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.

Link.

American Leathers ‘Big Shot’ Glove

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.

The elk leather “Big Shot” glove from American Leathers.

The underside of the Big Shot glove, showing the reinforced finger stalls.

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)

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.

Consider:

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

Geier Gloves

The Geier Glove company was established in Centralia, Washington in 1927. For over 80 years, they have been making leather gloves and moccasins by hand, as it should be. I have used a pair of their Elkskin Roper gloves for years for motorcycle riding and various other needs. They have worn like iron, and never failed me.

This fall, I decided to try a pair of their thinner goatskin gloves (model #330ES) for upland hunting and shooting. While goatskin is definitely a thinner leather, and may feel a little insubstantial at first, this is deceiving. Goatskin is actually quite tough for its thickness, wears very well, provides good grip and allows for more sensitivity than deer or elk skin, making it perfect for activities like shooting and finer detail work.

Geier goatskin #330ES – my hands-down choice for a fine shooting glove.

It’s also worth noting that goatskin can stretch a fair bit – I would encourage ordering a snug size. The pair that I currently own were a little tough to get on when I first purchased them – but with use, they now fit like a custom-tailored, second skin.

My Geier goatskin gloves are easily as well made and perfectly suitable to the task as some shooting gloves I’ve seen, and used, costing twice as much. All Geier products are made by hand in the USA. To learn more about Geier gloves, check out this very cool blog post over at Wood and Metal.

Filson Tin Cloth Strap Vest

Filson Vest Model #16034

Sure, there are much more hi-tech upland hunting vests available these days, with “hydration bladder sleeves” and “adjustable suspension systems” and whatnot. But like all of the best Filson products, there’s something about this vest that the new-fangled options just can’t touch. Filson makes a number of different upland vests, and it really just comes down to personal preference, but I’ve been partial to the model #16034 for some time. I’ve used this vest heavily for four years now and it just keeps getting better.

Heavy duty, but with a light and cool design that allows for plenty of airflow that more traditional vests don’t. Two large front pockets each have an internal divider – perfect for shells, gloves, and sundry items. A small, elasticized pocket on either side fits an e-collar transmitter. Vertical front pockets allow for passing items through to the large game bag without having to reach behind you. A simple belt closure in front with a leather-covered buckle that won’t scratch your gun (the pocket buttons are also covered for the same reason).

The Tin Cloth Strap Vest with a brace of sharptails on a fine October morning.

And really, that’s about it. No other fancy bells and whistles – just simplicity perfected with a few practical features, combined with excellent, made in USA craftsmanship.  Available with or without blaze orange panels.

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.