Category Archives: Outdoor Gear

A Clean Cup of Water, Please: Made in USA

I sometimes joke around about the “zombie apocalypse” and the great excuse it provides in buying yourself the latest guy-toy (I’m looking at you, Tima-Hawk.) However, having  experienced superstorm Sandy and the havoc it caused in the NY metropolitan area, I realize how important it is to be prepared for real-life dangers.

Disclosure: We’ll get a small commission if you buy through the links in this post: Please do!If you’re putting together a bug-out bag, you might want to check out the MSR Trailshot Micro Filter. This little device can filter out over 99.9999% of impurities in water and can fill a liter bottle in about 60 seconds. The filter is replaceable and can be easily stored in you backpack or jacket pocket.

Created for hikers who need to refill along the trail, this device can be useful in any number of situations. As a cyclist there have been a few occasions where I’ve been out on a hot day, water bottle filled with warm energy drink, when I ride past a cold stream. That’s when I would love to be able to pull over and quench my thirst.

So whether you are out there exploring the great outdoors or running from the living dead or the  White Walkers, you should check out the TrailShot.



Brant & Cochran Axe Restoration: Breathing New Life Into Vintage American Axes.

If you’ve been following this blog for any period of time it should come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of axes, wood-splitting and the outdoors in general. I always enjoy finding a new axe artisan and Brant & Cochran is the latest one I’d like to tell you about.

Based in Portland Maine, Brant & Cochran at first specialized in restoring surplus military machinery. It was reborn, so to speak, when Steve Ferguson decided to purchase an American made axe for a godson on his way to forestry school, but couldn’t find one locally. Steve, his brother Mark and friend Barry Worthing decided to bring axe-making back to Maine, even if it was just restoration of vintage axes at first. I’ve learned that if something is well-made it’s definitely worth maintaining so you can pass it along to the next generation. I should know – I have my father’s hatchet which, after years of neglect, is going to hopefully get a second life in the hands of the Brant and Cochran team.The axe heads are carefully restored, given new edges without damaging the blade. Wherever possible, original markings are preserved to maintain the authenticity of the head. New hickory handles are added and, as you can see from the photos above, the axes look like they were just forged.

Speaking of just being forged, look for an Indiegogo program in the next few months as the guys from Brant and Cochran get ready to start their own forge in a converted naval base workshop. The plan is to launch a Maine-made, wedge-pattern boys’ axe with a locally sourced ash handle. (A word from the wife: Kathy doesn’t like the “Boys’ Axe” name and thinks it should be called a “Kids’ Axe” or “Junior Axe” or “Starter Axe,” etc. She says she would have been really mad if her brother got a boy’s axe and there wasn’t one for her – and not a pink one either.)

Whatever they decide to call it, we’re looking forward to seeing it on the market.

Meanwhile, if you are in the market for a “new” axe and want a piece of American manufacturing history, I don’t think you can’t go wrong with an axe from Brant and Cochran.



Dinosaur Bone in Your Pocket Knife: Made in USA

One of the key elements of EDC (everyday carry) is a pocket knife. I can’t tell you how many times, whether at work or working around the home, that I reach for one. Sante Fe Stoneworks has  produced a line of limited edition pocket knives that are totally functional but uniquely beautiful. The knives feature Southwestern-influenced  handles made from ironwood, turquoise and, yes, locally harvested dinosaur bone. (Note: the link takes you to a full page of products from Santa Fe Stoneworks. The Made-in-USA items have a little logo to the left.)hw6wkwx9vo_3_damascus-dinosaur_bone_amber_single_0_original

This 3″ Damascus steel blade is accented with Amber and actual Brontosaurus bone.2uo5zipc24_3_damascus-ironwood_turquoise_0_originalThe knife above features turquoise and ironwood, which is a local wood to the Santa Fe area, said to capture the colors of the region.dhoy7z4lpp_3_damascus-kaleidoscope-natural_wood_zig_zag_0_originalThe knife above features a Kaleidoscope Natural Wood zigzag pattern.ytl3qmrelf_3_damascus-woolly_bone_turquoise_0_originalThe Wooly Bone and Turquoise knife features you guessed it, actually bone from a Wooly Mammoth.

Japanese steel us used to make the blades, but on these knives, the rest of the work takes place in Santa Fe.



8 Hammocks and a Couple of Hammock Stands: Made in the USA

Updated June 29, 2016.  One of my favorite things to do on a summer day is to grab a book or my iPad and head out to my hammock. OK, so, I also have a drink, a pillow and a few other things, but in the end, it is me lying around peacefully looking up at the tree canopy and allowing myself a few hours of quiet. There is still plenty of summer left so I suggest that, if you don’t already have one, you look at these manufactures and get thee to a hammock!

We have also included a few hammock stands just because they are so much easier than planting two perfect trees and waiting for them to grow.HummingbirdHammockHummingbird Hammocks, are hand made in Denver, CO from lightweight parachute material.obxOuter Banks Hammocks offer the traditional rope hammock along with a variety of other materials.5d4dfe7a3019e6fb3e3d0f4ef1fac320Anna’s Hammocks are made in Southwest Michigan and feature spun nylon that is water repellant. The hammocks come with tree straps for easy set-up and more time to kick back and relax.hatteras-hammocks-deluxe-duracord-rope-hammock-oatmeal-xHatteras Hammocks offers both beautiful handmade hammocks and this Roman Arch cypress stand.appalachianoriginalThe Appalachian Hammock is an easy-to-carry design that sets up quickly with Tree Hugger Straps (see below).

twinoaksTwin Oaks has been making hammocks in Virginia since 1967.

coopers_750I really love the nautical flair of the Deckhand Man hammock. The beautiful hammock at the top of the page is also from them.

treehuggerAnother simple carry-along hammock from Tree Hugger.

hattarasNot everyone has the perfect pair of trees but a stylish stand like this Roman Arch really makes a statement.

boonedoxThe hammock stand above from Boonedox breaks down easily for the go-anywhere explorer.hatteras-hammocks-hammock-canopy-forest-green-x

If you do not have trees to provide shade, there is this option from Pawleys Island Hammocks.

strap_optRaven Designs Adjustable Hammock Straps provide portability while giving the tree a break from lag bolts and hooks.



Long Bow: Made in USA

When I was very young a number of my best friends owned BB guns.  My parents wouldn’t buy me one because, as you all know from A Christmas Story, “you’ll shoot your eye out.” So imagine my surprise when they let me buy a Ben Pearson recurve bow!

So the other day when I was checking out some of my favorite sites I was thrilled and a little nostalgic to see Best Made offering an American Long Bow.


Now I was extremely fortunate growing up that we had an expanse of woods behind our home so if I did miss the target there was plenty of space between our home and the ones behind us. So make sure if you purchase the bow you have a safe place to use it.


The Best Made American Long Bow is made from a hickory core laminated with black fiberglass. These bows are simple, no pulleys, sights or counterweights. It is just you and the bow and arrow in search of the perfect shot!