27 February 2013

R3 Ruck Project Part 1

 Here we go with another project in the works. The R3 Ruck Project. I am not about to proclaim I am a diehard eco-Evangelist, but will promote when and where possible it is a good use of resources and technology to reduce, re-use or recycle. Thus R3. As for the ruck, I started with an older Camp Trails Ponderosa. Purchased for a $1 at the Church garage sale.

So, this project starts by reducing, by not having to purchase new. Sorry, to the gear stores. The pack frame, still in very good condition is being re-used. This welded aluminum frame was state-of-the-art in the 1970's. The pack bag and harness are outdated and in need of replacement. The back band will, also, be re-used at this time.

 The project required fabric, plastic buckles, poly-pro webbing, and lots of thread.

The Cordura fabric, webbing, buckles, zippers and thread all came from PacCana Enterprises Ltd (Calgary, AB). I have been well treated there since 1995. It is very important to establish a good relationship with your suppliers.

The fabric for the storm collar, is a windbreaker type nylon with a PU backing. I have had it for a couple of years, and do not recall where it was purchased from. (See still re-using supplies!!)

First task was to remove the old pack bag. It was secured with an assortment of metal clips, wire and nuts and bolts. Hey, it worked.

With the exception of a couple of dents in the frame tubes, the frame was in excellent condition for being more than 30 years old.

In part two, I will post the drawings I worked from, you may enjoy them. The design I decided on was a variable geometry pack. I have made many of these in the past. What does that mean - variable geometry??? It means you can change the shape and/or size of the pack by adding or removing pockets or pouches.

The first items to be made were the removable side and front pockets. They zip on and off the main ruck. These extra pockets are meant to hold "light & fluffy" stuff. Extra fleece jacket, down jacket or vest. Or similar types of bulky but lightweight gear.

Further, the front pocket can be converted to a sling pack for day tripping away from base camp.

Next the main ruck bag was built. 

I, incorporated a row of M.O.L.L.E. compatible webbing on the headache rack above the  main bag. This will allow specialized gear pouches to be used with this ruck. Everything from canteen pouches to first aid pouches.

The top lip of the ruck main bag was finished with nylon seam tape to reduce the chance of the Cordura from fraying.

Next, the storm-collar was added  to the ruck main bag. This is a PU backed nylon fabric, light, tough and weather resistant - perfect for keeping sand, snow or rain from getting inside the ruck bag. I would still suggest packing all gear inside dry bags or Ziploc freezer bags to ensure a higher degree of weatherproofness.

The storm-collar also, allows the main ruck to be "over" packed, and still keep the gear in your rucksack. An important feature if you ever have to pack up quickly and get on the trail in a hurry.

The next feature constructed was the top pocket or the lid if you may.

The top pocket is removable, by use of side release buckets. The webbing allows the top pocket to adjust from firmly on top of the main ruck bag or rising a few more inches above to accommodate extra gear quickly packed. Or in those first aid incidents in the back country where you have to pack your buddy's gear out, too.

There are plenty of gear loops to attach those extras you just have to take with you. But cannot be hidden inside, like a machete, axe, snow shovel (winter camping) or a glowstick. 
For those familiar with the USMC sleep system that would be that very same sleep system inside the black valise. For those not familiar the USMC sleep system includes the black valise with vertical compression straps, a woodland camouflage Gore-tex bivy bag, a black sleeping bag and a lightweight olive green patrol sleeping bag.

What's next......A new waist belt and shoulder straps, as well as, a set of A7A straps to cinch everything together.

I will post an update, hopefully before the end of March 2013.

Yes, I am also working on the Pelican Toboggan covers at the moment but they are not ready, yet. Let's see how the next few days go. Fingers crossed.

Until next time.....keep your gear packed and ready to go!!


26 February 2013

The Gerber Prodigy

Gerber Prodigy, Para-Frame I & Para-Frame Mini
 Some new gear for a new year. Yah!

A Christmas gift card well invested. I converted my gift card into a Gerber Prodigy. And I am very satisfied with the exchange.

You are looking at the Gerber Prodigy and you are saying to yourself, that knife looks very familiar.....If you scroll to the bottom of the page and check out the last photo, you will notice that the Gerber LMF II and the Prodigy share many features, including good looks.

For those not familiar with the Gerber line of knives I had better get some of the basic stats out for you to know the Gerber Prodigy a little better.
Overall length of the Prodigy +/- 9 7/8"
Blade length +/- 4 1/2"
Blade width +/- 1 3/16"
Blade thickness +/- 3/16"
Blade type half serrated
Sheath Overall length +/- 10 3/4"
Sheath width +/- 2 1/2"

Gerber Prodigy

Gerber LMF II
The Gerber Prodigy is a full tang design, the metal of the blade continues straight through the handle to the glass break pommel and lanyard hole. One piece of steel. This is the strongest knife construction design. Knives with hollow handles or welded tail stock are noticeably weaker than a full tang blade when using the knife in a survival situation. The half serrated blade is great for cutting cord or rope, but not so handy when trying to make a feathered stick to help light your campfire. For those who really, really do not like serrated blades, a quick solution is to file away the serrations. The glass break on the pommel is a neat idea, should you ever find yourself in a motor vehicle collision and have to extricate yourself from a burning vehicle through a window. In such a case, I would recommend a high, inverted mount of the sheath on your gear vest. 

Speaking of mounting the sheath for the Prodigy. The included sheath can be worn or mounted in a number of ways, depending on what best meets your needs at the time or your mission. As you may notice in the pics, there are mounting holes to lash the sheath to just about anything. In addition, there is the standard belt loop to hang the Prodigy from your waist belt. There are also M.O.L.L.E. compatible straps on the back of the sheath. So,  the Gerber Prodigy can be carried on any of your M.O.L.L.E. vests, bags, pouches or packs/rucks. My biggest concern with the sheath, although well constructed in China, is the lack of double or triple stitching for the main belt loop. There is very little chance the Prodigy will fall out of the sheath as it incorporates a friction lock to securely hold the knife in place. My concern is that with only one row of stitching holding the belt loop that in time, with field wear the stitches may fray and then belt loop will open. Maybe, Gerber has field tested this sheath and my concern is not valid. Only time will tell. Other sheath features include two thumb break handle straps - to ensure the Gerber Prodigy will not accidentally fallout of the sheath when mounted inverted on the shoulder of your gear vest or ruck harness. A leg strap is included to keep the Prodigy from slapping your leg while running, when mounted on a waist belt. If, there were two leg straps the sheath could be secured to your lower leg, like a dive knife for scuba diving. 

The most noticeable feature missing from the Gerber Prodigy, when compared to its big brother the Gerber LMF II, is the hammer pommel. That big block of steel at the pommel end of the LMF II, which can be used as a hammer in a survival situation.

All-in-all, I am very please with my Gerber Prodigy and look forward to having with me in the field for years and decades to come.

Until next time, 

Keep your knife sharp and close by!!  


4 February 2013

Project Pelican 45 Toboggan Part One

 Time for a new project. This project starts with a stock Pelican Snow Trek 45 toboggan. Recently purchased from a local Canadian Tire store, for about $24, on sale of course. Full price around $40.

The toboggan measures approximately 20" wide by 45" long by 8" tall. Inside dimensions are of course, smaller. Material: Plastic.
 This toboggan is the right size for one person's camping gear. Winter is the time to pull your gear instead of packing it on your back. 

The challenge is, the pull cord on this toboggan is a little on the weanie side. We need to beef it up.
 Off to the local Peavey Mart store to get some hardware. Eye bolt and ring assembly 3/8" x 2 1/2" ($2.69), 2x 1/4"x2" carriage bolts + washers + nuts, sold by the pound ($0.51). Hardware = $3.20 + GST. The plywood was scraps I had in the shed. The outside piece is 5/8" plywood 4" x 6.5" and the inside piece is 3/8 plywood 4" x 5.75".

So, for the first part of this project we are still under $30.
 To prepare the plywood, I drew a centre line put a 3/8" hole at the centre and then put a 1/4" hole 2" above and below the 3/8" hole.

Then I transferred the hole placements to the toboggan.

Note: It is probably best to a fix one bolt and then drill the remaining holes through the toboggan and the inside piece of plywood. I had to drill a second bottom hole through the inside piece of plywood because the holes did not align properly for the bottom carriage bolt to go through. Ooops. My bad. 

Next insert the bolts and snug the plywood together.
It may take more than one tightening to get the plywood tight enough to get the washers on. I was only able to get the small flat washer on the eye bolt on the inside. I still have the large flat washer and lock washer. If in the future the eye bolt needs to be re-tightened I may develop more space and will use the other washers in the future.

Speaking of the future, this toboggan now needs a fabric cover and a harness. I will be making the traces out of 1" tubular webbing, mil-spec with a breaking strength around 2500 lbs. 

Colours to be determined. Red and blue 1" tubular webbing shown in the last pic. 

This modification will not likely be silent, as there is metal on metal contact with the pull ring and the eye bolt, but I was not making a tactical toboggan anyways. 

One of my suppliers sells a 420 denier pack cloth in white and I think that is what the cover will be made from. 

I will try to upload part two in a couple of weeks once I have built the cover. Then I will attach the cover to the toboggan. It will be laced on. Then this toboggan will be ready for a trip to the field.

Until next time.......keep your gear covered!!!