Archives for : Primitive

Pants or Shorts? Why Choose?

On these unpredictable spring days, when cloudy skies can just as easily turn into warm weather as torrential downpours, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to wear for outdoor activities. Pants can become uncomfortably warm if the weather heats up, but shorts can leave you shivering if those clouds don’t burn off.


A good pair of zip-off cargo pants are the ultimate solution, especially when they’re made from a durable, water-resistant fabric. From a distance, they look like regular pants, usually in a beige, khaki, or green color. But look a little closer, and you’ll see a covered horizontal zipper that goes all the way around the thigh. With one quick zip, the leg of the pants separates, leaving you in a fine-looking pair of shorts. And, if the shorts have cargo pockets, the pant legs can be folded up and stored in there if you don’t have room in your pack.


Even later in the summer, when the weather is more predictable and you plan to wear shorts, zip-off cargo pants can be a lifesaver if you find yourself traipsing through fields of poison oak or scratchy blackberry vines. Just zip the pant legs back on and protect your skin until it’s safe to zip them back off again.


Zip-off cargo pants pack down better than jeans, and they can be much more comfortable. They’re not quite as warm as jeans, but that can be one of their greatest advantages during the hot summer months. This piece of clothing has become a hot commodity in recent years and you can find it in almost all outdoor stores and sporting-goods retailers, as well as traditional department stores and even Wal-Mart.


I recommend the Helly Hansen Cargo Zip-Off Pant, because it’s made from a comfortable, breatable, water-repellent fabric and comes in a variety of colors. You can find a great deal on them here.

A Sunny Day for iPhones

How many times have you been at a coffee shop, in the airport, on a plane, or just walking around when your iPhone or iTouch starts flashing a “low battery” warning and there’s no electrical outlet in sight? It happens to me all the time, and since I’m pretty much addicted to the devices, it’s a major problem.

Fortunately, SolLight has come out with a simple and relatively inexpensive solution – solar charging. Now we can harness the power of the sun to make sure that we always have access to the information and entertainment we crave. Plus, the energy is absolutely free and leaves no carbon footprint whatsoever.

The SOLiCharger is a “solar-powered backup/emergency iPod charger.” It’s small and light at just 1.4 ounces, so it’s easy to take wherever you go. Unfortunately, it’s not very fast and needs up to 16 hours (!) of exposure to the sun to reach its maximum charge. That’s enough to charge the iPhone only halfway, but that’s sure better than nothing when your alternative is a dead battery. A 50% charge should last for at least a few hours, and of course you can always charge it again as long as there’s some sunshine to be found. Plus, you can charge your iPhone while you’re using it.

The really nice thing about the SOLiCharger is that it plugs directly into the iPhone or iTouch, so you don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting cables. And it comes in either black or white, so you can get the one that matches your other gadgets.

If you live in a place without much sunshine, or if you need extra battery power at night, you can charge the SOLiCharger from your laptop or desktop computer and use it like a back-up battery, but obviously the main idea is to charge it with sunlight. Fortunately, charging it through an Apple USB cable is faster and takes just under two hours.

Check out the online slideshow for more information and then decide whether you’d like to buy it. SolLight is currently sold out of the $39.95 device, but you can use the company’s website to find retailers near you.

Easier than Rubbing Two Sticks Together

Do you have an emergency-preparedness kit? According to the U.S. government, we should all have a basic emergency-preparedness kit complete with clean drinking water, nonperishable food, a radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a whistle, maps, basic tools, and some plastic bags.

But they left out one important thing – something that you can use to build a fire for heat, light and/or cooking.

I don’t know about you, but my outdoor-survival skills are a bit rusty. I’m not sure I could create a fire by rubbing two sticks together, or even with a piece of flint. I think I’d rather have a little book of matches in my kit. Of course, if the matches get wet, then I’ll be out of luck. And a cigarette lighter, although handy, is useless once you’ve used up all the lighter fluid. Something that reliably produces sparks is a much better solution.

Today’s gadget is a great addition to any emergency kit for just this reason. The ToolLogic Firesteel Knife has not only a reliable fire starter, but also a fantastic 3-inch stainless steel blade and an emergency whistle. The sharp blade locks into the black handle, but it can be opened and used with just one hand. There’s a special notch on the blade made of a magnesium alloy that produces a shower of sparks, even when it’s wet. You’ll always be able to produce a fire with this handy tool.

This is a also a great device to take along when you’re out hiking, backpacking, or camping – especially since it weighs less than three ounces. And at just $29.99, it’s definitely an affordable companion for your outdoor adventures – and emergency preparedness.

Carabiner Mugs Are Handy Little Cups

I first spotted a carabiner mug clipped to a stranger’s pack at a social gathering in the woods. When I ran across the same mugs in a hardware store later, I picked one up. You can find them around the internet for less than 8 or 9 bucks. I don’t recall what I paid for mine, but I believe it was even less.

The cup is simply a stainless steel double layer (air inbetween the layers) cup with a carabiner attached to the side. I’ve seen some with the carabiner soldiered on, but mine was attached using two small screws.

I frequently clip my cup to my packs for both urban and primitive trips. I’ve sipped morning coffee from my cup more than once. I also found another extremely useful place for this cup – Burning Man and related gatherings. Oftne times, at these events, folks provide free beverages; however, you’re expected to bring a cup.

The carabiner itself can be pretty useful. If you find yourself needing one more carabiner to clip something to your pack with – just use your cup! It seems like such a simple little solution, and it is… but wow, I’ve found it very useful.

The Guppie and Lil’ Guppie Multi-Tools

I was at one of my favorite gear shop / army surplus stories the other day and I ran across the neatest little multi-tool I’ve seen in a while. Under the glass counter, they had a Guppie and a Lil’ Guppie by Columbia River. Both were amazing, but the Lil’ Guppie (shown in the photo with this post) impressed me the most.

The Lil’ Guppie is under 2oz and is extremely compact. It sports a flathead, phillips, knife, c-wrench, bottle opener, and handy little holes and clips all over it. Guppie, the big brother, has a slightly broader range of tools and sports replaceable driver bits and an led flashlight. Both tools are made of high quality metals and are both strong and lightweight.

Personally, the only reason I didn’t snag one immediately is the c-wrench. I currently have a multi-tool with a c-wrench that I rarely use. Typically, I find pliers to be more universally useful. This is more of a “what do I typically do” concern. As such, if you find yourself handling a lot of nuts, this is an excellent lightweight tool.

Black Friday: Trek Light Hammock For 30% Off

Thanks to Seth at Trek Light for passing along word of a special on their fabulous hammocks, here’s the scoop:

Save 30%!!

Usually a one day sale only, this year we’ve decided to go a step further and begin our Cyber Monday sale on Black Friday and give you 4 full days to take advantage of our big savings.

You no longer have to worry about sneaking in some online shopping when you’re back at work on Monday, just visit our site anytime between Friday November 28th to Monday December 1st, enter the coupon code CRZYSALE08 and you can save big!

Get your holiday shopping done early this year and enjoy the great savings!

The coupon cannot be combined with other offers and can only be used once per customer.

So this Friday, head on over to the Trek Light Store and pick up your hammock!

Trek Light’s Lightweight Hammock

On an adventure to Mexico about a year ago, I stopped in the city of Merida. The city is often proclaimed as “the hammock city” by various hammock vendors. You see, hammocks are the way to sleep when you’re trekking across the Mayan routes.

Thus, I bought my first hammock in Merida. Since then, I’ve packed it on a few trips. Unfortunately, this amazing, hand-woven, hanging bed of happy consumes a ton of space in my pack. I’ve since stopped carrying it with me only because of weight and space.

Recently, I ran across a company called Trek Light and one of their key products: extremely lightweight hammocks. These hammocks are made from parachute nylon. The “single” measure 5′ by 10′, holds 400lbs, and adds a single pound in your pack. If you want a snuggle buddy, the “double” stretches 6.5′ wide. An additional aspect of this very smart design – the “bag” for the hammock is part of the hammock itself.

The products aren’t cheap. The single comes in at $54.95 and the double at $64.95. However, this seems to be the kind of backpacking item you only purchase once. After just a couple of trips with my traditional hammock, I would gladly put a few more bills on the table to gain back all that space in my pack, not to mention the weight.

Find out more (or order) from Trek Light’s website.