Envirofit High-Efficiency Cookstoves

About 4 million (with an “M”) people die every year from excessive exposure to biomass smoke.  And, considering that upwards of 3 billion (with a “B”) people still depend on the constant use of crude stoves and open fires, the adverse impact on the environment is also substantial.  While most deaths and endless cycles of chronic illness occur in developing countries and remote communities, such stats should still give the rest of us “recreational” burners at least some pause the next time we come down with camper’s-cough or charcoal-throat.

So where are we going with this?  Well, the global effort to address these health and environmental concerns has resulted in numerous innovations in biomass cook/heat stoves.  Simply put … burn less wood, charcoal, dung or whatever … but cook/heat more, faster, easier, better and cleaner.  But while most designs may make sense in a hut in Africa, they also tend to have little appeal or practical use for recreational or general consumers.  The exception being the growing product-line of Envirofit.

Their line of high-efficiency wood and coal stoves are cleaner, mobile, simple, compact, durable, and handsome.  In other words, we’d buy these … for the campsite, the RV, the backyard, the patio, the cabin, the tailgate and (for all you Doomsday prepper types) … for the bunker.  And besides quality and value, you get bragging rights for owning a cookstove that offers:
  • Up to 80% less smoke & toxic emissions
  • Up to 60% less CO2
  • Up to 40% less Black Carbon
  • Up to 50% less cook time
  • Up to 60% less fuel
  • Up to 40% increase in cooking efficiency

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Find reviews on Amazon

Hennessy Jungle Hammocks

With the onset of space-age camping and field gear, the old adage “travel light is to suffer at night”, is far less true these days.  Back in the day, packing light meant packing less.  But now we have ultralight this and ultralight that … making it less of a drag to pack items like a tent system, a sleeping pad or inflatable, etc.  But even if you could afford the “latest and greatest”, the question is … why would you want to sleep on the ground anyway?   Two words … Jungle Hammock.

Why?  Well, lots of reasons:
  • It’s not just for the jungle.  Depending on make and model, you can have 4-season functionality or apply fieldcraft to that effect.
  • It keeps you off the ground … away from the creepy, crawling and slithering creatures, as well as out of the path of any other vermin that might inadvertently pay you a visit.
  • It shields and protects you from the relentless swarms of flying and biting insects.
  • It makes site selection less critical.  Non-level, rocky, overgrown, inclined, or soggy terrain?  No problem.
  • It’s a tent, a bed, a chair, a lounger, and a gear loft.
  • It can still be used as a ground shelter in a pinch.
Why patented Hennessy Hammocks?  Uhmm, lots of reasons:
  • Bottom/center balance entry design for easier (and safer) mounting and exiting.
  • Diagonal axis and integral ridgeline design offers greater comfort, alternative sleep positions, roominess, and consistent form.
  • Closure design uses your weight to automatically seal the entrance upon entry, while a full Velcro seal further secures you’re space and prevents inadvertent opening.
  • Rugged, lightweight, bug proof, waterproof, and wind proof, with various size and multi-climate options.
  • Tree-friendly rigging, a gear pocket, glove hooks, D-Ring loops (for more gear), multiple Rainfly options, and a quick-stuff sack system.
  • Fast, straightforward setup and take-down, with no flexible expansion poles required.

Now don’t get us wrong, there are other expedition-grade hammock brands out there, all of which have features and attributes well worth considering.  But for us, the novel bottom-up entry method and the flatter body position achieved by the diagonal sleep design combines to make all the difference.  That, along with the fact that it’s still a simple compact design and maintains an otherwise traditional look, all went far enough for us in sealing the deal.

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Factory-Treated Insect Repellent Apparel & Gear

What’s worse than a bad weather day spent outdoors?  For most, it’s trying to enjoy a good weather day while under relentless (and seemingly coordinated) air and ground attack from various insects.  Back in the day, the only defense was to pull out the dreaded bug spray ... hold your breath, close your eyes and mouth, and do your best to cover your skin and clothes with repellent.  Not as bad as applying sunscreen to your sandy self at the beach, but still a drag.

While not much progress has been made when it comes to protecting exposed skin, the use of Permethrin to pretreat clothing and gear has done much to improve the quality of life outdoors.  But until more recently, this widely used insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent still had to be self-applied and allowed time to dry prior to wearing.  So it’s still a drag unless, that is, you're smart enough to invest in a wardrobe of factory-treated field garb.  Let a commercial manufacturer do it and you don’t need to worry about oversaturation, uneven application, skin contact, inhalation, or having to prep your gear in advance.

The factory process binds the permethrin formula tightly to the outer fabric fibers (not the inside surface touching your skin) … resulting in safe, highly effective, odorless insect protection against many diverse species of biting, sucking, chewing, scaling, flying, and otherwise fugly little buggers.  And even better, the factory-treatment is designed to last the expected lifetime of the garment.  So let 'em try and bite on that!

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Via Ferratas --- Global "Iron Road" Adventures

Perhaps you’ll never see the inside of a climbing gym, let alone find the time or money to attend a technical mountaineering course.  But if you think that excludes you from extreme alpine adventure, you’d be wrong.  Picture yourself traversing the side of a remote high-altitude cliff.  Keeping you steady in the gusty wind and safe from certain death is only a minimal safety harness, your own body strength, and a chain-link handhold.  It’s all you up there … no formal training, no excess equipment, and no help except maybe from the other tourists anchored to the very same steel cable as you.  Sound cool?  We agree, and it’s called Via Ferrata (Iron Way/Road) Climbing.

Better described as Via Ferrata “Trek-Climbing”, these increasingly popular excursions combine rigorous hiking (along dangerously exposed mountain routes) with white-knuckled rock climbing, scaling and scrambling.  But unlike technical climbing, Via Farrata accents are “protected” routes made more accessible to laymen through the varied use of carved stone steps and walkways, handrails and handholds, iron rungs and wooden stemples, fixed ladders and rope bridges, wood planking  and (most importantly) preinstalled safety cables.  In other words, these vertical challenges are “Via Attrezzata” (well-equipped routes).


Since Via Ferratas are found throughout the world, levels of safety, difficulty and inherent danger vary greatly … as does climbing etiquette and regulations.  In North America, for example, the “sport” is new so locations are limited and liability issues may dictate stricter requirements.  In contrast, Europe (long-since considered the mecca for this activity) offers hundreds of routes, as well as the more free-spirited and festive experience one might expect from regions steeped in Alpine tradition.  While at the other end of the spectrum are the exotic locations of Asia, South America, and elsewhere … where some climbs might better be described as a more of a free-for-all rather than freestyle.

Many locations offer equipment rentals (Via Ferrata Kits/Sets).  While you can often trust the rigs offered by many outfitters … others, maybe not so much.  So it might be worth it to drop a few bucks on your own kit … a name brand harness, lanyard with shock absorber, carabineers, and preferably all UIAA approved. Just check for product recalls from time to time.  As for headgear, the rules vary like motorcycle helmet laws.  But if you think riding a bike without a helmet is dumb, then you’ll probably feel the same about playing in a falling rock zone without one.  And accessories … like special boots, fancy tech clothes, gloves, etc … that’s your call, but don’t be surprised to meet folks up there wearing sandals and swim shorts.

So while it’s often said that there’s a fine line between dangerous and stupid, the fact that such routes are designed to mitigate most risk to the inexperienced public serves to take a lot of the “stupid” out of any aspirations you might have of summiting one of these peaks.  Sure, people still risk life and limb doing this stuff and deaths do occur worldwide.  But managed danger is the attraction, right?  So dust off your bucket-list, pick a continent to visit, select an Iron Road to conquer … and just do it!

Learn more?

Find Via Ferrata gear reviews on Amazon

T-N-T & PARATECH Axe Multi-Tools

OK …so you’re not a fireman, member of a tactical assault team, disaster responder, general contractor, zombie apocalypse prepper, or in any other occupation that would require either forcible entry or demolition tools.  But so what?

Great multipurpose tools (like these two axe hybrids) are a wickedly smart choice for anyone that might need an all-in-one means to chop, hammer, smash, twist, crush, pull, push, pry, poke, puncture, lift, yank, ram, cut or spit.  And even if you don’t have an immediate need or project in mind … trust us … hold one of these things in your hands for few moments and you’ll think of one!

You can go big or you can go small.  But we recommend you go both.  Make any of the various TNT models your larger go-to heavyweights, and then compliment your bag of tricks with one of the more compact, portable and personal PARATECH variations.