Knock down, drag out.

A hunting, hiking and backpacking gear blog.

Month: February, 2014

Choosing a pack.

I started out with the ACU Molle Large Rucksack. It’s bombproof. Carries a HUGE load. And can be found for only $50-$80. But is 10lbs and is a hideous camo color not suited for my intended AO (although you can find it now in multicam for about $80). I then decided to cut weight and move to a better camo pattern. So I switched to a 5lb. Gregory Z65 (in a tan color) with a multicam pack cover. That worked well. But when it came to getting all of my winter/cold weather gear in there it fell short a bit. I’m also a big guy at 6’3″. So all of my gear is larger in one aspect or another.

Camo is very important to me. Partly due to my intended AO – woods of the PNW. And being an ex-Marine in a sniper and surveillance platoon. I know the importance of camo. For me (and I know many will differ on this) it’s either one camo pattern or none at all. If you wear multiple camo patterns your always going to be wearing something that doesn’t fit in with your environment. And thus why wear camo at all if your always going to be standing out in your environment. I chose multicam. As it fit my AO. And you can find just about anything you need in that pattern. Which can’t be said for to many other good camo patterns. Even civilian ones. You might find clothes in that pattern but you won’t find the pack and all your pouches and web gear etc. etc. in that one pattern. But with multicam you can do that. You can do that with older Woodland gear – but it’s older gear. And you can do that with ACU gear but the pattern sucks. Multicam is the best of both worlds for me.

So then I purchased both the Eberlestock Dragonfly and the Arteryx Khyber 80. Both in multicam. I picked up the dragonfly because it expands into a massive meat hauler for hunting. But in the end it was another 10lb pack. And I could cut 5lbs with an equally comfortable Khyber 80 from Arcteryx. With enough room to fit all my winter gear. Here’s a long review of that pack that I did a few weeks back:

In the end it’s really a choice of how much room you need, how much weight your willing carry pack wise, and what color is acceptable for your AO. And most important is it fitted to your size torso. To many people don’t realize you need to get fitted for a pack. I suspect many of those carrying the Alice don’t realize it doesn’t really fit them that well. Because it’s not adjustable and comes in a medium size only. Meaning alot of folks that are larger than a medium are carrying all their weight needlessly on their shoulders. Instead of comfortably on their hips. Same goes for any other pack too. You’ve got to get fitted and adhere to that size in order to insure pack comfort. Which in the long haul really matters. Or your going to bash yourself physically for no reason.

Lastly, is cost. Many of us can’t afford packs like this. I would suggest getting fitted and looking at the ILBE. I don’t know it’s size ratings. But it appears to be the best or at least parts of the best of both worlds. It’s a decent camo pattern, it’s heavy but doable, and it has all the bells and whistles of a modern pack – and it’s CHEAP. If I was on a limited budget I would look into the Molle large rucksack in multicam or the ILBE. Both seem to be bombproof packs that will get the job done. Just be ready to carry an extra 5lbs. That might be better suited for ammo, water or food.

There is an old adage that applies here though. “Buy once, cry once”. I’ve learned this the hard way. You get in a hurry to get out there with your latest gear. And so you start buying “what you can afford at the moment”. When you’ll be far better served by waiting, saving up, and getting the gear that you know your going to be happy with. Unless your a real deal hound. And can turn around and sell your old stuff at a profit or equal to what you paid for it. Your going to be disappointed and out more money than if you just bought what was the best gear in the first place.

I hope this helps even one person shopping for a pack. Or any other gear for that matter.


Homemade firesteel handle…

Made my own this weekend. $5 for a .5×5 firesteel. .78 cents for gas line tubing. About 5 cents in paracord. And part of a leftover hacksaw blade.

Here’s a link to the firesteel. Probably the best deal I have seen. Not quite .5×5 but close enough.

Good Big & Tall Polor Fleece jacket!

I’ll give a short review of the Columbia Steens polar fleece jacket in tall. You can pick them up at In sizes up to 6xlt. It’s the only polar fleece that fits me length wise. And the only polar fleece that comes in long besides some poorly made ones at Cabelas. (I picked up two of the Cabelas ones that were on sale a few weeks back. And they suck. The sleeves are gigantic. You could have them tailored. But not worth the hassle IMHO). The Columbia Steens is a much nicer weight polor fleece. Not sure of the exact weight but it’s called “MTR Performance Fleece”. But like I say it’s the only one that fits me big enough. I’m 6’3″ and have a long body. And a 52″ chest. So that gives you size relation right there. I’ve worn mine everyday for over a year now. With no signs of wear. My only gripe is that it won’t fit around my neck. But I have a pretty wide one. I can zip it all the way up. But it’s a little tight. But I may have an 18 or 19 inch neck. So your mileage may be even better. They come in a variety of colors too. You might find them elsewhere in tall. But it’s unlikely. Bigcamo also has a wealth of other big and tall outdoor clothing for men.

Misconceptions and myths about fire steels.

Backpack attachment point without sewing…

Attaches to any fabric surface without sewing or adhesives. 40lbs pull strength. You’ve got to click the length to see how it works.

Spec ops sale!

The Spec-Ops sale is on again for several of their Made in U.S.A. packs. As well as many other items.

T.H.E. packs (Molle/PALS compatible) are $100.
(down from $180, compare ~$177 on

Recon Ruck (ALICE compatible, no frame; limited PALS on sides) are $90.
(down from $140, not listed on


EXTRA 20% off discount code online: “SAVE20” (I just tried it, it works).

With that added discount, the Recon Ruck is only $72, and T.H.E. Pack only $80.

They also carry a multicam AK47 single mag pouch for $12. Not sure how much with discount. But even less.

Cheapest silnylon stuff sacks!

This is the best deal on silnylon stuff sacks I have ever found. An assortment of 6 sacks for $20! They also sell individual sacks.

Seal A Gunshot Wound In 15 Seconds!

It’s like 50 tiny tampons.

The team’s early efforts were inspired by Fix-a-Flat foam for repairing tires. “That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops,” says Steinbaugh. “But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out.”

So the team tried a new idea: sponges. They bought some ordinary sponges from a hardware store and cut them into 1-centimeter circles, a size and shape they chose on a whim but later would discover were ideal for filling wounds. Then, they injected the bits of sponge into an animal injury. “The bleeding stopped,” says Steinbaugh. “Our eyes lit up. We knew we were onto something.” After seeing early prototypes, the U.S. Army gave the team $5 million to develop a finished product.

But kitchen sponges aren’t exactly safe to inject into the body. The final material would need to be sterile, biocompatible, and fast-expanding. The team settled on a sponge made from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance that comes from shrimp shells. To ensure that no sponges would be left inside the body accidentally, they added X-shaped markers that make each sponge visible on an x-ray image.

The sponges work fast: In just 15 seconds, they expand to fill the entire wound cavity, creating enough pressure to stop heavy bleeding. And because the sponges cling to moist surfaces, they aren’t pushed back out of the body by gushing blood. “By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped,” Steinbaugh says.

Getting the sponges into a wound, however, proved to be tricky. On the battlefield, medics must carry all their gear with them, along with heavy body armor. RevMedx needed a lightweight, compact way to get the sponges deep into an injury. The team designed a 30 millimeter-diameter, polycarbonate syringe that stores with the handle inside to save space. To use the applicator, a medic pulls out the handle, inserts the cylinder into the wound, and then pushes the plunger back down to inject the sponges as close to the artery as possible.”

EDIT – Sounds like vaporware –