Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I recently wrote about Guyot Designs' excellent MicroBites utensil set. I'm a big fan also of their revised Splashguard for widemouth water bottles, I've purchased 4 additional Splashguards in the past 2 months. At about $3.00 each, there's no excuse to not have one in every bottle I own, my favorites are the Terra Camo and the Skull & Bones. I recently got the opportunity to play with another innovative outdoor product from the folks at Guyot Desings; Squishy Bowls.
The Squishy Bowl set consists of a 16 oz. bowl and a 6 oz. "cup", though either size has a multitude of uses. They are made from food-grade silicone, like the Splashguards and smash flat for easy packing. This is a convenient way to ensure you have something to eat out of on the trail, and paired with a MicroBites set, a person would be all set to enjoy a meal outdoors, in the car, or on the boat. The color shown here is Tomato, though other colors are available. Light as a feather, the set weighs only 5 oz. together. I was impressed by the resiliency of these bowls. Smash them down, twist them, throw them in your pack under heavy gear, no problem, they pop back into their original shape. Squishy Bowls are temperature resistant, so you can enjoy hot or cold foods with no worries. I could see these being used by military folks, boaters and people who spend a lot of time driving; like me. There's really no limit to the uses for the Squishy Bowl set. They fit beautifully in my 511 Tactical PUSH pack, smashed in with my deodorant spray, $10 in quarters, a 16 oz. energy drink, a Leatherman and a clean spare shirt, along with all my other almost-everyday-carry stuff. I was even able to "fold" the bowl set and jam it into the tiny front pocket of the PUSH pack, which is not much larger than a woman's wallet.
My cat was eager to test out the Squishy Bowls; she had lunch using the 16 oz. bowl and didn't hesitate to dive right in, that's a good sign. I noticed that this product has no odor, many outdoor products made from synthetics carry chemical smells which are enough to make you dizzy. Right out of the box, no odor on the Squishy Bowls. These are even portable enough to put in cargo pants pockets, and some shirt pockets. These will definitely accompany me on my yearly trip to Ross Lake in the North Cascades, here in Washington. For this particular trip, we stay in the floating bunkhouses because of tradition, and the fact that many in our party are guys over 75 years old, who need things like bathroom access, running water and a decent bed. But we spend 8-10 hours daily up there, out in 2 man boats with little 9.3 hp motors. My father and I usually pack the lightest out of anybody, bringing one backpack each, and a single medium size cooler with all of our food needs. My dad was excited about the Squishy Bowls for use on his Bayliner. He could use them as unbreakable wine glasses, or take them along for eating his famous mozzarella, basil and tomato salad, and the Guyot MicroBites would definitely be 'two of a perfect pair', to play on King Crimson's 1984 masterpiece album. My sisters have children, and kids are always snacking in the car, Cheerios, cookies you name it! Squishy Bowls make a fun and colorful way for kids to eat in the car, and would save you money on ziploc bags, not to mention the environmental relief of reusing durable products instead of disposing of everything, only to have it end up in a landfill. Guyot Desings is a very environmentally responsible company with solid ethics. Many of their products are Carbon Negative, a step even in a better direction from Carbon Neutral. The bowls are a snap to hand wash @ home, or in the field, just use soap and water, and they don't seem to retain smells or taste from previous meals. I used them to eat some garlic-heavy pasta out in the backyard one night. I left the 16 oz. bowl next to the sink over night. I really expected some pasta-stink to be left, but after I hand washed the bowl with dish soap in hot water, no trace remained. Squishy bowls ARE microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe as well.
Overall, the Guyot Designs Squishy Bowls are an inexpensive product with an incredible range of applications, limited only by your creativity. They are produced by a morally sound company, with full disclosure, who manufactures ethically in select spots overseas. If you want to find out more about Guyot Designs Squishy Bowls and other useful things, check out their SITE
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Here's a cool revised version of a SOG classic. SOG's Fusion line of products, is essentially stuff made in Taiwan or China, instead of Japan or the USA, and is markedly less expensive. From all I have seen, it hasn't changed the general quality that makes SOG knives well known. Probably 90% of factory knife manufacturers have a less pricey line of knives made in Asia somewhere. Though others, like Buck, are starting to return some of their products to USA manufacturing at their new Idaho facility.
I've always liked SOG, probably because they are a local company, from near where I grew up, and they've always been a company to try new things, even if they weren't received well by the knife buying public 100% of the time. The Fusion Micron II tanto is very thin and flat, and hearkens back to classic lockback pocketknives from many makers over the last several decades. It's definitely a new millennium take on an old school style, and that's what attracted me to it initially. Here are the basics:
* Blade Length: 2.25"
* Overall Length: 5"
* Weight: 1.4 oz.
* Edge: Straight
* Steel: 420
* Handle: Stainless steel
* Finish: Black
It's very modern, stealthy and tactical, while still being low profile. The lockback action is solid, with no hint of play or wobble in the blade when locked. My only very minor complaint, is that like so many tanto style blades from many manufacturers who do some overseas products, the blade's grind lines are kind of sloppy, and the edge geometry isn't exactly perfect, but I think that's a symptom of Chinese manufacture, not SOG's reputation. Otherwise this is a very solid little piece, and overall, very high quality for a knife that can be found for under twenty bucks at some online knife shops. If I'm not mistaken, SOG still carry a lifetime warranty on all their products. This little guy fits well into that slightly more PC category of smaller, lighter folders for everyday use, that aren't likely to freak out non-knife-people too much. You never know though, simple minded anti-knife types who love to create drama would probably describe this cute little knife as "black and menacing, with an armor-piercing tip" LOL.
Overall, SOG's Fusion line is shaping up to consistently yield innovative stuff, at a better pricepoint, and for me, it's always nice to support a local company.
The SOG Fusion Micron 2.0 tanto can be seen here along with the rest of the Fusion line, and SOG's other unique knives and tools
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Under $6.00 @ my local fishing/hunting/camping warehouse store. 32 fl.oz. just like the standard widemouth Nalgene pattern, and made of slightly textured Eastman Tritan (the new BPA free material). I tend to prefer widemouth bottles with a splashguard, but I've used narrow ones too, and this canteen has a bit of curve to it so it's easier to hold, I imagine if you're wearing gloves or something for sporting/biking purposes. It really looks considerably smaller than the traditional 32 oz. bottle, but it's just a trick of the bottle's flattened shape, and the narrow cap. I figured I couldn't go wrong for the price, and I'm drinking up to 250 oz. of H2O daily, so it will get used. They come in other colors too Nalgene Outdoor
Monday, July 13, 2009
Just a quickie here guys...I love to look at stuff I can't afford, especially if it looks like it'd be useful in a zombie/home invasion scenario. I don't know much about John Gage, but I know his bladeware looks badass!
Here's the Abaddon at Tadgear.com
Many of Gage's designs seem to bridge the gap between utilitarian fantasy designs and large knives and swords capable of hard real-world tactical use.
Gage's site is here
I hope Mr. Gage won't be pissed that I snagged this pic of his tactical gladius from his site. It's just too cool not to post, and I suppose it's free press for him.
Anyhow, I've been awake way too long and I'm ready to crash out, but check out John Gage's stuff!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
You can bet that with increased societal paranoia and the continuance of political correctness, that we as knife/tool/gun owners will continue to at times, be viewed as different, or even 'weird' by some. This is a shame, because we're always the "go to" guys and girls who people bug when they need a knife, Leatherman, flashlight etc! You name it, they talk their shit, but when they need a knife or tool, we can be relied upon! Growing up as a knife user and collector, I was usually of the mindset that bigger is better, I thought, "hey, if this knife can open mail, or even free me from a stuck seatbelt in an auto wreck, why shouldn't it also have the size or capability to defend life and limb?"
While I generally still do prefer folding knives with blades of bare minimum 3.5", all the way to monster 5" blades, I've learned that discretion can pay off bigtime. Not always, but in a work environment, or around people who don't understand the value of a knife as a tool, small knives can be better. Then again, I've had people freak out in the workplace over a tiny Boker LosBanos Subcom folder with a 2 inch blade! My current occupation sees me dealing with the public in a number of different retail or wholesale environments. I frequently may need to open a package, or get help from any number of my on-person sharp implements. On a daily basis, no matter what I'm doing, I'll always be carrying that mid-to-larger size Benchmade, Spyderco, Kershaw etc folding knife, or any other number of brands. But I DO like to have something I can produce if I get the vibe that someone is going to gasp like an ignorant Nancy if I pull out a bigger knife.
Enter the Buck Bantam I recently procured at a location of a knifeshop where I used to work as a slightly younger man. I paid too much, around MSRP of $18.00, while said knife can be gotten on better online knife sites for around $12.00 USD, which, while I'm poor, 12 or 13 bucks is still nearly as cheap as a handful of gravel.
Let's take a look:
* Blade: 2 3/4" drop point, 420HC Stainless
* Overall length: 3 3/4"
* Weight: 1.5oz
* Handle: Thermoplastic with textured surface (read:zytel, or glass filled nylon)
Buck has made a serious effort to return much of their manufacturing this year, and in the future, to their new facility in Idaho. That's awesome, however this inexpensive little knife is made in China. No big. I buy USA made when I can, but at times, I won't let foreign manufacture dissuade me from making a useful purchase from a company with a great reputation, which is @ least based on US soil.
I can't exactly say I've "used the shit" out of this little Buck yet, but it is getting used, frequently, especially in employment or social situations where clicking out My Benchmade Rukus or 6 inch bladed Cold Steel Ti-Lite might raise some uninformed eyebrows.
Pictured up top there, in Grimace-purple, is the venerable Spyderco Ladybug, a tiny and useful keychain knife. Mine is black and is pictured there with the nail clipper and aforementioned Buck knife. I feel that Spyderco's $20-$30 price for such a tiny knife nearly amounts to highway robbery, but they are quality knives, and Spyderco also makes a far less expensive line of similar knives under their secondary "Byrd Knives" banner. Any of these would be a fine choice for a slightly more politically correct knife in these worried times where people are squeamish about damn near anything which could have potential as a weapon. Though we all know a common ballpoint ink pen or tightly rolled "National Geographic" magazine are both capable of inflicting some serious damage, though nobody gives them a second glance!!! How naive we are as a society!!
Another widely socially acceptable option is any number of Swiss Army style knives. I've always thought Victorinox made/makes the far superior product, though Wenger also comes up with some decent models. It's funny how you can pull out even a larger SAK, with say a 2.5-3inch blade, and nobody really says anything, but the minute a Gerber single-bladed knife is flicked open, people open their stupid mouths about how it's a "weapon", even if the blade is the same size as the comparable Swiss Army, I just don't get it!
Anyhow, that's my rant for now. If anyone needs or wants recommendations on work-friendly, more socially acceptable blades, drop me a line or comment. You really can't go wrong if you stick with established manufacturers who offer some kind of warranty on their stuff; Benchmade, Spyderco, Kershaw, CRKT, Gerber, Buck and so on. And keep in mind that in a traffic stop or legal "misunderstanding" type scenario, Law Enforcement types will likely be more lenient toward knives with blades under three inches long (in MOST jurisdictions).
The newest addition to my collection that falls into the category I've discussed is this little SOG Micron, which is on its way to me this coming week. They run about $18 on better knife retail sites.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Guyot Designs' Squishy bowls review is on the way, probably this week. This looks like a promising, durable and relatively inexpensive product with a ton of applications.
I'll also have a short piece on an inexpensive folding knife from CRKT, the quality of which far exceeds the meager pricepoint.
A visit to my local REI revealed that they are tremendously low in stock on most items (compared to just 2 weeks ago), signaling that the camping/hiking/outdoor industry will always find ways to thrive, even in extreme economic conditions.
I'm looking forward to mid August, when I'll get the chance on an annual fishing trip to evaluate some gear I've been saving, under different conditions, than say, in the backyard, or in the car.