Monday, April 27, 2020

GEAR REVIEW - 10 Tools for Quarantine

How many weeks have we been in quarantine of some sort?  I've lost track but I do know that I've spent a lot of the Sundays, along with a few week days off, in the woods that surround our home laying down dead trees, taking load after load of brush and vines to the burn pile and waking up the next morning sore in places that I'm not usually sore.  Am I getting old?  I'm starting to feel that way. 

As I was wrapping up woods work last Sunday in the rain, I went over a mental list of the gear that's made a difference with these outdoor projects and then snapped a quick photo with the essentials laid out on the PAKMULE for a quick gear review to share.  Here's the breakdown in alphabetical order...

I'm not sure where I first saw these since I can't find a company website anywhere but I ordered a pair of these goggles from Amazon five or six years ago and they are always nearby my chainsaw.  I also keep them handy when I edge or trim as well.  The steel mesh lenses won't fog like other protective goggles and I find them comfortable to wear.

Now all that said, you're going to look silly in them as they live up to the name "Bug-z Eye".  Your kids will laugh and you'll have two perfectly protected eyes to see their amusement.

Amazon seems like the best place to pick up a pair for yourself.

Over the years I've gotten to play with a lot of different multi-tools from the various makers and the one that I reach for most is the Gerber Center-Drive.  There are a multitude of configurations of tool, bit set and sheath offered in this "Made in USA" multi-tool but they all boil down to a well thought out design with spring loaded pliers that slide out to engage.  The real winner with this tool is the swing arm bit driver.  I keep it in my tool bag and constantly grabbing it to tighten, loosen or take apart something. 

The Gerber Center-Drive is a well thought out multi-tool where everything included is full size and makes sense which is more than I can say for a lot of other similar tools out there.

For years I've worn (and worn through) cheapie leather gloves from the hardware store.  The finger tips usually give out first and then it's downhill from there.  Time to break in another pair or maybe consider a better glove.  Enter Give'r gloves...

Some time back I ordered a full set of gloves from Give'r (if I remember correctly they sent a pair to demo and I ordered the two other pairs to complete the set) and have used the Lightweight Gloves for outside work and camp chores, the lined Classic Gloves for cold days and then the 4-Season Gloves for skiing, tubing, sledding and snow play.

After a lot of hours working in the woods the Lightweight Gloves have outlasted any leather glove I've worn before.  When and if these wear out, I'll get another pair.  I think the initials burnt into the glove is a nice touch too.

One note on ordering, I'm usually a medium in gloves and ordered all three of these gloves in size large following their size chart.  I think I'd have a better hand fit in size medium, especially in the Lightweight and Classic gloves and will go that route next go around.

Almost twenty years ago my wife's grandmother gifted us a piece of land which is part of a much larger family property (measured in hundreds of acres) where we had our house built.  The first step however was to clear the land and since where our house sits was heavily wooded, I needed a chainsaw.

The Husquvarna 350 was the first of what seems like too many outdoor tool purchases and simply put, it's outlasted them all.  I can't speak for the current line up of Husquvarna chainsaws but this 350 has done a ton of work over the years with hardly a hiccup.  It went to the small engine repair shop this spring for a tune up, I replaced the bar last week and it continues to perform.

Future planning a bit, I'd like to add the Husquvarna 535i XP to the kit for limbing and carrying along on camping trips. Battery powered tools are making huge strides from where they were just a few years ago and having one of these around would be handy for sure.

The ability to play music and podcasts are a big part of keeping me going when working outside and instead of headphones (likely turned up too loud) I've opted to use a speaker with the Kicker Bullfrog BF400.  These speakers are outdoor ready, tough and weather-proof.

We have a couple of these speakers and these provide great sound, have connectivity between multiple speakers to increase or extend that sound, feature a built in FM tuner and there's even an app to use on your mobile phone which puts the speaker controls in your hand.

We've had these long enough that I ended up having an issue with one of the BF400's not taking a charge.  A email exchange with the warranty department provided a seamless return and we had a new speaker back in just a few days.

Not sure how long the sale will last but the BF100 and BF400 are on priced right online.   

Keeping tools sharp is paramount and to brush up the edge of everything from a shovel to axes to the Woodman's Pal, the Lansky Puck (with a couple drops of oil) is my go-to.  The dual grit puck is easy to use in sharpening your outdoor tools and I'm not sure they ever wear out.  Buy this kit for less than $20 and you'll always have it when you need it. 

I've written about the Wetland boots several times before (read HERE and HERE) and I'll never not have a pair around.  These boots are comfortable, waterproof and handy for work or play.  When not in the woods, they are great for cool mornings getting in and out of the kayak down at the pond. 

This first pair is starting to show their age and I've patched them in a few spots from thorns tearing up the uppers but they still perform.  It'll be time for a new pair at some point but until then these will keep working.

We have a hopped up electric golf cart with a truck style bed in the back and by adding the PAKMULE to the hitch it more than doubles the space that I can pile up logs, limbs and brush when making trips to the burn pile.  This means less trips and a ton more capacity.

The PAKMULE has been featured in countless Instagram Stories on my feed but you can also circle back and read past T.F.M. posts HERE, HERE and HERE on how this hitch carrier has changed how we travel and work.

I've owed Kansas at PAKMULE a full review for some time now (It's coming, I promise...) but both the original PAKMULE and the PAKMULE Ridgeline are constantly in use on our 4Runner, Element and golf cart.

If you're interested in purchasing a PAKMULE, let me know with an email.  I believe there is a deal in place for T.F.M. readers that I can pass along before you order.

There are few tools that have the story that the Woodman's Pal does and what's most telling is that a design that was first released in 1941 is largely unchanged almost 80 years later.   The Woodman's Pal is a cutting and chopping tool like none other that I've used.  The design of the Woodman's Pal creates a balanced tool that trims, prunes and chops with ease.  It's almost scary how easy it can be to work through limbs and trees when clearing.

Not too long agao, Woodman's Pal was bought out by a new company and they have made a few enhancements to the product with a ergonomic wood grip and it's housed in a much higher quality leather sheath.  Now included too is a Lansky Sharpening Stone which is a nice touch over the small (kinda useless/not user friendly) stone that was provided before.

One note on sharpening your Woodman's Pal with the Lansky stone or puck, with just a little bit of work it will be scary sharp and it holds it's edge for a long time too.  

Over the years I've gifted the Woodman's Pal to several fly fishing guides as it's perfect to have in the boat for situations on tight woods choked rivers where you need to clear a way through.

Use code "TFM" for $20 off and free shipping of a Woodman's Pal of your own.  This discount is good through Father's Day.

Hours in the woods means that you need to stay hydrated and the largest bottle in the Rambler line up from YETI is my choice.   I fill with ice to begin the day and just refill water as needed.

The Rambler is made of 18/8 stainless steel, available in a mix of DuraCoat colors and currently is offered with the new Chug Cap which I'm a big fan of.

Well, that's my mix of tools used in heavy rotation here.  I'm off today which means I'll likely be in the woods doing more of this all afternoon.

Not into tools and more into fly fishing?  Me too.  Look for "10 for Spring -Warmwater Edition" and "10 for Spring - Trout Edition" coming soon...

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