Recent outdoor gear purchases – February 2014

Needing (and wanting) some new gear, I splurged a little and treated myself to a few items from a local consignment shop and the Varusteleka outdoors/military surplus shop. FYI, this blog post was not solicited in any way, and I paid for all the gear you see here.

One needed item was a factory-new 2.2 x 3 m (7.5′ x 10′) Mil-Tec tarp (€40/$55) from Varusteleka. Having come to prefer a tarp for shelter after experimenting with a cheap one for 4 – 5 months, but noticing that it was starting to wear out, I decided to buy a better quality one that would last a lot longer. At 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs), this polyester tarp is not exactly lightweight, but it does seem to be very durable, and that’s what I’m after. Since getting the tarp, I have made a few modifications to it. They’ll be covered in another post.

The other needed item was a sternum strap for a backpack (€3.75/$5), also from Varusteleka. I love my Swedish army LK-70 pack, but it lacks a sternum strap of its own. The new strap will help bring the shoulder straps closer together, making it more comfortable to wear.

The third item, once again from Varusteleka, was admittedly more in the “want” column than the “need” column. Having been thoroughly convinced of the superiority (in my opinion) of the boy’s axe or 3/4 axe for bushcraft and camping, I decided to pick up a “backup axe” (that is, backup to my vintage Gränsfors Bruks. I always like to have a spare backup knife, axe and saw at the ready at home).

If you’ve been following bushcraft blogs and forums for a while, you may be familiar with the Swedish military surplus axes which have been available for the past few years. Most of these axes are painted green from top to bottom, but I managed to get one that wasn’t painted like this (thanks for listening to my request, Varusteleka!). I found that the axe is significantly heavier than my current boy’s axe, which isn’t surprising, considering that the head is a full 350 g (0.75 lbs) heavier (quick specs on the new axe – head weight: 1.2 kg (2.75 lbs), overall weight: 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs), overall length: 68 cm (27 in)). Although this axe and my old Gränsfors are almost exactly the same length, the head weight is right in the middle between my Gränsfors and my honkin’ Council Tool Jersey Classic. Just by the weight and feel of this axe, I can tell it will outperform the vintage Gränsfors, so after trying it out, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes my new favorite. Aside from some surface rust and marks on the handle (which I have since removed), the axe is in great shape, with no hints whatsoever of cracks in the handle or any dings in the blade edge. Needless to say, I’m very happy about getting a classic Hults Bruks axe in such good shape for only €15/$20! By the way, it came with the standard olive green leather sheath all the others are supplied with. If anyone out there has an idea of when this axe could have been made, please let me know! I know that it’s pre-1988 because there are no Hultafors markings, but I don’t know anything other than that.

Last, but not least (well, it is the least in terms of cost), is a Swedish army mess kit (€2.50/$3.50). I picked this item up from a local consignment shop in town. Normally, the Swedish mess kit is comprised of a pot, a lid for the pot which doubles as a smaller pot or frying pan, an alcohol stove, a windscreen and a fuel bottle. The set I bought was missing the burner, windscreen and fuel bottle, but that’s fine with me, because I don’t need those items anyway. Over the years, I had seen this kit many times online, in use by friends and in shops, but I never bought one. Seeing the advantages in this set over my current pot and kettle, I figured I’d buy it and see if it met my needs better. The one thing I’m not crazy about is the fact that it’s aluminum, but I don’t cook with my camping cook set on a daily basis, so I don’t think there’s any need for concern.

You can expect to see more of this gear in the near future as I test it and put it through its paces. Stay tuned!

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14 comments on “Recent outdoor gear purchases – February 2014

  1. Excellent price for an excellent axe!

  2. tinderness says:

    I do use the same MilTec tarp you have bought for one year now and I am very satisfied with it as the material is very sturdy and will not suffer a lot by fire sparks. It holds the rain perfectly and it does not make a lot of noise like plastic material.The only weak point seem to be the seams with which the straps are fixed to the tarp. To make sure that they will not get off or rip the tarp material I recommend to resew them before use. This is what I did after I lost two straps by putting too much tension on them. Nevertheless, have fun with the tarp I finally like very much.

  3. wgiles says:

    Do you have a preference for tie straps or grommets in your tarps? Most of my tarps have grommets rather than tie straps. I seldom have problems with the grommets pulling out and i can replace the grommets pretty easily. A lot of the older tarps had little pieces of thin leather to reinforce the grommets.

    • I prefer grommets. I have shortened the length of the tie-outs on my new tarp and will see how it works out (as it comes, they are REALLY long). If I’m not happy with it, I’ll install some rugged grommets instead.

  4. stellingsma2010 says:

    great posting and love the gear 🙂 happy trails for u my friend 🙂

  5. BelgianBirkebeiner says:

    Looks like a great axe, so does the tarp! Having a Wetterlings Bushcraft Axe I am also looking for a slightly bigger ‘backup’. I’ve seen these all green axes in my local dumpstore, think I’ll give them a try after reading this 🙂

  6. Those army axes are bombproof and, as I understood it, of excellent quality, before this company became such a highflying outdoor/bushcraft company. This means the prices are still affordable.
    That tarp looks interesting, but I think I’ll give making my own a go someday. I have this derelict familytent-cloth…..
    That messkit… well.. I love/hate it. Still haven’t made up my mind, but I tend to go for my bsa-kit more and more. I’ll probably asign that army messkit to the wintercarkit. Ideal for going out with kids though. Makes a quick brew.

    I am so glad varusteleka is in Finland and that the shippingcost keeps putting me off from buying there. 😉

    • A vintage axe really is a fine thing! They were made so well back in the day. I really prize the ones I have. 🙂

      I thought about making my own tarp, but we don’t have a sewing machine. I normally do all my sewing by hand, but I don’t know if I want to get arthritis by trying to do all the sewing on a tarp by hand. 😉 I’d love to see what you come up with, Ron!

      We’ll see how it goes with the mess kit. It was so cheap that I figured it’s no big loss if I don’t like it.

      Thanks for the comments!

  7. Rev says:

    Reblogged this on Free from Tech Life and commented:
    I wish we could get such good pricing on kit here.

    • Thanks for the reblog! I’ll be sure to check out your blog as well. 🙂

      If I were you, I’d check with Varusteleka to see how much it would cost for them to send gear to you in the UK. Might be cheaper than buying from shops there!

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