Forget the cheesy, poorly-made pieces of junk sold at your average roadside trading post, which are lamentably what most people think of if they hear the word “moccasin” these days. No, these are the moccasins I’ve been trying to find for a long time:
Clean and simple. Handmade with highly durable American bison leather. A comfy, padded insole and an extra layer of cowhide leather underneath. All they need to be and nothing more, and comfortable as heck.
I wanted a new traditional folding/pocket knife.
My criteria -
- I wanted a two-blade, “Trapper” style folder. In addition to a standard clip point blade, I wanted the knife to have a Wharncliffe-style blade as well, for specific tasks.
- I wanted good quality, but didn’t feel the need to drop a lot of money on a custom.
- I wanted it to be made in the USA.
After some searching, I ended up with a Case Mini-Trapper (model #6207W SS).
The Mini-Trapper hits the mark for my idea of the perfect little pocket knife. It’s 3-1/2″ long, with nickel silver hardware, brass pins and genuine bone scales. The blades are Case’s “Tru Sharp” (6207) stainless steel. Easy to sharpen and they hold a sweet edge. This particular model is called a “sawcut” because the bone scales are rough cut, which gives the knife a nice, “grippy” texture in the hand. The bone on this knife looks and feels great in a way that is hard to convey in a photo.
I would describe the Case Sawcut Mini-Trapper as representative of the “middle of the line” when it comes to Case knives. It is not one of their high-end, limited editions, nor is it one of their base models, which typically run about half the price of this one (and are still a good, less expensive option). Finer details I’ve been impressed with on this knife include excellent alignment of the blades inside the liners when closed, perfect joining of the liners with the scales (no gaps), and a smooth, but crisp, action upon opening/closing.
Founded in 1889, W.R. Case and Sons continues to operate in Bradford, Pennsylvania, making some of the sweetest little knives for the money, in my opinion. Still handcrafted in the USA with pride. Everyone should own a Case pocketknife.
I have hard time believing that there would be anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Red Wing boots. But in case you haven’t here’s a little history:
Around the turn of the 19th century a Red Wing, MN shoe merchant named Charles Beckman saw a local necessity for shoes specifically designed for the demanding work of industries such as mining, logging and farming. The rigors of these jobs required footwear which was tough enough to outlast harsh working conditions, but Beckman envisioned a shoe that was also comfortable enough for the hardworking people who wore them. Beckman set out to develop work boots to fill this need and in 1905 he and fourteen investors opened a company that would change the market. Beckman named his company Red Wing Shoes, and thus a new standard for excellence was born.
The Red Wing Company has acquired several other brands over the years, including Irish Setter and Vasque. In the process these affiliates have focused on particular niches that compliment each other – Red Wing sticking primarily to work shoes, Irish Setter focusing largely on hunting styles, and Vasque producing a variety of general outdoor/hiking/backpacking footwear.
More recently, Red Wing also introduced their “Heritage” line, focused on reproducing many of their most popular historical styles, to a very high production standard. This includes details such a striple waxed-thread stitching, Goodyear welts, and high-grade leathers, handmade in the USA. I own the Heritage Style #8146 pictured below (as well as a pair of #8196):
A boot built to these standards, by real craftsmen in the USA, is not an inexpensive boot. But as with so many other items listed on this site, there is a direct correlation between what you pay and what you get. I can say with no exaggeration that putting a pair of these on your feet is experiencing how a real, quality boot was made 80 years ago, before outsourcing and cutting corners lamentably became the norm. The quality has to be experienced to be believed. The #8146 also comes with a re-soleable, Vibram lug sole. For all of the aforementioned reasons, I have supreme confidence that I will own these boots for a long, long time.
And while we’re at it, check out this very cool video profiling the stitching machines that Red Wing has been using for the past 80 years:
My favorite quote:
“We keep using what works. You don’t throw it away, you keep using it and improve it. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed a whole lot – the history is passed on.”
For more information on the history and details of craftsmanship of Red Wing Heritage boots, go here.
I picked up one of these sweet little DLT ‘Bushcraft AP (All Purpose)’ sheaths a while back, and felt that it was a worthy item to share with Classic Gear readers. Nothing revolutionary here, just a stout little leather pouch, built to withstand the elements. The thick leather sheath measures 4″ x 2″ and is the perfect size for all sorts of small items, such as fire or sharpening kits, a multi-tool or your favorite folding knife.
It is available in standard leather, or with the ‘EEP” (Extreme Environmental Protection) treatment, which makes it impervious to water and harsh weather. Personally, I think the extra $10 for the EEP version is worth it. I have several EEP sheaths, and this treatment really takes the durability of leather to a whole new level.
With the grommets, this sheath can also “piggyback” onto other sheaths. A useful and versatile piece of gear.
The DLT ‘Bushcraft AP’ sheath is made by Sharpshooter Sheath Systems in Escanaba, MI.
American Leathers is a small, family-owned business based in Idaho. They produce exceptional gloves and armguards for traditional archers and bowhunters.
I purchased a “Big Shot” archery glove from them about a year and a half ago, opting for the elk leather model. It has proven to be the best shooting glove I have ever owned. Of course, “best” is a highly subjective word, so let me explain why “best” in this case comes down to two primary factors for me:
Durability – This glove has served me through thousands of shots over the past year +, and I can honestly say that this glove is merely worn in, not even close to being worn out. Not all leather is created equal, and it is evident that American Leathers doesn’t just pick any old scrap to build their gloves, nor do they build them with cost-cutting in mind. Great attention is paid to glove assembly, based on thickness, grain and other inherent characteristics of various parts of the hide. In addition, the nylon tips haven’t begun to fray at all in this time. They continue to provide an extremely smooth, flawless release.
Fit: The folks at AL encourage the buyer to fax in a tracing of their hand. This way, they can ensure that the glove will fit the buyer’s hand perfectly. Expect that the glove will feel a little snug at first – it should. But with use, like all good leather, it will stretch and conform to the contours of your hand until it feels like it was custom-made for you. I have found no awkward seams, or pinch points with this glove at all, as I have experience with some other, cheaper gloves. Another key detail – the wrist strap is deliberately angled to pull the glove on to your hand and keep it snug, rather than developing a loose, sloppy fit over time. It’s this sort of attention to detail that has sold me on the Big Shot glove.
I have used a number of leather gloves with nylon stalls by other manufacturers in the past, and none of them have lasted more than a few months of frequent shooting without the tips starting to fray, the seams starting to part, etc. And none of them have proven to have the excellent fit and comfort of my Big Shot glove. Based on past experience, I would have gone through a couple lesser gloves in the past year, and the Big Shot shows no signs of wearing out any time soon. As a result, despite the higher initial cost, this glove has turned out to be a great value in the long run.
American Leathers offers several other options, include a full-coverage glove, bison and cowhide versions, and a neoprene glove (for bowfishing and really wet conditions). They also offer a nice kid’s glove/armguard combo for a very reasonable price (<$25). If you have a young, aspiring archer, do yourself a favor and purchase this high-quality combo, rather than the typical cheap junk found in big box sporting stores.
For those interested in learning more, there is a great profile of the American Leathers crew, and the extent of their fine attention to detail, in the Dec ’12/Jan ’13 issue of Traditional Bowhunter magazine.
All American Leathers products are handmade with pride in the USA.
(By the way, all American Leathers products should be occasionally treated with Montana Pitch Blend leather treatment)