Friday, May 24, 2019

COGHLAN'S Multi-Function Camp's not bad for five dollars!

Hello my friends!  Sorry I have been gone so long! It has been a busy year thus far, and I've been busy with life and other projects. Anyhow, earlier today I was shopping at RITE-AID and decided to peruse the Sporting Goods/Camping section. I noticed that COGHLAN'S had changed the handles of their traditionally red-handled camp knife to a very attractive green color:

The green color was unique and new to me...kind of the same shade as the U.S. Park Service vehicles. I decided to pick one up and add it to my collection of camp knives: 

...and, since I had the knife in packaging, I decided to go ahead and do a quick tabletop review on it. 

Basically, the COGHLAN'S  Multi-Function Camp Knife is a Chinese-made copy of the classic Swiss Army Knife [SAK] pattern or "style". It is marketed by COGHLAN'S  LTD, a well known outdoor products based in Winnipeg, Canada []. If you are not familiar with COGHLAN'S, they offer a large variety of camp gear items, usually at a budget price.

This camp pocket knife measures appx. 3.5" [91mm] closed with a blade length of 2-1/8" [55mm], for an open length of 6" [15.5 cm]. The knife's tools include:

1. Spearpoint blade
2. Can Opener
3. Phillips screwdriver
4. Corkscrew
5. Combo bottle cap lifter/slotted tip screwdriver.

As well, the plastic handle scales house a toothpick and tweezer. 

The blade has a typical factory grind sharpening...not spectacular, but adequate. The blade was almost certainly stamped out on a press and then passed a couple of times over a belt grinder to achieve a working edge. This knife blade is probably constructed from a low quality stainless steel. My experience has been that these knives will take a good sharpening but won't hold an edge.

Here is a video review I shot on this pocket knife:

The profile of the pocketknife is very slender, much more so than a VICTORINOX due to the lack of tools, and it carries very comfortably in the pocket. The backsprings are good and there is no side-to-side wobble or play when the blade or tools are deployed. 

My only criticism was that the toothpick was lodged too tight in the handle and had to be pried out. I discovered some sprue from molding in the toothpick channel. I scraped it smooth, and this allowed the toothpick to be easily withdrawn and replaced.

Personally, I enjoy collecting "knock-off" copies of Swiss Army Knives. It's fun to compare them, how they differ, and also to see if they can be made better by proper sharpening and tuning up the stamped/hastily made tools, such as squaring up those rounded screwdriver tips and putting an edge to those rounded-dull can opener blades.

Price of this pocket knife as of this moment is about $4.59 USD at RITE-AID. As I see it, this little knife offers utility for the person on a budget who perhaps wants to have a pocketknife for trail and camp but cannot afford to spend more.  I also see it as having usefulness as a light EDC pocket carry folder which won't arouse concerns if observed, such as paring an apple at the office. SAK's are sold and recognized globally...there are very few people do not know what a "Swiss Army knife' is. 

I also think this would make a fine starter pocket knife for a youngster such as a Boy or Girl Scout who is just learning knife handling skills. At that price point if it becomes damaged/lost it is of no great loss, versus a better quality pocketknife.

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]

Friday, January 11, 2019

Mini-Bushbuddy Coffee...With thanks to BUSHCRAFT MY WAY Channel

Sometime back, I came across an excellent tutorial video entitled "Bushcraft tips & tricks: The modified tea-light candle (the mini-bushbuddy )... my way!" [link below].

The video was produced and shared my a bushcrafter in Romania, and details how to make an excellent tool for heating a cup of water using only a common tea-light candle.

We've been having quite a bit of rain here on the central California coast, so last night I crafted a few of these.

I decided to make a cup of coffee this morning, so I used one to heat water in my canteen cup, using the DOLLAR TREE paper clip cup as my cup-stand.

The results were outstanding. I achieved a rolling boil on over 1 cup of water in just under 6 minutes. Of course, it was assisted by a wind-sheltered location and the burner was placed very close to the bottom of the cup so heat transfer was very good.

Regardless, I think this is an excellent and low-cost means to boiling water or heating a soup or any cup-based meal or beverage on the trail. 

The mini-bushbuddy is really easy to craft and all that is required is your time, some corrugated cardboard, and inexpensive tea candles. In this case, I used DOLLAR TREE tea candles. 

If you are interested, here is the link to the BUSHCRAFTMY WAY instructional video I mentioned  "Bushcraft tips & tricks: The modified tea-light candle (the mini-bushbuddy )... my way!" 

Happy Hiking!

[Bushcraft Woods Devil]

Friday, December 28, 2018

5iVE STAR GEAR Survival Tube....Urban Survival Gear

I received a 5iVE STAR GEAR Survival Tube as a Christmas gift from my family this year. 5iveStar Gear is a company that produces and markets a full line of outdoors gear, survival gear, personal safety equipment and packs and bags. I should mention that they have History Channel's ALONE participants Alan Kay and Dr. Nicole Apelian as product ambassadors, which is a very noteworthy recommendation if they are willing to put their name behind these products! As to the Survival is a steel tube, wrapped with 6' of Paracord that contains a ferrocerium rod, a scraper, a diamond-coated knife/ fishhook sharpening rod, and comes with a carabiner for suspending it from your belt or pack. In the video below, I display the packaging and remove the items for a stump top review:

It also comes with 2 tinder tabs. They are treated with some kind of substance, I do not know what, perhaps it is proprietary. It is greaseless and colorless. I tested them and they ignite easily with a spark, and burn very well. I only used a very tiny portion and it seemed to me to burn better and longer than generic petroleum jelly.

I could not fit an entire tinder tab inside the tube, but unraveled one of the tabs and placed a small portion inside, enough to start a fire if needed [assuming I have done my preps and gathered additional tinder, progressive kindling, and dry fuel].

This item is marked on the package "Urban Survival Gear" and I suspect they intended this as a bit of kit to EDC on your person or on a pack. It is very benign in appearance and portable. I should think that it would probably go unnoticed in a non-permissive environment, like a workplace business office setting.
Reviews are great but testing is what tells the true usefulness of a tool and so I went out to the local regional park and used the 5iVE STAR GEAR Survival Tube to start a fire and heat water for my morning coffee and oatmeal. I apologize for the quality of the was quite cold out and my camera lens began to fog [I rolled my kayak a couple of months ago and immersed the camera]:

The tool functioned satisfactorily. Things I learned.... 1.) The ferro rod should be screwed into the handle tube to allow control. It is too small to hold in your hand and properly manipulate by itself; 2.) The striker, though small, can be manipulated. However, it has a coat of black paint on it, and you should remove the paint from the scraping edge to properly scrape sparks, just as you do the ferro rod; 3.) The tinder provided burns very well! I would love to know what accelerant they used! Probably a proprietary compound. The diamond sharpener and paracord speak for themselves. I saw no need to use them. I prefer sharpening my blades on stones and I see this as a field/emergency sharpener. And frankly, that dovetails perfectly with the intended use of this as a discreet "Urban Survival Tool", an insurance policy against bad times so to speak.

Other than that, it was a beautiful sunny day. I used my STANLEY Adventure set to cook the meal. The wind was quite strong and a bit cold, but I did not let that stop me from enjoying the day. In point of fact, this is why one goes experience all that the natural world offers.

Now, just as a tip: Not all outdoor adventures require a long journey or an arduous hike! You can find interesting wildlife and have great outdoor experiences right in your own backyard. Just seek out local parks and open space properties to explore within walking distance of your home. Think "Backyardsing" instead of "Backwoodsing". I like parks with pedestal barbeques in which I can make a small fire and heat up a meal or water for a coffee or tea. I can practice fire starting at the same time. Just be sure to be FIRE SAFE, follow park rules and guidelines, and properly extinguish the coals when finished by drowning with water, stirring, and adding more water as necessary. In conclusion, is the 5ive Star Gear "Survival Tube" worth the appx. 20 dollar asking price? Yeah, I think so. It offers a number of functions in a very compact and discreet package that can be easily EDC'ed. Remember, a survival kit is whatever you have on your person when you need it, not the well-stocked kit you've thoughtfully and painstakingly assembled and left stowed in your backpack at home. If you were suddenly thrust into a situation at this very moment, what would YOU have on you that could get you through an event....anything? That is precisely where this 5ive Star Gear tool shines.
If you do intend to EDC this, my advise would be to augment this tool with a small aspirin bottle full of petroleum soaked cotton balls and a good slipjoint pocket knife or small lockback folder. An SAK with a wood saw is an ideal pick for this purpose. Happy Hiking! GOBLIN RANGER [Bushcraft Woods Devil]

Friday, December 14, 2018

Sheffield 12-in-1 Hatchet Multi Tool...what can it do?

I was shopping at Walmart and picked up this 12-in-1 Hatchet Multi-Tool for 10 bucks. Probably 440a stainless steel. Takes a good edge. Batoned with it for about an hour on some hardwood and it retained a edge surprisingly well.

Overall length is about 6.5". It has a tiny 1-3/4" hatchet edge and a hammer poll. A pair of hex nut wrenches are cut out of the head. Has a 2.5" spear point blade, a combo fish scaler/hook remover/ruler/screwdriver tip/file, a small wood saw blade [no offset teeth...will bind in the kerf], and a Phillips head screwdriver.   It includes a flimsy nylon belt/storage pouch and a rubber blade guard [easily lost].
Anyway, let's take a look at what it can do...

I had a lot of fun playing with this, though I don't think it will last for the long haul. I am always interested in how cheap bits of kit perform....those little things unsuspecting and well-meaning family members gift to the outdoors folks in their families.

Okay, so what can it do? Actually, Axe and saw blade are useful and can process small kindling/cut small diameter standing dead wood and saplings. Knife blade could process food, cut cordage, dig a splinter. Proximity of hand to hammer poll too close to safely to pound a stake IMHO. The other tools? Meh, who knows? Perhaps one of you will pick one up and cover those in another video!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

BUD K "Wahoo Killer" Utility Knife

Just a quick video review of a very handy utility knife for camp, fishing, and bushcraft activities. Priced at $2.99, it's a great bargain for the money. 

Basically, it is an inexpensive copy of the famous MORA "Companion". Blade length is about 4", overall length about 8", Weight? Mmm, I would guess maybe 3 ounces? Rubber molded handle and a friction fit plastic sheath. After receiving mine I sharpened it on my stones and it took a razor sharp edge, and seems to keep it's edge pretty well. 

I carved the 7 rabbit throwing sticks seen in the video and really didn't even need to re-sharpen, but just did a light touch up because I am fanatic like that. 

To my mind, this is a great knife to teach bushcraft skills to students, for training Boy or Girl Scouts, an economy blade for cash-strapped outdoor enthusiasts, or an understudy to your MORA. At the price, you can buy several and stash one in every pack and glove box. 

It also has a nice 90 degree spine and will throw sparks from your ferro rod.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Samantha removed the teapot from the fire and poured it into two cups. She crushed some fresh Hedge Nettle leaves and placed them inside tea ball strainers, then lowered the strainers into the cups to steep. She carried the cups into the living room and set them down on a coffee table.

A moment later the cabin door opened and Tamer walked in, having just seen a patient off after treating them for an intestinal infection. She placed a crate full of fresh vegetables and fruit on the counter, payment received for the care she'd rendered. It was nice looking produce and would be welcome nourishment.

Tamer washed her hands and then dropped into an easy chair. "I'm beat" she said. "What's that? 6 patients today?" 

"At least. Here's some hot tea"
, said Samantha, as she passed a cup over to Tamer. "What was wrong with Mrs. Robertson?

"I can't tell you. There's HIPAA medical privacy laws you know." Samantha sat silent, looking confused. Then Tamer laughed and they both busted up. "Just arthritis", she said. I gave her some Coastal Sagebrush to make a pain relieving tea whenever it acts up." 

Sunlight filtered in through the windows. It was Summer and the days were glorious. Warm air wafted into the cabin. Outside in the yard, the animals started calling, knowing it was nearing their evening feeding. Tamer and Samantha laughed and kidded one another over whose turn it was to feed them.

They sat and sipped the tea and enjoyed the golden afternoon as the day began to wind down. They treasured their quiet time together, thankful for simple pleasures.

And their lives.

It had been just over a year since the Harpe Brothers Raid, as the locals had come to call it. 

Samantha's wounds had healed nicely. Tamer had stitched the wounds closed and administered what few antibiotics she had on hand. It had been enough and Samantha had recovered completely. Having no one but each other, they had moved Samantha into the cabin, bringing along the Pruitt ranch's animals and other useful items from James Pruitt's property.

James Pruitt and Jesse Wolter were at rest, buried in a nearby meadow. It was a peaceful place, surrounded by stately oaks, and every Spring, a carpet of colorful wildflowers, which they picked and placed on their graves. 

They'd learned Jesse's name from identification found in his pockets, along with a photo of him with a young woman. The back of the photo read "Marla, 2017". 

They blessed them for having given their lives to save them from the Harpe's. 

Their lives were bought for a high cost.

"Mm-ma-ma-ma-ma", came from a crib in the corner of the room. Tamer smiled and looked across the room. Two little hands gripped the crib rails and she could just see a wisp of soft brown hair. It wobbled back and forth. Learning to stand is the first step.


Samantha giggled. "Uh-oh, somebody woke up!"

Tamer crossed the room and reached into the crib. She picked up the little girl and carried her back to the easy chair and cuddled her.
"Hello mommy's girl! How are you? Are you hungry?"  The baby cooed and smiled at the sound of her mother's voice.

She opened her blouse and gave her little one nourishment. The baby's blue eyes made contact with Tamer's and a little hand reached up and touched at her mother's cheek. The bond of a mother and child...evidence of the strongest force in all of Gods creation.


Samantha went over to the kitchen counter. "Oh, hey, I forgot. I got her a gift while I was at the Summer Festival in Felton a few days ago." She passed a wooden disk with a bright pink silk ribbon over to Tamer.

Tamer turned the disk over in her hand and examined it. It was decorated with hand-painted Ladybugs and Daisy's. A name was painted in script.

"Oh how cute! Thank you Sam!" ,
exclaimed Tamer. 

When finished nursing, she burped the baby and passed her to Auntie Sam. The baby loved and knew Sam as family, and they cuddled while Sam sang softly for her. Samantha tuned their AM/FM radio, and they listened to a golden oldies station in Santa Cruz and played on a quilted blanket until bedtime.

The solar power panels Bobby had installed produced enough electricity to power their small household. It was a wonderful luxury.

The state government had recently been reestablished and indications were that life was slowly recovering. Power generation had been recovered in some communities and law enforcement had been restoring the rule of law. There were rumors of a new currency starting to circulate.


The years passed and life gradually returned to near normal. Samantha eventually met a man named Jeff Bates and they married. Jeff was an Engineer and helping rebuild infrastructure. They moved into Santa Cruz and built a family of their own. Samantha had two boys, Chris and James. She and Tamer remained good friends and stayed in contact.

Tamer never married. She raised her baby by herself and taught her everything that she could to make her self-reliant. The little girl grew up strong and could care for farm animals, hunt, dress game, fish, and had a deep knowledge of medicinal and edible plants. And Tamer taught her to fight.

If need be. 

Tamer continued to work as a healer around Scotts Valley until her death. In 2048, Tamer fell ill with pneumonia and passed away. She was 51.


The buck moved silently among the oaks. It stopped from time to time and dipped its head to nibble at some of the  tender Fiddlehead shoots and other greens that were coming up.

A light rain fell. Droplets formed on the trees and fell upon the leaf litter, making pops and plops as they landed. True to its nature, the wary buck raised its head from time to time to scan the woods and watch for threats from predators.

The clouds were clearing, pushed aside by gentle breezes, and the sun had come out. The deer continued to graze, then stopped suddenly and raised it's head.

It sensed something...

A primitive composite arrow silently sped through shafts of light that filtered through the trees. The knapped glass blade at it's tip pierced the buck's chest, just behind the foreleg and entered the lungs.

Startled by the silent impact, the buck jumped, arching it's back, and then ran a few yards. The hardwood foreshaft that held the blade slipped from its ferrule and remained embedded in the deer. The main shaft with the fletching detached and fell away. Were the buck lost, at least the arrow could be recovered.

The woods remained silent and the buck settled down. Hemorrhaging internally, it grew weaker and weaker, stumbled, and then went down on all fours. It's head bobbed, then lowered to the ground where it became motionless.

A shadowy figure slowly detached from behind a wide oak twenty yards away.
It held a primitive self bow. The twisted sinew bowstring had turkey feather silencers tied to it. The figure nocked another arrow, pinched and drew the bowstring and slowly advanced on the buck. It prodded the buck, but the deer remained motionless.

The hunter had washed with a tea made from Coastal Sagebrush, which masked their scent. The deer may have caught the slightest whiff of the human scent, but the scent blocker had done its work adequately. They had made meat.

Satisfied, the hunter relaxed the string and un-nocked the arrow. The bow was carefully set aside. The hunter reached behind their back and drew a Butcher knife carried Scout style in a hide sheath tucked into a belt. It had a pitted, deep brown patina on the blade, and the handle was black with use. The edge was keened to a razor edge. Overall, the knife looked like it had seen a lot of use over the years.

A lot.

The archer was tall, slender, and dressed in buckskins. Long wavy brown hair flowed loose over the shoulders. The hunter gathered the hair and tied back with a strip of buckskin. Raptor feathers from a Red-Tailed Hawk were clipped to the hair above the ear and fluttered in the breeze. The hunter placed a hand on the deer and thanked it for the gift of sustenance it would provide.

The archer worked quickly and efficiently, rolling the deer onto its side, opening it, and scooping the organs out onto the ground.

As they bent over to lift the carcass, a wood medallion fell out of the neckline of the archer's buckskins. It was quite old, and hung from a frayed pink silk ribbon. The paint was chipped, but the name on it was still discernible



"Tamer" - PART IX

Tamer stopped and fought to overcome a severe side cramp. She held her side and breather hard, trying to force air into her aching lungs. She knew the man was behind her; not close, but definitely back there somewhere. She couldn't afford to stop, and so she started to jog again.

"I've got to keep moving! It's the only chance I've got"
, she thought  

She estimated she'd covered a half a mile. The shotgun and knife she'd cached were another mile further on. If she could just make it there...

Michael Harpe's bad leg was impeding him. He could only run just so fast and was struggling trying to pursue the girl. At the same time. he fought a nagging thought; Part of him wanted to give up.

"That baby..."

"It's not my kid..."

He pushed the thought from his mind.

Michael Harpe had been killing people for so long that it had become a default mode. He didn't even know why he did it anymore. It was just what he did; his purpose in life so to speak. And now he was intent on slaying this girl.

His brother was dead.

It was her fault.

She had to pay.

Samantha was exhausted. She'd run for what seemed like forever, and she could not run any further. She collapsed under a tree, sobbing. Her grandfather was dead. Blood from the man who did it was spattered all over her skin and clothing. She sat up suddenly.


Tamer was alone and in danger. An evil was chasing her, intent on harming her... 

...and she'd abandoned her. Samantha suddenly remembered a scripture.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but a spirit of power and of love and of discipline..."

Samantha knew what she had to do. She must go back. 

, she told herself.


She stood, wiped her face, and started back down the hill toward the road.

Tamer could finally see the rock outcropping where the shotgun and shells were stashed. It was less than a quarter mile away. She glanced behind her just in time to see Michael Harpe rounding a corner in the road.

He was less than a hundred yards behind her.

Tamer was fading fast. She was drained, running out of energy.

But the will to live was strong.

Just maybe...

Michael Harpe had eyes on Tamer.
He felt energized and quickened his pace. His hand tightened around the butcher knife.

he thought.

Tamer reached the outcropping. She turned off the road and, though completely exhausted, scrambled up the small hill to the rock redoubt. She furiously clawed at the piled rocks that concealed the weapons, throwing them aside.

Her hands closed around the plastic wrapped shotgun and tore it open. The loose shot shell's spilled from the bag, tumbling, bouncing and landing scattered on the ground. She pulled the shotgun free from the bag.

A shadow fell across her. She looked up.

Michael Harpe stood above her, smiling evilly. He was breathing hard as he kicked her in the chest. She fell backwards and the shotgun fell from her hands and clattered onto the rocks.

Gripping his knife, Harpe reversed his hold of the handle, switching it up to an icepick grip. He raised it high above his head, and prepared to plunge it into Tamer. Harpe noticed she had a strange look on her face. She didn't look frightened in the least. Rather, she looked calm...confident.

"What the fuck?" he thought

Samantha came up behind Harpe and bludgeoned him over the head with a heavy rock.
She was exhausted and the blow carried little force. Harpe was momentarily stunned, but shook it off. He swung the knife in a big arc at Samantha. The blade slashed across her upper right arm then across her chest. A large gash opened on each and tissue puckered out of the cut. Blood flowed down her arm and chest.

Samantha didn't even flinch. Enraged, she threw herself on Harpe and began to violently claw and bite his face like a feral animal. She sank her teeth into his deformed nose and wrenched it from his face, spat it out and sank her teeth into his cheek, tearing a great chunk of tissue away.

The rules of society absent, Samantha's primitive human instinct to survive at any cost and by any means had emerged.

Harpe screamed with pain and anger and threw Samantha off of him. She landed on her back and he advanced on her, then plunged the knife deep into her abdomen. Samantha screamed as the blade sank into her.

Harpe was spent. He tiredly raised the knife to stab Samantha again when the nine .33 caliber double aught Buckshot pellets entered his back. The blast propelled him forward, and he fell onto his knees. The pain was excruciating. It felt like he'd been violently punched by a half-dozen  red-hot fireplace pokers. He staggered back to his feet and had turned in a half circle in time to see Tamer work the action and eject the shell. She calmly thumbed another round into the action, closed it and pulled the trigger.

Michael Harpe caught  the second blast in his abdomen.  His mouth fell open and the butcher knife slipped from his hand as he looked down and saw his intestines exposed through a mammoth hole that had been opened in his gut. Copious blood poured out, soaking his pants, running down his legs and dripping onto his shoes.

Shocked, he stood mesmerized at the sight of his own condition. It was incomprehensible to him, after harming so many people over the years, to see himself mutilated and bleeding, yet here it was.

He was vaguely aware of his hair being grabbed from behind and something or someone pulling him backwards. Weakened, he fell backwards for what seemed an eternity, but in reality was only a second or two. He landed hard on the rocky soil, knocking the wind out of him. His eyes moved slowly, weakly. They settled on Samantha who stood above him, looking down upon him. She stepped around his body and then sat atop him, straddling his chest.

Samantha's blood rained on Harpe as she leaned forward. She placed her mouth close to his ear and whispered...

"Say hello to Satan when you get to HELL, you son-of-a-bitch!"

Samantha reached over and gathered up Harpe's knife. She pinned his head to the ground and began sawing through his neck. Muscles and tendons gave way. After a few minutes, Michael Harpe's head came free.
The remaining oxygenated blood in his brain provided about 10 seconds of function;

Long enough for it to recognize its own headless body where it lie on the ground.


Copyright © Manny Silva, 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.