiskey Turned EO still.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

D.Y. / Woods Canada Renewed Canoe Packs PT.2

Fresh 9 oz leather straps for hauling heavy gear.

Here are the last two of the Vintage Woods Canada Canoe packs that I have refurbished from a Muskoka Summer camp, Just to refresh, They have been stripped of old leather, cleaned, fabric repairs done, and new heavy dudty lether added as well as a tumpline. The first (No.02) is still available, pics can be seen here. These packs are getting harder to find as they never give up. Shoot me a email to purchuse. To see if the pack you are intrested in has been sold please visit the "Trading post" on the right.

Amazing original spiral repair. ( No. 03 )

Original No.100 stencil.  (No. 03) 

Ready for adventure  (No. 03)

The No. 200 below with side axe holder turned out great. Instead of the original vinyl that ripped and tore, I used veg tanned leather treated with Obenauf's LP. Alittle more traditional, it should last twice as long. This project was a blast, seeing these bags take shape and become completely useable was fantastic. They really will be able keep up once again with the roughest of adventurer.

(No.04) SOLD

Original No.200 Stencil (No.04) SOLD

Axe holder (No.04) SOLD

(No.04) SOLD

Original leather patch  (No.04) SOLD

Heavy duty canoe pack.  (No.04) SOLD

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Field Test: The 180 Stove.

Its time to take a look at another wood burning camp stove and put it through its paces. This time we have the Colorado made and invented 180 Stove. Made from 304 stainless, this tough, sturdy stove comes to us from the 180 Tack Co. The compact nature of this stove allows it to be even stored in your back pocket. If I had to put it in a comparable size, I would say that the 180 stove is about the size of two decks of cards laid side by side when collapsed. Weighting in at 10.4oz. the 180 stove is a touch heavier than the last stove we tested (the Littlbug Jr.), but it also has a fairly large cooking area at 7” X 6” which is probably the reason for that extra weight.

When you take the stove out of its heavy mil plastic bag you will see all the pieces nestle together to form a ½” thick package, with a slim chance for any pieces to go missing. Set up is a breeze, and with only 6 pieces it comes together is seconds. In order to assemble the user connects the two sidepieces to the back panel via some tabs, then slip the sturdy cross bars into their tabs on the side panels. The stamped or laser cut “180 stove” on the side panels act as air flow ports allowing ample air to fuel the fire. When you have the stove all fitted together properly it forms damn near solid box that can handle the heaviest of pots, go ahead throw your cast iron on there, it can take it.

Again I will mention that like all these thin stainless stove there is of course a slim chance of cutting yourself on an edge, so please be careful. Unlike the past two stoves showcases the 180 stove basically makes compact fire pit. You build you fire on the ground and the 180 stove acts like a grate, but also adding the bonus features of wind protection. The front of the 180 allows for incredibly easy access to adding fuel to the fire, the large opening can handle large pinecones and decent size sticks with no problem. Even allowing for extra long stick to be fed in as the unburned portion just rests on the ground.

Lighting the stove is as easy as all the rest. Its all in the sticks you choose, starting with small twigs and pine branches I moved to pencil and permanent marker size sticks, quite quickly getting the heat you need to boil some water or cook some foot. When I was doing the testing I was using my 1 litre Zebra billy can, and as you can see from the pictures that the cooking surface of the 180 stove is much larger than the pot, I think this is the only down side of this cooking set up, as I feared I was loosing a lot of heat around the pot. Now if I was cooking with a shallower wider pot I am sure the boil time would have been shortened exponentially.  So now that I think about it its not so much of the stoves problem, but more of that the user would have to possible tweak there set up to get maximum efficacy. Also with that being said and like I mentioned in other posts that I am in no rush while camping, boil time is not that important to me. I just found that the issue is that the extra loss of heat meant that I had to gather more sticks to be burned in order to bring that water to a boil.

Another good point about the 180 stove is that even if you had just your standard fire pit at the campsite, no need to make a separate fire just to cook. The durable natural of the stainless steel allows you to rest the 180 directly into your main fire and cook there (perhaps off to the side, but still).

The 180 stove is a solid choice for outdoor cooking, it provide the user with the ability to have a larger cooking surface for large pots and keep a even heat across the bottom. This is a great option of people looking to use bio fuel for group outings and trips. For its lightweight it sure is a sturdy stove, and the windscreens functions beautifully.  I also really like the fact that this bad boys packs down into a rectangle. Easy to store and its simple shape does not gobble up more room than it needs. 180 Tack also has a separate ash / snow pan for the 180 for users who do not want to scorch the earth or cook in the wintertime.

I just want to say thank you to Curt Linville from 180 Tack for the opportunity to try the 180 stove out and to experience the ease in which this stove can adapt from small cooks to full on fire box. You can pick the 180 stove directly at 180 Tack or in Canada at Bushcraft Canada.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tom Thomson - 95th Anniversary.

Thomson on Lake Scugog.

In a couple of days marks the 95th anniversary of Canadian artist Tom Thomson mysterious death (July 8th, 1917) on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. There is plenty of theories and ideas behind his death, and it is amazing that 95 years later it really is still a mystery. Below I have cited some Wiki that puts forth some of the theories behind his death.

"Thomson disappeared during a canoeing trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917 and his body was discovered in the lake eight days later. The official cause of death was accidental drowning, but there are still questions about how he actually died. It was reported that there was fishing line wrapped around his leg and he had a head injury (which may have been post mortem). It has also been speculated that he was murdered by a German-American neighbour, Martin Blecher, Jr., or that he fell on a fire grate during a drunken brawl with J. Shannon Fraser, owner of Canoe Lake's Mowat Lodge, over an old loan to Fraser for the purchase of canoes. Thomson allegedly needed the money for a new suit to marry Winnifred Trainor, whose parents had a cottage at Canoe Lake. Rumours circulated following his drowning that she was pregnant with Thomson's child. Winnifred Trainor made a trip to Philadelphia with her mother the following winter and returned around Easter. She never spoke about her relationship with Thomson. A nephew, Terrance Trainor McCormick, an upper New York resident who inherited her estate, which included at least 13 small Thomson paintings and letters, said the letters confirm their engagement. McCormick has refused to produce the letters for scholarly investigation. Others believe that Thomson, who produced at least 63 landscape paintings that last spring, many of which he gave away or discarded, suffered severe depression and drowned himself. There is also the speculation that he was killed by poachers within the park, many still existed for years after the creation of the park and were known to get violent when the possibility of being exposed was present. He was buried at Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 17, 1917, without family members having seen the body. Under the direction of his older brother, George Thomson, the body was exhumed two days later and re-interred in the family plot beside the Leith Presbyterian Church on July 21. None of these theories are conclusive, and the wide range of speculation serves mostly to perpetuate Thomson's romantic legend."

Enjoy some of these pictures for the man himself.