The BioLite CampStove 2 – Turning Fire Into Electricity Anywhere You Go…. From A Truly Amazing Company!

Do I have one – No… Do I want one – ABSOLUTELY!!

Before we get into the CampStove let’s take a minute to look at BioLite as a company and what they are doing.

BioLite as a company has been around for a little over ten years and they actually have a great story if you take a few minutes to read about them on their website. I would challenge you to take a few minutes out of your day and read – About BioLite, A Mission Ignited, The Road Ahead and the 2018 Impact Report. If you do you will see that they aren’t just a stove, solar or lighting company.. They are a company on fire (no pun intended) to make an impact on half the planet that lives an energy poverty life. Wait.. so this company isn’t solely looking to make products and sell them? No.. they are giving back…. and giving back in a huge way.

Yes.. we will get to the CampStove in a few minutes.. Settle down…

I know that what we do here is bring previews and reviews of products whether they be good or bad products but every once in a while we run across a company that truly stands out and BioLite just happens to be one of those companies.

Let’s take a look at BioLite… All info taken straight from BioLite’s OUR STORY page. I could try and rewrite it and make it my own but why try to change something that says exactly what you want to portray. Hopefully BioLite won’t be too upset that I am using their photos and copy from their page. So here is a sampling of what I asked you to read a few paragraphs up.

Our Story – The BioLite History

BioLite is on a mission to bring Energy Everywhere™ with revolutionary products that transform the way we Cook, Charge and Light our lives off the grid. We are a team of engineers and designers, operators and analysts, story tellers and evangelists, who believe that advanced technologies, built on sustainable business practices, have the power to change the world. Our unique Parallel Innovation business model pairs the needs of families living in energy poverty with the passions of outdoor enthusiasts pushing the boundaries of life outdoors and on the go.

Our founders, Jonathan and Alec, met at Smart Design in New York City where they quickly bonded over their interest in sustainable design. Alec, frustrated that almost all efficient camping stoves required fossil fuels, had the idea of a wood-burning stove able to utilize its own thermal energy to improve combustion. Jonathan, an avid camper, quickly brought his engineering background to the table and the two began the design process. Countless nights, weekends, and prototypes later, the BioLite CampStove was born: a portable biomass stove that leveraged thermoelectrics to create a smokeless fire all while charging personal devices.

There is your sneak peak… Now go to their website and read the rest and I guarantee you will be blown away. Here’s the link to the Our Story page… Yes.. click on it now and read..

And now we stray from the awesomeness of BioLite and what they are doing for the world and take a quick look at the CampStove 2.

First.. I have to say it is one of the coolest looking stoves. Like a fire burning spaceship! So you might ask what the heck is the yellow gadget attached to that stove? That’s the cool part about this stove and makes this thing stand out from any other stove I have seen. Being that I’m not an engineer.. Actually far from it… This is what they say on the website about the CampStove 2.. Turn fire into electricity with BioLite’s award winning stove. Ok.. Here is the fancy part……. Patented combustion technology creates a vortex of smokeless flames for a portable campfire that can cook your meals and charge your gear, all at the same time… Hold up.. cook your food and charge your gear.. Are you saying you can cook a meal and charge a cell phone, battery pack, anything?? Yes my friend that’s exactly what they are saying. Where do I sign up !! This awesome little stove doesn’t run on those gas canisters but rather wood.. Just look around and grab some sticks and twigs and start it up. Truly unbelievable.. And remember what this company is doing for others.

Truly Fantastic Products From A Truly Fantastic Company That Actually Cares About Others… Unique To Say The Least…


  • Charge phones, lights and more with the 3W generated power
  • Burn sticks, twigs, wood scraps or pellets you can buy on the BioLite website
  • Boil Time for 1L is 4.5 minutes
  • Packs down to the size of a 32 oz water bottle
  • Weight comes in at 2.06 lbs
  • CampStove also comes with the FlexLight shown in one of the images above.
  • Regular Price $129.95.. But currently during the HOLIDAY SALE $103.96 – Amazing Deal !!

If you aren’t sold on the CampStove 2 yet I don’t know what to tell you. An amazing stove that is unlike other stoves on the market from a company that is doing amazing work throughout the world for people that need the help.

Check out BioLite’s website to see all the other amazing products they currently offer. CampStove, FirePit, BaseCamp PizzaDome, Solar Panels, Multiple Lighting Products and much more. Take a few minutes to read about BioLite on their Out Story page and help support what they are doing.

Bravo BioLite.. Bravo!!

Device Charging With Wind Or Water – No Sun Needed – The WaterLily Turbine

Gone are the days of just heading out into the backcountry to backpack, hike, camp or fly fish with basic gear. Now everywhere you look people are attached to some type of electronic device with just about everyone needing a phone attached to them at all times. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a cell phone with you at all times because they really can help with navigation, connecting with family, checking social media.. oh wait.. That’s not important…

As we all know phone batteries just don’t last long so what is the answer for power when you are hiking out on the trail or fly fishing next to a river or stream? External batteries… Portable Solar Panels and Chargers.. Yes there are options to keep you connected at all times but let’s look at those options.

  1. External batteries – these are fabulous and work great to keep all your electronics charged. But what happens once you deplete all the power from your external battery..
  2. Portable solar panels – just like external batteries these are great for charging all your devices. They are usually light, can be attached to your backpack, lay on a rock or ground or on the hood of your car. And yes they work great and charge everything you have with the power of the sun. Oh.. except when it’s cloudy, night, raining.. you get the picture. Yep they work great in ideal conditions but how often does that happen?

Just about everything you can find online is solar or battery related when it comes to charging your devices when you are away from an outlet. Until now..

The WaterLily Turbine is a solution to the backcountry charging issues you are having. The WaterLily Turbine works in three different ways. Water Power, Wind Power or Your Power. Let’s look at what this cool little device offers and how you can add it to your gear bag and have unlimited power.

Let’s look at the three ways you can get power using the WaterLily Turbine.

  1. Water Power – WaterLily is a portable charger that gets its power from rivers, streams, creeks, brooks or any type of moving water. If you have water that is moving and can drop this little turbine in it will give you power. Oh.. and it works when it’s cloudy, at night, 24 HOURS A DAY!! It’s truly an amazing little device. If the blades inside the turbine have water going thru them and they are spinning you will have power.
  2. Wind Power – set it up so that the wind is blowing on it and once again if the blades are moving you are getting power. It’s not a complicated concept. If it’s moving it’s working.
  3. The Power Of You – If for some reason you aren’t around running water or there is absolutely no wind there is a small attachment that allows you to hand crank which gives you power on demand. This is a great option for emergency situations.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to fully charged devices after a night of this little turbine spinning in the river? Right.. Everyone wants that.

And.. The WaterLily Turbine can generate 360 watts of power in a day compared to a 14 watt solar panel pushing out 42 watts of power and if you jump up to a 100 watt solar panel it will produce 300 watts of power.. Yep.. once again on a sunny ideal day these are the best case scenario numbers you are going to get. Did I mention the turbine works when it’s cloudy or at night? Just a reminder…

Now we are going to dig into the features and 100% I heisted this off the WaterLily website. What’s the saying? Don’t ask for permission ask for forgiveness!! I have a feeling WaterLily won’t care that I am using their information and data. So here we go..

  1. Class Leading Blade Design – Blade design has been perfected from nearly 10 years of research and development.
  2. Frictionless Drive – Charge in water flows less than 1mph, or from strong gusts on windy days.
  3. 10 Foot Charge Cable (Not drawn to scale) – Keep your devices safe while charging with our abrasion resistant cable.
  4. 20% More Power – Upgraded circuitry and electrics means WaterLily pushes out 20% more power than the original turbine.
  5. Durable, Drop-Proof Housing – Throw it in! Built to keep the power going through the bumps and bruises of outdoor adventures.
  6. Removable Stainless Steel Lanyards – Set up and mounting options are limitless thanks to 4 flexible removable lanyards.
  7. Sealed Female USB Connector – Up to 15W when you need it, waterproof flaps to keep the USB port clean and dry when you don’t. (USB Output Option)
  8. Chainable SAE Connector – 14.6V of power through a versatile SAE connector. Daisy chain multiple turbines for more power. (12V Output Option)

There are two different options you can choose from when purchasing one of these turbines.

USB Output – WaterLily USA allows you to get unlimited power for your USB devices. You can charge your cell phones, USB batter packs, lights, speaker, camera and any other USB device you may have.

12V Output – WaterLily 12V can power lead acid batteries and portable power stations which is perfect for off the grid situations or you can use it as an emergency power supply.

Technical Information

USB Output – 5V regulated USB output, up tp 3A. Maximum Power 15W, USB 2.0 connector, 10 foot cord.

12V Output – 14.6V DC, up to 2A, Maximum power 15W adn you can connect multiple turbines for more power, 2-pin SAE connector, 10 foot cord.

  • 2.85 lb (1.3 kg)
  • 7″ diameter × 3″ thick (180mm × 76mm)

Water Flow Speed

  • Minimum flow required: 0.7 mph (1 km/h, 0.5 kt)
  • Flow for peak power output (15 W): 7.2 mph (11.5 km/h, 6 kt)
  • Maximum water speed: 9 mph (15 km/h, 8 kt)

Charge Times

In an average river, WaterLily can charge most small electronics at the same rate as a wall-charger. The faster the water flow, the more power WaterLily can generate, up to 15 watts.

If your WaterLily has a 12V output, you can chain multiple turbines together to double, triple or further multiply your power output.

And lastly.. let’s quickly talk about accessories.

Hand Crank – Generate power when water and wind are not available. 10 minutes gets you 6 minutes of talk time. Great in emergency situations.  $24.99

Charging Bag – Keep your electronics dry and safe from splashes while charging. Perfect for charging on shore and in any weather. $34.99

Float – Use the WaterLily float to keep your WaterLily Turbine in the fastest flows! Great for low speed flows, Use for towing with a canoe, kayak or even a low drag sailboat. $19.99

And now to the last part.. How much do these things cost?

The WaterLily Turbine – USB Connector model is $159.99 and the 12V Connector model is $189.99.

So.. if you are backpacking across the Sahara Desert and have unlimited sun pick up a solar panel charger but if not take a look at the WaterLily Turbine chargers. In my opinion this is a really good option and at 2.85 lbs it’s really not bad for a solution to charge all of your devices so you can stay connected.

You can check out the WaterLily website at

HG – Hammock Gear – Truly High Quality Ultralight Gear For The Hammock Sleeping Folk

So you have been camping for years in your ground tent and sleeping bag and absolutely love it.. but there is another option and it’s been around for a while now but the talk is getting louder and louder.. Hammock Camping…

So why hammocks? First, you sleep better… how many times have you been on a camping trip and wake up each morning and don’t feel refreshed and like you got a good night sleep? Most of us.. that’s because the ground is a very unforgiving place to sleep. It’s hard, uncomfortable and flat out not the best way to sleep. And.. yes you can have a sleeping mat or pad but it still isn’t ideal. So sleeping in a hammock is as one article I read – sleeping in a suspended, floating cocoon of happiness. I read that and thought.. WOW.. this lady is a lifelong camper and is making a statement like that about hammocks. They must be amazing. Who wouldn’t want to camp and wake up feeling great?

Second is weight.. When backpacking you are constantly looking for lighter and lighter gear so you aren’t hauling a ton of weight on your back. Backpack, tent, tent poles, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc, etc, etc.. Compare all that gear to sleep to hammock camping which if you do it right like a HG Wanderlust Hammock Camping Kit that weight comes in at an amazing 40 oz or 2.5 lbs or 5.5 with the addition of the optional standard insulation. Try the traditional camping route with a tent and gear in under that.. We will look at the Wanderlust a little more later in the post.

Now that I have your attention and Hammock Camping sounds intriguing let’s look at HG and some of their gear.

HG – Hammock Gear… I pulled this information from their About HG page – Established in 2009, Hammock Gear is a small manufacturing company based just outside of Columbus Ohio. We pride ourselves on using the highest quality materials available on the market, to produce our line of ultralight backpacking products. Many of our craftspeople have been active in their respective fields for decades. Drawing on the expertise of our team members, as well as the experience of our customers, we are constantly striving to improve our line of products preferred by hammock and ground campers alike. This combination of expertise and high expectation is the foundation of our mission as a manufacturer of outdoor recreational gear.

I have been talking to HG for a few weeks now and have done a lot of reading and research on HG as a company as well as hammock camping in general. As you know I am a fan of small companies and individuals that produce hand crafted products and HG falls right into that small manufacturing type of company and I like what I have read and seen so far. From the interactions I have had with HG’s President I can see how they have a passion for what they are doing and putting out for us outdoors folk. Their products aren’t mass produced but rather made with that same passion and attention to detail so you know that you are getting quality.

The Wanderlust Complete Kit For Hammock Camping

Here’s what you get…

  • Zippered Bug Net Hammock
  • Ultralight Hammock Suspension including Continuous Loops, Ridgeline, Carabiners, Ultralight Daisy Chain
  • Quest Tarp equipped with 12′ green reflective guyline at both ridgeline tie-outs and 6′ orange reflective guyline at all four perimeter tie-outs
  • Knotless tie-out package with LineLocs and titanium clips
  • Aluminum Y-Stakes (4)
  • Matching Stake Stuff Sack
  • Stuff Sack for storing everything together
  • $229.99
  • Total Weight – 40 oz / 2.5 lbs

Optional Standard Insulation

  • Economy Burrow Standard Length and Width 20 degree comfort rating: Moroccan Blue Outer / Black Inner
  • Economy Incubator Standard Length 20 degree comfort rating: Moroccan Blue Outer / Black Inner
  • Both quilts ship with their own FREE individual storage sack and stuff sack!
  • $499.99
  • Total Weight – 88 oz / 5.5 lbs

With Every Wanderlust Kit Purchase you get

  • A mesh gear sleeve
  • Silicone seam sealer for the tarp

The options you can select on the Wanderlust are primarily color related – The zippered bug net hammock comes in black, charcoal grey, dark olive green, moroccan blue and moss green. Then you get to choose your tarp color – copper or dark olive green.

Now we are going to look at the two components that make up the optional standard insulation part of the Wanderlust.. The economy burrow and economy incubator.

The Economy Burrow or Top Quilt

From the HG website – The Economy Burrow top quilt works well for ground sleepers (make sure you order the wide width) and hammock sleepers alike.  With a Economy Burrow you can rest assured that when those temperatures plummet, you will remain toasty warm.  Our top quilts feature a half taper design and vertical torso baffles, which helps to make sure you have proper side coverage to your hips, while also saving a little bit of weight due to the tapered footbox.  We have two options for foot boxes, zipper and sewn.  The zipper footbox is more versatile, allowing you to unzip and lay the quilt out flat.  The sewn footbox should be utilized if you only camp in cold weather, and don’t need to vent the top quilt.  Each top quilt comes standard with grosgrain loops along the sides of the quilt to allow ease of attaching our Ground Pad Attachment Kit, which comes in handy if you sleep on an insulated pad.  Our Economy Burrow is 15-20% overfilled to help minimize down migration and prolong the loft of the down over time and use.

Now comes the difficult or fun – however you look at it.. The options!!

There are 5 outer shell colors to choose from – black, blue, grey, green and orange.

There are 2 inner shell colors – black or grey

Temperature Rating Options of – 40° F, 30° F, 20° F, 10° F or 0° F

Length Options – Standard (5’7″ to 6’2″), Short (5’2″ to 5’7″) and Long (6’2″ to 6’7″)

Width Options – Standard (50″ for Hammocks) and Wide (55″ For Ground & Hammocks)

Footbox Style Options- Zipper or Sewn

Down Fill – 800

Overfill options – Standard Fill, 1 ounce, 2 ounces, 3 ounces or 4 ounces

And lastly – Ground Pad Attachment Kit

Whew.. That’s a lot of options that will get you EXACTLY what you want and need.

The Economy Incubator or Underquilt

From the HG website –

The ULTIMATE underquilt for guaranteed comfort at a low price… The Standard length Economy Incubator is long enough to generously cover most hammock campers up to about 6’ 1”.  Our Economy Incubator series utilizes downproof 1.1 oz / yd² (20D) Calendared Nylon Taffeta fabric and 800 fill power DWR Treated Grey Duck Down. This underquilt will protect you in temperatures down to its temperature rating. If you are looking for an underquilt that is hassle free and will allow you to enjoy your hammock for more months of the year, you have found it.

The Economy Incubator comes with 9 anatomically contoured, differential cut baffles that run the length of the quilt. One of the things this construction technique does is to greatly reduce the shifting of down that is sometimes more noticeable in quilts made with premium down.  This is one of the reasons Hammock Gear quilts are always 15-20% overstuffed. The differential cut, contoured baffles also provide the highest level of fit which is critical to keeping warm. The Economy Incubator comes complete with our state of the art shock-cord suspension system, featuring color coded s-biners that help you to easily orient the head and foot end of the underquilt for a quick and effortless set-up. All of our quilts are shipped with a complimentary cotton storage sack, and a nylon stuff sack!

Like the burrow there are multiple options to choose from

Same 5 colors of outer shell and 2 colors for the inner shell

Same temperature ratings from 40° to 0° F

Same length options, down fill and overfill options.

Looking at all that you get for a great price how could you go wrong picking up a new sleeping system that offers superior comfort and weight perfect for backpacking? Not to cloud things but they do offer a premium line as well which offers more color combinations and the down fill goes from 800 in the economy line to 850 or 950 in the premium.. We can talk about that in a different post.

So now you need to decide if you want to sleep better when out camping… who wouldn’t… if you fall into that category give HG a look. You can check out the large offering of gear they produce on their website of

I would guess you won’t be sorry you went with a passionate company like Hammock Gear..

The Outstanding Workmanship And Beauty Of A Liam Hoffman Axe. Simply The Best!

Somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina there is a guy that is putting out probably the finest axes known to man. Yes, I know that people will argue that Gränsford Bruk makes the greatest axes and they are truly fantastic works of art but Hoffman in my opinion puts out a superior product. Product is probably a horrible word to use.. work of art is more like it.

I have been around a lot of axes and hatchets in my life and used quite a few of them but this past week I was able to see a Hoffman and a Gränsford Bruk in person. I am looking to purchase a new small backpacking hatchet so I went looking for someone that had them. After seeing them side by side they are both truly fantastic works of art. But.. Hoffman just had a feeling of a superior hatchet and the fit and finish and attention to detail are absolutely second to none. So now I have to wait until December 23rd and rush to get on the Hoffman site to hopefully get one of the few Mini Campers he lists at 7:00 PM. I hear they go incredibly fast. Wish me luck..

Liam releases a different model every Monday at 7PM EST on his website in limited quantity up to a maximum of 10. This will be my first time to try and get one of his axes and if I don’t make it in time it looks like I may have to wait months until the Mini Camper is available again. That should tell you how much people want a Hoffman axe.

Now that I have found my backpacking/camping axe I thought to myself.. I am going to do a search on the web of “Best Backpacking Axes”. I did and the results were astonishing to say the least and it made me think about the way I do my previews and reviews on this page. I read article after article after article.. and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading. It wasn’t just one article or review it was EVERY SINGLE ONE I READ. I have to tell you I am proud of the way I do my reviews and reading these articles solidified that. I am going to give you one example of “Best Backpacking Axes”. Here we go.

I read the article and thought to myself.. is this guy for real? How is he saying these 6 axes are the BEST axes out there for backpacking. Then I scrolled down the the tiny tiny print at the bottom of his page and this is what it said “****** is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.” Now his article makes total sense. He’s getting paid to give you an opinion that is so far from impartial it isn’t funny.

When I think of “THE BEST” I think these are actually the best. And when I think of the best I think of superior quality, workmanship and performance. Here are some descriptions he listed in his reviews of “THE BEST” backpacking axes. (1) Made In One Piece (2) Axe And Multi-Tool Combo (3) Lacquered Leather Grip (4) Potential To Chip After A Couple Of Hard Uses (5) Difficult to get good chopping power (6) Composite Handle (7) Edge Can Chip After A Few Uses (8) Dulls quickly and requires frequent sharpening. Honestly how can a person write a review of “THE BEST” of anything and have all those descriptions. I’ll tell you.. BECAUSE THEY ARE GETTING PAID TO SEND YOU TO AMAZON…

How I handle things.. I DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT get paid from anyone for advertising or part of a program where I get paid to give an opinion. Why?? Because it clouds your judgement and that doesn’t make for an impartial review. Ok Rant is over..

Maybe I am a gear snob but I do appreciate hand crafted quality gear and Liam Hoffman and his team does put out some incredible axes.

I do want to give you a feeling for what Liam is about and where he comes from. Below is what Liam has on his About Us page.

Growing up in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I was accustomed to playing outside in the woods and creeks, opening up my mind to creativity. I have always been very hands-on and creative. I would make paper dye with wild violets and mold bowls from clay dug out of the creek banks. My mother and her family are very artistic and creative with design. My father is a hard working farmer. I believe I have both these attributes, and that when these traits are combined they fit perfectly the description of a blacksmith: hard work mixed with creative spirit.

I began blacksmithing in the fall of 2008 at the age of thirteen, starting out with nothing but a pit fire and a trailer hitch for an anvil. Over the last several years I’ve worked my way up by purchasing new equipment one machine at a time and learning about the craft and science of moving steel. My parents have been extremely supportive in helping me pursue my passion. They gave me a push start by building a small brake drum forge for my fourteenth birthday. My dad took on the project of building my small 200 square foot shop over a two-year period. Once this foundation was established, I had my business well under way before graduating from high school.

I always get asked how and why I got started in blacksmithing at the age I did. One might think that I saw a blacksmith at a local fair or read about it in school and ran home to try it out. There was no conscious reason why I started, it’s just called being a 13 year old boy. There is nothing else to it. Once I started heating up and hammering on steel, I knew it felt right. Only afterward did I discover what I was doing was called blacksmithing. Today I’m twenty-three years old with 10 years of experience, author of my book FORGED a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith, and I’ve had the pleasure to teach private lessons to students from as far away as Australia. In June of 2016, I traveled NYC to appear on History Channel’s Forged in Fire. There, I forged a Kora sword and became the youngest to win Forged in Fire against ABS Master Bladesmith, Josh Smith.

I believe that high school hindered me in a way since I discovered my vocation at such a young age. Getting an education is imperative, but at the same time it felt nearly obsolete for me and it’s becoming more apparent every day how this traditional schooling isn’t working for so many folks with an aptitude for trades. I was already working 35 hours a week after school and on weekends, making both school and work life challenging. Add to that several years in Boy Scouts, achieving Eagle Scout at seventeen. I truly believe in hard work for building character. The secret to success is passion and hard work, of which I’m fortunate to have plenty for blacksmithing. Our goal today is to create a tool that your great grandfather would call quality. Made by people, not machines. We’re creating legacy tools to be passed down generation to generation.  

What that tells me is Liam is passionate about what he does and his axes are hands down in my opinion the best out there. So if you want a axe that is quality look up Liam Hoffman and get in line for one of his works of art. If you want cheap rubbish axe head over to Amazon and pick one up for $19.99.

Check out Hoffman Blacksmithing at his website – or his Facebook page – or on Instagram @hoffmanblacksmithing

As I always say with any hand crafted gear I post about – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Liam hands down makes the greatest axe out there.

Überleben And Their Lightweight Stöker Flatpack Stove And Unwaxed Canvas… Also The Hexå Fire Starter

It’s not often that I give myself credit for much but when starting this review I decided I needed to figure out how to do the umlaut marks over the letters.. And I did.. Now moving on…

Up today is the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove and their Hexå Fire Starters. If you don’t know anything about Überleben you really need to check them out. They are putting out some really cool products and I got my hands on a flatpack stove and a fire starter.. See how I did that.. I didn’t list the two words that require me to find the Ü, ö and the å !!

First up is the Stöker Flatpack Stove.. We all know there are a multitude of backpacking stoves out there and alot of good ones. But there is something about this one that is simple, basic and just really cool. This little gem is made out of high quality HD 304 stainless, breaks down into 7 pieces and lays flat in a canvas bag. All that and weighing in at a light 14.6 oz. and that even includes the canvas pouch! How cool is the packaging this thing comes in!!

I’m going to break away from the stove for a couple of seconds and give you a glance into Überleben and their beliefs. The following comes from their About Us section.. and.. I can tell you without a doubt this is the best About Us section I have ever seen on a company’s website. I’m not sure who at the company wrote this but they definitely deserve a gold star.. Wow.. So here you go.

We believe that less is more. We believe in quality over quantity. We believe in respecting tradition, while continually challenging it. And above all, we believe that fire is absolutely non-negotiable. 

Überleben is German word meaning to survive — and/or, to live. While those words appear the same, they’re somewhat different. Fire is essential to survival. However, “survival” is not the reason we trek into the woods after work on a Wednesday afternoon. We’re doing this because something deep inside us is still whispering, “build fire or die”. Subconsciously, we’re not attempting to escape physical death — but psychological death. We long to live. Not merely survive. We’re chasing the experience, an we exist to share that experience with others. 

This isn’t about Instagram followers. Nobody cares about your feather sticks. This isn’t about them. It’s about you.

Ok.. back to the stove now.. below is some information that they list on their website.

Introducing the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove. We didn’t need a stove — we just really wanted one. Made of the highest quality HD 304 stainless, the Stöker weighs in at only 14.6 oz packed flat (including the canvas sleeve). The perfect balance of durability and weight. If you can’t find fuel for this, you’re going to need more than a fire to save you.

  • Fueled entirely by organic matter (twigs, bark, pine needles, etc.), this stick stove / bio stove will keep you going indefinitely. No more fuel canisters. 
  • Simple 5-panel assembly allows for low profile / flat pack stow.
  • HD 304 grade stainless steel is anti-corrosive and extremely strong.
  • Includes unwaxed canvas sleeve (wax or leave breathable, according to your climate / preference).
  • Canvas Sleeve doubles as a tinder bag.
  • Weight: 14.6 oz. (including canvas sleeve)
  • Assembled Dimensions: Height – 6.5”, Width – 5.5”( at base) and 4.5” (at top)

I got the stove in the mail, admired the way it was packaged and then opened it. I can’t say enough about this little stove. It’s just cool and built different than anything else I have seen. It’s hard to describe.. JUST COOL!!

My experience.. Putting the stove together was easy, straight forward and absolutely no need for instructions. If I can’t put together something with a total of 7 pieces there is something wrong with me… So.. I got the stove put together and tested it out. Did I mention it cool?? I think I did.. I loved it. It’s basic and gets the job done and all for $38. Yep.. only $38. It’s a great deal. Yes we can buy a stove that requires fuel and burns a kabillion degrees and you can raise and lower the flame.. blah blah blah.. boring. This stove let’s you do what you were meant to do and that is build a fire. Build a fire and cook your own food. Pick on up.. That’s all I need to say.. Just get one.

***NOTE*** Yes I used the stove and took a multitude of photographs but come one.. How can anyone take photos and compete with the images on the Überleben website.. Well. I can’t and that’s why I used their images and not mine..

Here is the link to the Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove –

And if you have a Stöker stove or any wood burning stove what do you need….. Yep.. a way to get a fire started. Yes you can use a BIC lighter but the fire gods may strike you down if you ever use a BIC light or any little silly lighter to start a fire in the Stöker stove.. If you are going to own a Stöker you dang well better get a real fire starter and Überleben just happens to have you covered in this area. Yes.. more cool pictures from their website.

Not only does Überleben have fire starters they have a lot of them in all shapes and sizes. I picked up the 3″ Hexå Fire Starter and it does exactly what it is supposed to do – It Throws Sparks! The Hexå comes in a 3″ & 6″ both with a multi-tool scraper. Once again a cool thing to have with you. Never know when you will need FIRE!!

From the website –

Introducing the Hexå. We’ve been plotting this move for awhile now. We got tired of waiting for someone else to do it. Our proprietary hexagonal ferro profile means 6 flat sides; or more surface contact — and more surface contact means more molten ferrocerium thrown whenever you need it.  

  • Flat profile design, for greater control and greater efficiency. Approx. 8mm of direct striker-contact on each side
  • 1/2″ (12.5mm) thick Sånft-korr ferrocerium rod yields 20,000+ strikes
  • Works at any altitude, in any weather… even wet.
  • Includes full grain leather lanyard for multiple securing options, and 6-function multi-tool scraper.
  • Available in 2 lengths (3″ & 6″)

The 3″ Hexå comes in at $18 and the 6″ at $32. Small price to pay for something that can start you thousands of fire out on your adventures.

Like I said there are a multitude of fire starters on the Überleben website so take a look what they have.

Just know that when you pick up a stove and a fire starter from the Überleben website you are going to be the cool kid on your next backpacking or camping trip!

Check out Überleben and all their awesome gear on their website – or their Facebook page – or their Instagram page

Why Buy Mass Produced When You Can Buy An Heirloom Quality Knife? The Creek Hopper By Phil Seeley

I deal with a large number of people everyday and it isn’t often that I run into someone like Phil Seeley – a true artist with a passion for his work and people. A while back I started conversations with Phil and I’m not sure I have met many people in my many years on this earth that are more passionate and full of life than Phil. The guy loves what he does… plain and simple.

When looking over his website the products he is putting out is truly fantastic and the one thing that caught my eye was the Creek Hopper. A fixed blade knife that would be awesome out on the water, at camp or anytime you need to call upon a knife. These things are truly beautiful works of art!

One day I was messaging back and forth with Phil and I asked him where the inspiration came from for the Creek Hopper And his knives in general. His response was cool…. “My dad used to take me into a gas station in town where all the guys would hang out and drink coffee. Back when they had jack knives behind the counter. I remember falling in love with their shape and unique colors and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get one. They were those old swoop looking fishing knives and the Creek Hopper resembles that shape to me. The Creek Hopper is my favorite knife and as of right now it’s the most popular. It is 100% my own design and it took me a while to get it how I wanted it so I’m proud of this style.”

And that’s how the Creek Hopper was born.. from the early beginnings of a young boy hanging out with his dad in a gas station. That’s pretty cool in my opinion. Currently Phil is selling the Creek Hopper for $190 which is a great deal for a knife of this quality and the attention to detail is remarkable to say the least.

You can check out his work either on his Instagram page @barnandbrooksupplyco or his website

Phil is a great guy that loves people and I’m sure he would love to hear from you so drop him a line. You won’t be disappointed.

Is The SVEA 123 Still A Viable Camp Stove Option?

This little brass stove has been in production since 1955 but in today’s world of backpackers seeking the next holy grail of light weight stoves, is the SVEA 123 really an option anymore? Over the past few weeks I have talked to numerous people (and when I say numerous I mean numerous) that have either owned, used or have been around a SVEA 123 in use and the majority of those people say 100% they are one of the greatest stoves ever produced.

Cult Following – comprised of a group of fans who are highly to a work of culture. The stove does have a pretty incredible and devoted following so maybe it is a good choice. Let’s look at some points brought up with current and previous SVEA 123 stove owners.

(1) Looks – Every single person said it was hands down the coolest looking stove they have ever owned. Who wouldn’t want a retro shiny brass looking stove? (2) Size & Weight – This stove packs down to a small 5” x 4” size and while that’s small it isn’t as small as some new stoves. Fully fueled it comes in at around 15oz. (3) Reliability – IT ALWAYS WORKS! Plain and simple it just works. (4) Wind – It’s wind proof.. (5) Boil Time – This is where the 123 drops off a little. The consensus of those interviewed said the boil time is around 6 minutes which is considerably longer than some of the newer MSR stoves. So is this going to require you carry additional fuel and thus increase your overall pack weight? Maybe… (6) Longevity – Everyone claims to have owned one for 25+ years and they are still to this day described as brilliant, compact, never failed me, incredible, fuel efficient, reliable, stable and easy to use… what else do you need to hear?

Yes these little beauties have a cult following but from those I spoke to, and let me assure you it was a lot of people… the SVEA 123 is still a fantastic backpacking stove. And who wouldn’t want a bright, shiny and cool camp stove?

Check them out on eBay for a true vintage model (open up your checkbook and get ready to shell out some dollars) or you can still buy new models at numerous locations on the web for about $87. Yes they are still a good backpacking stove option……

Nemo Brings A Bevy Of Bags To The Side Sleepers

Most people don’t know that 70% of the earth’s population are side sleepers.  Yep 70%…  That’s a big number.  So why do nearly all sleeping bag manufacturers insist on ignoring the vast majority of the population and forcing everyone to adapt and sleep in the ever popular Mummy Bag?  Well…. there are a few different reasons.  (1) The most “thermally efficient sleeping bag shape is the mummy.  (2) The form fitting shape of a mummy bag reduces the amount of air around the body so your body doesn’t have to generate as much heat to maintain a warm temperature.  (3) Mummy bags are smaller and less bulky so they are better for those looking for light weight when backpacking.  (4) Oh..  you get the point..  Who needs a 4th point.  Yes mummy bags are lighter, more efficient and I guess warmer but that doesn’t help the majority of the population who sleep on their side. 

In walks Nemo and yells out – Hey all you side sleepers, we’ve got you covered!  After a lot of reading and talking to “experts” in the field yes Nemo has us side sleepers covered with some great options.  To be exact they have three different models of side sleepers with all three models coming in mens and womens and then in each of those models there are two different temperature ratings.  That means there are 12 different side sleeping bags put out by Nemo.  Now you can clap!!!  GREAT JOB NEMO!!

Let’s break down the three different models and show you some pictures..  (Shhh.. Don’t tell Nemo I lifted the pictures of the bags from their site!!)  You would think with how much they love side sleepers they surely wouldn’t come after a fellow side sleeper writing a nice review.  Oh course not!  Anyway..  back to the three different models.

The following details pertain to the two down models of bags listed below. These are the details listed on the Nemo site. – Spoon™ shape adds room at elbows and knees. Insulated with premium fluorocarbon-free, water-resistant Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™. 100% Responsible Down Standard (RDS) Certified down is traceable and ensures humane treatment throughout the supply chain. Waterproof/breathable footbox protects from tent condensation, keeping feet warm and dry. Blanket Fold™ external draft collar provides tucked-in comfort and temperature regulation. Thermo Gills™ allow you to vent body heat without letting cold drafts in. Integrated pillow pocket allows a jacket, extra clothes, or a Fillo™ to be stuffed into the sleeve opening for a handy pillow-on-the-go.

(1)   Disco Men’s Down Sleeping Bag and the Rave Women’s Down Sleeping Bag – 30 Degree Regular $259.95 / 30 Degree Long $279.95 / 15 Degree Regular $299.95 / 15 Degree Long $319.95

The Disco and the Rave both come in 30 & 15 degree options and regular & long in both temperature ratings . The insulation is 650 FP Down. With fill weight on the 15 degree bag coming in at 1 lb. 6 oz. and on the 30 degree bag at 15 oz. Shell fabric of 30D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR, Footbox fabric of 40D Nylon Ripstop OSMO w/DWR, Lining fabric of 30D Nylon Taffeta w/DWR. Both come with a compression stuff sack and a cotton storage bag.

(2) Riff Men’s Down Sleeping Bag and the Jam Women’s Down Sleeping Bag – 30 Degree Regular $349.95 / 30 Degree Long $369.95 / 15 Degree Regular $399.95 / 15 Degree Long $419.95

The Riff and the Jam both come in 30 & 15 degree options and regular & long in both temperature ratings. The insulation is 800 FP Down. With fill weight on the 15 degree bag coming in at 1 lb. 5 oz. and on the 30 degree bag at 15 oz. Shell fabric of 20D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR, Footbox fabric of 40D Nylon Ripstop OSMO w/DWR, Lining fabric of 30D Nylon Taffeta w/DWR. Both come with a compression stuff sack and a cotton storage bag. One added detail on the Riff and Jam that the Disco and Rave don’t list is Full length double slider #5 YKK zipperwith snag guard built into the draft tube makes getting in and out of the bag a breeze.

(3) Forte Men’s Synthetic Sleeping Bag and the Viola Women’s Synthetic Sleeping Bag – 35 Degree Regular $159.95 / 35 Degree Long $169.95 / 20 Degree Regular $189.95 / 20 Degree Long $199.95 – NOTE** THESE ARE SYNTHETIC BAGS NOT DOWN

The Forte and the Viola both come in 35 & 20 degree options and regular & long in both temperature ratings. The insulation is Synthetic Stratofiber which provides the most reliable moisture resistant warmth in all conditions. With fill weight on the 20 degree bag coming in at 2 lb. 1 oz. and on the 35 degree bag at 1 lb. 4 oz. Shell fabric of 40D Nylon Ripstop w/ DWR, and Lining fabric of 30D Nylon Taffeta w/DWR. Both come with a compression stuff sack and a mesh storage bag. One added detail on the Riff and Jam that the Disco and Rave don’t list is Full length double slider #5 YKK zipperwith snag guard built into the draft tube makes getting in and out of the bag a breeze.

These are the details listed on the Nemo site for the Forte & Viola Synthetic Bags – Spoon™ Shape adds room at elbows and knees. Thermo Gills™ allow you to vent body heat without letting cold drafts in. Insulated with premium synthetic Stratofiber™, offering the best blend of warmth, moisture resistance, and packed volume. Blanket Fold™ external draft collar provides tucked-in comfort and temperature regulation. Integrated pillow pocket allows a jacket, extra clothes, or a Fillo™ to be stuffed into the sleeve opening for a handy pillow-on-the-go. Zippered stash pocket keeps your phone or other essentials warm and within reach. Full length double slider #5 YKK zipperwith snag guard built into the draft tube makes getting in and out of the bag a breeze.

Now that you have all the specifics of the bags and have seen a few images it’s time for all you side sleepers to shout for joy and pick up a sleeping bag that fits your personal needs. Will it be the down options of the Disco, Rave, Riff and Jam or will you go with the less expensive synthetic models of the Forte and Viola. Weigh what you will be using the bag for and in what conditions and I’m sure deciding wont be that difficult. For me I am going with the 15 degree regular Riff. For more information on Nemo and all their awesome products check out their website at . Great company with a lot of great outdoor products.

MSR Family of Stoves – Who Doesn’t Want A Hot Meal?

When being outdoors for an extended amount of time, one can only choke down pre-made packaged bars made with an array of grains, seeds and other things that happen to be overly dry for so long before it’s time for something different.  Sure you can opt for a cold meal but who wants that when for minimal weight in your pack you can have a stove that gets you a hot meal and gets it to you quick.

So, why a camp stove over an open campfire?  The thought of a crackling, warm, open camp fire roaring in the middle of camp seems like an awesome experience.  Campfires are obviously an option but with restrictions on fire height, fire location, how to start the fire and keep it burning (fire starter, kindling, wood and some option to put it out) are all reasons a stove might be a better option.  Camp stoves are typically compact and easy to carry in a backpack and allow you to cook a hot meal incredibly fast.

Oh..  and what about starting a campfire when it’s been raining and everything is wet.  Not the easiest task.

Today is MSR day and I will post about competing stove manufacturers not only in the liquid fuel (alcohol or gas cartridges) space but also solid fuel (wood, charcoal, etc) models as well in the coming days.

I would image most of you have heard of MSR or Mountain Safety Research and probably have some of the gear they have been putting out since Larry Penberthy founded the company in 1969.  As the MSR website states – The fuel behind Larry’s passionate fire was a simple belief that still drives their team today – The Idea that better, safer, more reliable equipment is the key to unlocking greater adventures.

Over the past few weeks I have been looking over manufacturer websites and message boards trying to narrow down the exact new outdoor stove I want to have in my pack going forward.  As you know there are a multitude of options and I will post some of them in the coming days and weeks.  But..  first up is probably one of the industry leaders if not the leader – MSR.

Going to their website one can get overwhelmed with the large number of different stoves they offer and you can narrow them down by cooking style (boil, cook or simmer), group size (1-2 person or 3+ person), fuel type (canister, liquid or multi-fuel) and temperature range (more than 40 degrees, 10-40 degrees or less than 10 degrees)..  I think you get the picture that with all the options you can get a little confused on what you really need.  With that being said..  since I am OCD (which is a gift!) I created a spreadsheet listing each of the stoves and the parameters you can sort by to help me better decide what I want to purchase (Below is a shot of what I put together).

Hopefully the chart above can help someone else out and check out their site for not only stoves but a large number of other outdoor products.

On top of all the stove options MSR has a wide range of accessories from skillets, stock pot, sauce pot, coffee press, hanging kit, igniters, stands, pumps and much more.

I am going with the WindBurner Duo Stove so review coming in the near future.

In the upcoming days and weeks I will post about other stove brands so check back.

Up Next – The Stöker Flatpack Stove by Überleben


Survival Skills 101 – Backpacker Magazine

As I renewed my Backpacker Magazine subscription this morning I once again received the email with my two free downloads – America’s Best Loop Hikes and the pdf below – Survival Skills 101.  The majority of the information is stuff most outdoors folk know but still a great reminder.  Take a quick glance over just to refresh some survival tidbits you may have forgotten.  If you don’t spend much time on the Backpacker website you should.  There is a wealth of information out there so take a look.