The DLT ‘Bushcraft AP’ Pouch

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.

DLT’s ‘Bushcraft AP’ Sheath with EEP Finish.

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.



The Canteen Grill Top Stove

This is a great little item I came across a while back. I love it because it’s really simple, packable and does what it’s designed to do quite well. The Canteen Grill Top Stove is exactly what the name suggests, and it takes an old, standard-issue piece of GI gear and greatly improves its durability and versatility. Made of heavy-gauge stainless steel, but still lightweight. No moving parts to wear out, break or lose. Just a solid, smart mini-grill that nests perfectly on the outside of a canteen cup.

Build a fire underneath, and you’ll have boiling water in a few minutes. Or, set it over a small alcohol stove, such as the Trangia Spirit Burner. You can also grill directly on top of it, and with a little creativity, you can probably come up with a number of other camp uses for the Canteen Stove.

The Canteen Grill Top Stove fits perfectly on the outside of a canteen cup, making for a compact water bottle, cup/bowl and cooking unit.

Canteen, cup and stove.

The Grill Top Stove at work.

…and the Soup du Jour.

All in all, a pretty useful piece of kit for $20.00.

The Canteen Stove is made in the USA and is available at the Canteen Shop, along with many other camping and “buggin’ out” supplies.


The Tru-Nord Compass

There are a number of small, pin-on type compasses available that may, at first glance, appear similar to the Tru-Nord, but as with much of the best classic gear, the devil is in the details. This is by far the best I’ve found, for a number of reasons.


The Tru-Nord Pin-On Compass Model# 200C

– Each Tru Nord is precision CNC machined from a solid piece of 1-1/16″ brass bar stock.

– The jeweled movement floats on a polished, tapered pinnacle, covered by a Lexan® lens (no internal fluid to develop bubbles over time, or leak, as virtually all cheap compasses do).

– The brass cover ring is threaded to the brass case for a watch-type seal, making the compass truly water and shock resistant.

– When you order a Tru-Nord from the company, they will automatically compensate the compass to your zip code (unless you request otherwise), in order to provide a corrected “Grid North” for map navigation. And they will re-compensate it for you, if you send it back to them, if you are going somewhere distant with a different correction.

– The pin-on model offers a far more secure and durable attachment than the flimsy pins I’ve seen on just about every other pin-on type compass.

– A lifetime replacement warranty – “regardless of circumstance.”  From the founder, Vern Budlong, “I want this to be your compass for life.”  That’s the sort of simple, straightforward commitment that earns our respect.

Tru-Nord compasses are available in pin-on, watchband, keyring and simple “pocket” versions. Tru-Nord compasses have been manufactured in Brainerd, Minnesota since the company was founded over 60 years ago. I can say without hesitation that Tru-Nord is another product that perfectly exemplifies why I started this blog – simple, rugged, reasonably priced, made to consistently high standards by people who care and, even better – made in the USA.

Tru-Nord Link

The Trail Blazer Bucksaw

I am so thoroughly impressed with this product, from every possible angle, that it gets and “11” on my scale of 1 – 10.

It embodies everything I admire in a piece of outdoor gear:

It’s beautifully simple.

It’s well made, well thought-out and durable.

It does the job it’s designed for flawlessly.

When not in use, it’s compact and light and easy to strap to a backpack, bike, or whatever your preferred method of travel is.

It represents a great value for the investment ($30-$40)

Considering all of the above, I don’t know what more you can possibly ask from a piece of gear.

The Trail Blazer in action.

Once again, the beauty is in attention to the right details. The blade is tough, sharp Swedish steel. The tension rod is flattened at the end, so there is no chance of losing the wingnut. And once it’s all assembled and tightened, it is solid.

The only personal modifications I’ve made to my Trail Blazer are the addition of a little grip tape to the handle, and a bright piece of cord to the retaining clip, which could be easy to misplace otherwise.

Trail Blazer bucksaws are made in Canada, and are available in 18″ and 21″ models. To find out more about everything Trail Blazer Outdoor Products has to offer, go to this link.

Bark River Knife Follow-Up

I can’t say I hadn’t been warned. In fact, I was warned by every one I knew who owned a Bark River knife.

“Careful. You won’t be able to own just one,” they said.

“They are extremely addictive,” they advised.

Dammit. They were right. The addiction continues with the addition of a Bark River “Little Caper.”

Bark River ‘Little Caper’ with impala horn scales and red liners.

At an overall length of 5.7″ the Little Caper is a “three finger” knife, meaning that for most people, your normal grip on the knife will be with your thumb and first three fingers. Or alternately, thumb on top of the spine, and first three fingers on the grip.  A knife that you can’t get your entire hand around might seem a little dubious at first, but for many finer tasks, I really prefer smaller knives with this type of grip, and have never found it to be less than secure. The Little Caper, with a slight trailing point, is a really fantastic slicer that enables precision control of the 2.7″ A-2 steel blade. But with a blade thickness of .170″ this isn’t a thin, flimsy blade by any means, or a knife narrowly-limited only to fine slicing tasks. I have found it to be a handy EDC, and/or a perfect piggy-back knife to a larger hunting knife of choice. Combined with my extremely versatile and capable BKRT “Canadian Special” pictured below, there isn’t much I can’t do.

BRKT “Little Caper” next to a matching “Canadian Special” (r.), and my piggyback sheath setup.

In my last post, I mentioned that it was the middle of winter, and that I hadn’t been able to really get out and use these knives extensively yet. Well now I have. I’m not going to bore you with 18 consecutive pictures documenting every stage of making shavings with these knives, or batoning (a rather over-hyped test of a knife in my opinion). No, I’m not here to prove anything. Suffice to say I’ve sliced, chopped, shaved and yes, even batoned (with the larger models) of these knives and have been nothing less than totally impressed through all of it. Yes, these are beautiful knives. And more importantly – these are knives that are made to be used hard. You can trust me on this, or find out for yourself by picking up a Bark River knife. I know few people who haven’t been seriously impressed.

Another item I would like to bring to your attention in this follow-up is the KSF Pocket Sheath that I recently picked up. At first I was a little dubious of how frequently I would actually use a pocket sheath, but I find that I’m liking it more and more. This particular model is called the ‘Allegheny,’ and KSF makes several other models/sizes. The Allegheny fits my Bark River Woodland Special (overall length 6.8″) perfectly, with an extra pocket for a firesteel, mini-flashlight, etc. It comfortably fits in either a front, back or cargo pants pocket, or the pocket of a coat, and it’s great for those short jaunts in the woods where you just like the security of knowing you have a few essentials with you (and  really, when don’t you want that?). It’s also great for longer treks, where the waistbelt of a pack might interfere with a belt knife. The sheaths will obviously fit many other makes of knives as well. All KSF pockets sheaths are made of stout leather and are built to last.  Available at Knives Ship Free.

KSF ‘Allegheny’ Pocket Sheath, pictured with Bark River Woodland Special and a fire steel.

As mentioned previously, all Bark River knives are handmade in the USA, as are KSF sheaths. And yes, I’m already lusting after a couple more Bark River knives. In fact, there aren’t many other knives that interest me anymore. This is bad…

Bark River Knives

For many years the Marble’s company was distinguished for making solid, domestically-produced outdoor knives. Well-known knifemaker Mike Stewart (former CEO of Blackjack Knives) was the VP in charge of Marble’s knife production from 1997 to 2001. He designed a number of their most successful recent models during his time there.

When Marble’s made the dubious decision to shift their production overseas, Mr. Stewart decided it was time to move on and start his own company; to produce knives the way that he felt it should be done, and to do so domestically.  Thus, the Bark River Knife and Tool company was born.

Bark River ‘Woodland Special’ (left) & ‘Mike Stewart Custom Hunter’ shown with a Bark River firesteel and KSF sheath.

I have admired Bark River knives from afar for quite some time before finally deciding that I needed to find out firsthand why so many people rave about them. It didn’t take long before one Bark River knife purchase turned into two. Given that it’s the middle of winter in the northern Rockies right now, I haven’t had a great deal of opportunity to use these knives outdoors extensively yet (but that will change soon…). However, after receiving the two models pictured above, and using them indoors quite a bit and some outdoors as well, I have no misgivings whatsoever about how they will perform under hard use. Both are flawlessly executed, and are clearly made to stand up to whatever serious work you intend to throw at them, with well thought-out ergonomics and stout, A-2 steel blades. They are the perfect combination of simple beauty, exceptional workmanship and rugged practicality. You most certainly get what you pay for (if not more so) with a Bark River knife, if not more so.

Bark River “Loveless Drop Point Hunter” in sheep horn with red liners.

Bark River offers a number of different models for just about every outdoor application you can think of, from EDCs, to small caping/slicing knives, hunting knives for all sizes of game, and a variety of bushcraft and survival knives. But don’t mistake them for a big company, cranking out tons of product. These are “semi-custom” knives, and many are only available in certain configurations, in limited numbers, for a finite amount of time. Full custom orders are an option as well.

All Bark River knives are made in Escanaba, Michigan and carry an honest, “no questions asked” lifetime guarantee. For more information, go to Bark River Knife and Tool.

Note Bark River knives are factory sharpened with a convex edge. For those unfamiliar with sharpening a convex, it’s a little different, but really not hard at all. In fact, with a little practice, you might even find it easier than maintaining more common types of grinds. An excellent explanation can be found in this series of videos.

Frost River “Isle Royal Jr.” Bushcraft Pack

I was ideally looking for a pack that would be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, and I can’t remember the last time I deliberated and researched this much before buying a piece of gear. But that’s exactly what I did before making the leap and giving the folks at Frost River a call to order their “Isle Royal Jr.” Bushcraft Pack. I had explored a number of similar, ultimately less worthy, alternatives, before finally reaching the conclusion that nothing else so perfectly embodied what I was looking for. Thankfully, all this deliberation paid off, and my hunch about the excellent quality and usefulness of a Frost River pack was dead-on. In fact, if anything, I had underestimated.

Late season grouse chasing with my Frost River pack.

My FR pack has seen a fair bit of use in the past month – everything from hiking to ski touring to hunting to travel, and I can’t say enough about how well built this pack is. Every single attachment point, buckle and seam has been executed with a level of attention to detail that is very rare to find anymore. The pockets are well thought out and useful, while the overall pack remains purpose-built and uncomplicated.

A few details:

Side view showing lashing, side pocket and leather side strap. Great place to lash a machete, poles, folding saw, etc.

Top view with the pack open, showing the pocket under the top flap and the size of the external pockets – each pocket offering ample room to accommodate a water bottle.

In this view you can see the hatchet/axe sleeve between the two external pockets. Also, behind each of the external pockets, there is another deep pocket, each with a brass grommet drain hole in the bottom:

Sturdy leather lash points on the bottom of the pack.

The attachment points for the shoulder strap yoke has to be seen to be believed. I’m pretty confident that I will wear out long before they ever do. View from the outside the pack.

And the view of the shoulder yoke attachment from inside the pack.

Don’t be fooled by the “Jr.” in the name of this pack. There is ample room for a multi-day trip with this pack, depending on how much you carry. The “Jr” version of this pack does not have a waist strap, which personally I like in a pack this size, because it won’t interfere with things I might have on my belt, such as a knife. However, if you’d prefer one, I’m sure you could ask the folks at Frost River to put one on for you.

As I hope is evident from these pics, this is an absolutely tremendous piece of gear that embodies the whole reason why we first started this blog – gear that you will have to spend time wearing in, rather than wondering how soon it will wear out.

At $280, the Isle Royal Jr. is not a cheap pack. But frankly, if you want cheap, go buy any one of a number of vastly inferior packs from the Big Box Temple of Outsourced Crap of your choice and cross your fingers that you get a few seasons out of it before the stitching implodes or the zipper blows. Or, you can invest in something that you will likely have for the rest of your life – maybe even pass down to someone else. An item that is made in the USA, by people who truly care about the goods they produce. Top it off with an honest lifetime guarantee. In the long run, which approach will cost more?

As an aside, when I called Frost River to order this pack, I was told that it wasn’t in stock. After taking so long to make a decision, my heart sank as I imagined several months of waiting. “No problem,” I was told on the phone. “We’ll start building it today, and it should go out by early next week at the latest.” The pack was built, shipped, and in my hands, in less than two weeks. I am thoroughly impressed with every aspect of this great company.

Click here to learn more about Frost River and the excellent line of goods that they offer.