Sunday, March 09, 2008

New Toys With My REI Dividend

REI dividends are out and this year I managed to rack up $47 worth. I also had a 20% off one item coupon. Today I went over to the local store and spent it (and then some). Anyway, I bought:

I've used the Storm Proof matches for awhile. They burn like mini-flares and will not go out even if you drop them into snow. I once tested this by dropping a lit one into about a foot of snow. It melted its way down to the ground without going out.

The Lightning Nugget fire starters appear to be pine chips that are soaked in paraffin, then formed into hemispheres. The manufacturer claims they'll burn for up to 15 minutes. To use, the instructions on the box tell you to place one on the ground, round side down. Then light it with a match and wait until its going well before placing your kindling on it. I used a bit of Coughlin's tinder (wax-impregnated cotton) ignited with a fire steel to light it. It worked well, and I plan to add two or three Nuggets to my kit, each one wrapped in some aluminum foil to protect them in storage and shield them from damp ground in use.

I've wanted to try one of the Gerber Gator folding saws for awhile now, having read many favorable reviews. (HERE is a pic I took, along with my Victorinox Pioneer for scale.) The blade is fairly thin, which when combined with the plastic handle, makes it very light weight. The teeth are pretty aggressive and designed to cut on the pull stroke. Some reviews I saw on REI's web page reported people breaking the saw. I think what may have happened was that those users tried to cut on the push stroke, bending the blade and wrecking the hinge. However, if used as designed, it looks like it should be fine.

In my brief testing, the Gator cut both hard and soft wood well, requiring less effort to do so than using a large knife would. Using a saw is also a bit safer than hacking away with a big knife. As one part of a modern "Nessmuk trio," one of these makes a lot of sense, in my opinion. Finally, at $15.95, the Gerber is cheaper than most large knives.

Another item which I've had my eye on for a little while is the Open Country folding grill (PIC). Even though it's small, it's easier to cook over an open fire by using a grill than by impaling the food on sticks or putting a vessel right in the fire. The OC Explorer Grid seems well made for the price (about $11) and strong enough to hold a kettle or small pan. It didn't come with any kind of a case, so I'm going to make something up with some scrap denim or muslin. A leg from an old pair of jeans might be big enough. That way, anything it gets packed with after being used will stay clean.

I haven't tried the Mountain House meals yet, and I got the Space Pen just because I thought it was neat.


Mungo said...

I hadn't thought before of making a case out of the leg of an old pair of jeans... I think I'll do that.

Thanks for sharing!


Timbo said...

I bought a space pen because I thought they were neat, and darned if they don't work exactly as advertised. I really like it, and it is my main crossword and "carry" pen.