• Outdoor Cookware: A Look at Toaks Titanium

    Posted by Cody Durivage

    Cookware has evolved quite a bit since the introduction of the perfect backpacking and bushcraft cookware material, titanium. Titanium is stronger than aluminum and lighter than steel.  It has a melting point over 3,000 degrees (F), higher than steel or aluminum, so you're able to go very thin with it.  This makes strong, corrosion resistant, ultralight cookware.

    Currently our favorite player in the game is Toaks Outdoors.  Toaks thinks in depth about every design element, and if they have an issue, they fix it.  For this reason we decided to start selling their gear.

    - POTS -
    Generally, your primary piece of cookware is your cooking pot.  In some  cases this may be the only thing you need to bring.

    A short, wide pot has more surface area on the bottom, making it better for placing above the heat source.  Anyone who uses a stove, or prefers to hang their pot from a bail, would prefer a wide pot's slightly faster boil time.

    Toaks 900ml (left), 700ml (right)

    This style of pot is very common for ultralight through-hikers usually use a stove or who don't require a bail.

    Toaks 900ml on top of the siphon alcohol stove
    Toaks 900ml on siphon alcohol stove

    A tall, narrow pot has most of its surface area on its sides, which make it ideal for setting next to a fire, especially down-wind with the flames blowing directly on to it.  Boiling water this way does not require a bail, but if the pot does have a bail, hanging the pot low in the fire and down-wind works best.  Taller pots often conveniently nest a stove and fuel canisters

    The 750ml pot with bail is an example of a taller pot.
    Toaks 750ml with bail

    A pot which is close to the same height and width is the most versatile, great for changing up your cooking methods.  If you add a bail, the pot becomes even more versatile.

    The 1100ml, 1300ml (pictured), and 1600ml are all examples of pots with a close height and width with a bail.
    Toaks 1300 bail

    All of Toaks pots with bails; left to right; 750ml, 1100ml, 1300ml, and 1600ml
    toaks 750 1100 1300 1600

    All of Toaks pots with bails; top to bottom; 750ml, 1100ml, 1300ml, and 1600ml
    Toaks 750 1100 1300 1600

     

    - CUPS -
    An ideal outdoor cup will be pretty close to the same height and width.  This type of cup will work just as good for a hot drink as it will a bowl for eating.  A versatile cup can work as a substitute for a full-sized pot on day trips, especially if it comes with a lid.  Toaks makes a few different cups, but we are currently only selling the 550 light version.  The 550 light has an almost equal height and width, where as the others are tall and skinny, and the 550 has a bigger capacity than the other cups, yet it weighs less.

    For size comparison, the Toaks 550 cup / pot (left), Toaks 1600 (right)
    Toaks 550 (left), 1600 (right)

    Toaks 550ml
    Toaks 550

     

    - PANS -
    A frying pan is often the first cookware item which is left behind when shaving weight.  But luckily today instead of bringing a 4 pound cast-iron skillet you can bring a 2 ounce titanium plate or pan.  Cooking with a thin titanium pan does require you to pay close attention and use less intense heat to avoid burning your food, but you can't beat having a pan in the woods.

    Toaks pans, from top to bottom; 145ml, 130ml, 115ml
    Toaks pans 115ml, 130ml, 145ml pan

    A titanium pan will have steeper sides than the plate and will have handles built in.  The handles are convenient, and these pans go up to a 5.7 inch diameter.  These pans nest with certain pots, substituting the lid.

    The Toaks titanium plate (top center) is larger than all of the pans at 190mm, though it has no handle
    Toaks titanium plate and pans

    If you're looking for a wider pan with more shallow sides then you can use the titanium plate.  You can use it with pot-grabbers you pack in, or even better, you can improvise a handle or pot-grabbers in the woods.

    Example of an improvised handle for the titanium plate; split a stick, keep a natural knot at the base of the stick to prevent continuous splitting, wedge a small stick inside to pivot on
    Toaks titanium plate

     

    - UTENSILS -
    It is the most convenient to bring a knife/fork/spoon set in the woods.  For many people it's well worth the slight compromise in weight to bring a full set versus just a spork.  That compromise is even smaller if your knife/fork/spoon set is made of titanium.

    Toaks titanium knife, fork and spoon set
    Toaks knife fork spoon set

    If you're rather weight conscious, you're better off settling for just a spoon or a spork.

    Toaks titanium ultralight spork, 12.5 grams
    Toaks ultralight spork

    If you eat a lot of dehydrated meals out of the package, or directly from a pot, the long-handle spoon or long-handle spork are great choices.

    Toaks long-handled spoon with polished bowl; the length is useful for eating from dehydrated meal bags or directly from a pot
    Toaks long handle spoon with polished bowl

     

     - STOVES -
    Naturally, there is nothing more lightweight and traditional than cooking with a campfire.  However, in some areas campfires are not permitted, or perhaps you want to boil/cook more quickly with less hassle.

    The easiest and fastest stoves to use are canister stoves.  These are convenient, and may be the only way to cook in very cold conditions or very high altitudes.  But in most situations canister stoves are traded in favor for other alternatives.

    An alcohol stove is lighter than a canister stove, and on a resupply almost any convenience or hardware store carries denatured alcohol.  Improvised alcohol stoves work decently well, but they don't have the efficiency of a true siphon alcohol stove.  The Toaks siphon alcohol stove is surprisingly small and light, yet produces a substantial flame.

    Toaks siphon alcohol stove with wire frame pot stand
    Toaks siphon alcohol stove

    A wood burning stove is a great choice if you want to combine the self-reliance of a campfire with the efficiency of a stove.

    Toaks wood burning stove woodgas

    A regular box stove or "hobo stove" essentially contains a small campfire.  A woodgas stove actually turns the wood and smoke into a gas flame.

    Toaks wood burning woodgas stove

    These do take a bit of practice to stoke and work effectively, but they are very popular for an explorer in a desolate wilderness land.  Toaks makes two sizes of woodgas style stoves; regular and small.

    Toaks small wood burning stove (left), large wood burning stove (right)
    Toaks wood stoves

    We hope that this helped answer any questions might have had on the Toaks products we carry.  Thank you for your time - if you have any questions, feel free to ask below.

    Interested in purchasing some of this stuff?  Click here to be brought to our outdoor cookware collection.

  • Our Walnut Leather Strops with Interchangeable Leather Pads

    Posted by Cody Durivage

    Note: any image is a link directly to our leather strop product page

    A leather strop is a piece of leather which is used for de-burring, polishing, or sharpening a blade's edge.  For rigidity, strops are often fixed on to a wooden base.  The sharpening capabilities really shine when the leather is used in conjunction with compound or another abrasive paste, such as a diamond slurry.

    We wanted our strops to fix issues which we didn't like with a standard double-sided strop.  So we designed them a bit different.

    Many strops have a wooden base with leather pad glued to one side.  Some are double, or even four-sided, but they all have one thing in common - the leather pad is permanently glued to the board.  This creates a few issues for us:

    -1- If you use a variety of abrasive compounds on your strops (3+), then you're going to need multiple strops
    -2- If you are experimenting with compounds and load the strop with a crappy compound, it is quite difficult to get it out of the leather (if not impossible) without ruining the leather.  This is a problem when the leather is permanently fixed to the base.
    -3- If you set the strop on a surface when using it, the underside will annoyingly dirty the surface, and, even worse, the underside pad may absorb foreign matter, effecting the strop's efficiency

      So we thought, why not have removable leather pads?

      Replacement pads would be cheaper than owning multiple strops entirely, and would allow for a huge range of abrasives to be used.  If you charge one with some bad compound, it's only a $10 pad lost instead of the entire strop.

      After experimenting and ruling out a clamping system, we ended up deciding that velcro was the most efficient.  We're using the same linen thread that we use for our sheaths, as you can strop over the top of the linen with no problems.  In fact, many strops are made entirely of linen.

      By default the stropping area between the stitching is directly on top of the flat, sturdy walnut.  The strips for the velcro are towards the ends, and are countersunk to ensure the leather lays flat.

      We went with walnut because it's strong, and it won't discolor as noticeably from contact with various compounds as a lighter wood might.  The craftsmanship might look familiar, each base is handmade by Ed, the same guy who does our bucksaws.

      Seeing how the underside was freed up, we added non-slip rubber feet.  The feet add knuckle clearance when stropping.  For the same reason, the walnut we're using is a hefty 3/4 inches thick.  The contoured 5 inch handle keeps your hand a safe distance from the blade when stropping, and has a 5/16 inch hole for hanging it up or attaching a lanyard.

      In our experience, the ideal leather for stropping is a dense vegetable tanned cowhide.  The rougher flesh side works far more quickly than the smooth skin side, and it seems to take compound better.  However, some people do prefer the smooth skin side for a final touch.  The smooth side almost eliminates any micro-convexing of the cutting edge, which certain individuals like (such as those who sharpen straight-razors).

      Leather Pad Overall Size: 2 x 12.75 inches
      Distance between stitching: 9.5 inches

      We may come out with a couple variants down the road, such as an XL size and a small backpack size.  We'd love to hear your input in the comments below this post.  Thanks for checking these out!

      Current Price: $69.95 with one pad included
      Link to our Walnut Leather Strop product page

    1. The Uses of Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP

      Posted by Cody Durivage
      For years we looked for one single substance which could be used to treat the steel of our knives, the handle of our knives, and the leather sheaths all equally.  After a lot of experimenting with different substances, we finally found the ideal solution.  Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP is a natural beeswax/propolis blend.  Not only can it be used on the knife blade, the knife handle, and the leather sheath, but it works better in each of those categories than anything else we know of.  Coat your saws, axes, and other tools for ideal protection.
      What is Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP?
      Obenauf’s is a beeswax/propolis blend which was intended for leather protection in extreme conditions.  This was designed for wildland firefighters to apply to their boots, which were getting destroyed by the rugged use and the lye in the ash.
      Beeswax is weather-resistant and prevents things from getting wet or drying out.  Propolis is an antibacterial resin from trees that resists bacteria and mold. It is a barrier against body acids, salt, and caustic chemicals. Combining propolis with beeswax allows it to repel water more effectively and adds versatility.

      Applying
      To apply LP, simply get some on your hands and rub it in.  Of course make sure you have clean hands, and have cleaned off whatever you are applying it to.  The friction from applying it with your hands creates some heat, allowing it apply deeper.  Want a deeper initial penetration?  Lightly heat it up with a hair-dryer or put it at safe-distance near a campfire; just warm it up, a lot of heat is not necessary to liquify LP.
      We offer Obenauf's in 4 oz (left) and 8 oz (right)

       
      For Leather
      Obenauf’s “Heavy Duty Leather Protectant” is one of the most popular substances in the world for use on leather boots, belts, pouches, saddles, slings, motorcycle bags, gun holsters, knife sheaths, etc.  Three natural oils are suspended in the beeswax and propolis, which gradually seep out into the leather even after the initial application. If exposed to heat or flexing, the oils are only released faster, allowing the leather to get oiled when and where it needs it most, instead of getting parched and cracked. This time release lubrication keeps the inner fibers healthy while the surface is weatherproofed and reinforced against scuffing and abrasion.
      Like any healthy substance for leather, Heavy-Duty LP can darken leather, especially more porous leather.  Obenauf’s does not seem to darken the leather that we use for our sheaths, belts and pouches (unless you were to entirely saturate it via hot-waxing).
      We recommend using Heavy-Duty LP on all of our leather products
       
      For Wood
      Heavy-Duty LP provides an excellent protective finish for wood, bone, horn, and antler, and even helps seal any seams of a synthetic knife handle.  The antibacterial, antifungal propolis resists rotting, while the beeswax seals it and protects it from the elements (getting wet or drying out).
      LP puts a nice grippy, durable finish on axe handles and other tools.  Bring some with you to seal spoons and other bushcraft tools you make in the woods.
      We recommend using Heavy-Duty LP on knife handles and bucksaw handles
       
      For Metal
      The reason why we like Heavy-Duty LP for steel, brass, copper, and all other metals, is that it is the only substance we found that covers all of these bases;
      • Resists Rust.  Beeswax blends are excellent at repelling moisture on anything, including steel.
      • Durable and Thorough.  A waxy paste is ideal because it doesn’t bead up like oil, which leaves parts of the steel exposed.  Wax applies evenly and is more durable, so it won’t wipe away so easily in use.  A couple days after applying it to some metal it will become even more tacky and durable.
      • Food Safe.  There are no harmful chemicals so it is fine for food prep.
      • Antibacterial.  If you forget to wipe a knife blade off thoroughly after skinning a deer, preparing food, or filleting a fish, the antibacterial properties of the propolis will help prevent the bacteria from running rampant.  This is why it helps to also put LP on the interior of your sheath.
      We recommend using Heavy-Duty LP on your knife blades, axe heads, saw blades, and other tools for preventing rust
       
      Other Uses
      LP is a good substance to bring with you on a trip.  Some other uses for Heavy-Duty LP include:
      • Starting Fires.  Mush some into a cotton ball or tinder, and the beeswax let’s it burn like a candle.  You get a nice long burn time with HDLP soaked tinder.  For this reason, it’s not a bad idea to carry the wax in cotton ball form.  I dropped petroleum jelly cotton balls in favor for it.
      • Bow-Drill.  You can put some in the divot of the hand-hold part of a bow-drill for lubrication.
      • Dry Skin.  Works very effectively as a moisturizer.
      • Chapped Lips.  There is no need to bring lip balm when you have Obenauf’s.
      • Foot Care.  Beeswax and propolis allow your feet to breathe while protecting them from drying out, with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
      • Blister Prevention.  Apply a bit of this on a hot-spot and it will help resist the formation of a blister.
      • Beard & Moustache Wax.  Groom your facial hair if you happen to be a sophisticated woodsman.
      A cotton ball soaked with Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP makes great fire starting tinder
    2. The Woodsman Model: Inspired by Mors Kochanski

      Posted by Cody Durivage

      Here I'd like to take a quick look at our Adventure Sworn Woodsman bushcraft knife.  This knife was designed to be a general-use, versatile knife for use in the outdoors.

      The inspiration of the knife comes from two sources.  The first source is the Mora Classic; I've always loved the simplistic, time-tested design of this knife, and always wanted to see it's attributes on a full-tang custom knife.  The second source of inspiration is by the world famous bushcraft expert Mors Kochanski, a woodsman who loves Mora knives.  In Mors' book Bushcraft, Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival, Mors goes into detail about what he thinks makes a great bushcraft knife.  I agree with many of his points and kept true to many of his recommendations.

      Here I will show some attributes of the Woodsman model, supplemented with quotes by Mors Kochanski from his chapter on knifecraft.

      "The knife is the smallest and most portable of all the cutting tools. Light and unobtrusive, the knife is readily available for hundreds of everyday tasks in bush living."

      "The general-purpose bush knife should have a blade as long as the width of the palm, although blades half or twice this length are within acceptable limits. A blade five centimeters long would be an excellent survival knife except for being too small to fall and limb trees of wrist-thickness. A blade 10 to 15 centimeters long will do intricate work like carving a netting needle, yet be large enough to present a good target for a baton when cutting down small trees. A blade 20 centimeters long is a superior tool for heavy work, but awkward to use for fine work."

      "The blade should be of a good quality carbon steel, from two and a half to three millimeters thick and about two to two and a half centimeters wide. This size of blade is light in weight, yet difficult to break."  The Woodsman's standard is approximately 2.38 mm (15/16 inch) tall at the base, and 3mm (1/8 inch) thick at the spine.

      "The steel should be soft enough to be maintained at a shaving edge with common sharpening tools, without frequent sharpening." "Carbon, unlike stainless steel, can be used as the striker in the flint and steel method of fire-lighting. Inexpensive stainless steels have had a bad reputation with respect to producing a keen edge let alone holding it." The usual for the Woodsman is O1 high carbon tool steel, the gold standard for bushcraft use.

      "The metal of the knife blade should extend for the full-length of the handle (a full tang) for strength."

      The Woodsman model is plenty tough enough for downing wrist-thick trees and splitting them via batonning.

      A matching custom firesteel is an optional component

      "The knife handle should be about as long as the width of your palm. A handle that is too thick or too thin fatigues the hand and causes blisters. The cross-section of the handle should be an oval instead of round or rectangular. An oval handle provides an adequate indication of the direction of the cutting edge and raises fewer blisters than handles with angular or rounded corners."

      "A guard on a bush knife is in the way, and detracts from many operations. It prevents the use of a simple, secure deep sheath. Some people prefer a guard for fear of slipping forward onto the knife edge, but unless the knife is used for stabbing, the hand should never slip in this way. In all my years of instructing I do not recall an injury due to the lack of a guard."

       

      Thank you for taking a quick look at our Woodsman model.

       

    3. Stillwater Woods

      Posted by Cody Durivage

      A walk through the woods of Stillwater in summer.

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