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Unlike many fire starters, the BlastMatch from Ultimate Survival Technologies allows you to start fires using only one hand.  You might not think this is an important feature until you’re alone in the wilderness with an injured hand.

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Designed to be part of your basic camping gear, the 15″-long Gator combo axe by Gerber packs an axe and a razor-sharp 6″ saw in one 1lb 12oz package.

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It’s always sad to see a tool die in the line of duty.  Until this week, I owned eight of these 6″ mini-clamps from Irwin.  It seems that a 3-foot drop with a 2×4 in its jaw was a bit too much for one of these little blue clamps to handle; it snapped like a twig and sent  the smaller jaw skittering across the shop floor when it hit.  So now I’m down to seven — depressing.

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Vital Stove

I love my Coleman two-burner propane stove for camping, but it’s a little bulky and I’d recommend bringing extra tanks if you don’t want to run out in the middle of cooking a meal. In contrast, a small stove like this Vital Stove from SolHuma burns whatever dry combustible fuel you have, including wood, cardboard, twigs, straw, natural fibers, or animal dung — I’m not to sure about the last one — and leaves little residue.

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Quick temporary shelter — a shed when you need storage, a greenhouse for that last unexpected frost, or a portable outdoor workspace when the weather is getting nasty — can make the difference between ruin and success. With Finley’s Easy-Up structural resin joints you can quickly put together a structure with a peaked roof and lean-in sides for stability. And since the only lumber it requires is square-cut 2×2’s and 2×4’s, you don’t have to cut any odd angles or measure any miters.

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Tarp Hook

With Homax’s Tarp Hook you can reuse your empty plastic water or soda bottles by turning them into weights to keep your tarp in place. You can also make a bird feeder or insect trap out of ’em, clip ’em to your pack to carry some extra water, or replace those nailed-up baby-food jars with ’em.

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Pounding tent stakes into hardpan, into tree roots, into rock — into just about every impossible plastic-stake-breaking, metal-stake-bending situation there is — has been an American pasttime for as long as camping has been. These ScrewPegs should take some of the pain out of the situation.

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Woodcraft is having what they dub a “blowout” on Bessey clamps. Sunday car-sales pitches aside, they’re knocking about ten bucks off the larger Bessey clamps they have in stock, like 24” and 40” K-body clamps.

The clamps feature steel jaws and a non-marring, glue-resistant casing. It’s a “while supplies last” type of thing, so either they’re trying to get rid of overstock or Bessey is coming out with a new model soon and they don’t want these hanging around taking up space. Either way you can save a few bucks on some big clamps and add to the collection in the shop.

Bessey K-Body Clamps Sale [Woodcraft]


SkyScout front view.jpg

Have you ever gazed up at the starry night sky and wished you could remember more from high school astronomy than just the Big Dipper? With the Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium, you just point, shoot, and learn. The SkyScout uses GPS technology, calculation positioning software, and gravity and directional sensors to identify celestial objects and tell you all about them.

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Explorer Campfire Grill.jpg

Ah, summertime: it means camping, fishing, swimming, and, of course, burning your mouth on blackened hot dogs you jabbed on a stick and held too long in an open flame. Or does it? A variety of manufacturers make inexpensive campfire grills that claim to produce edible hot dogs, or even snazzier grill fare like kebabs. Most either screw-mount to a metal stake or have folding legs that can stand on uneven ground.

I’m inclined to think the stake-mounted model is preferable since you have more control over the distance between the heat source and the food. With the folding legs, you just have to hope it’s not sitting right in the fire or perched too far above the heat to cook properly. Also, the models from CampfireGrill feature a raised edge on all sides, which seems like a good idea (hence their slogan, “Our weenies never fall off!”). Street pricing starts around $15.

What do you think? Do campfire grills live up to the hype, or should I just go strip a branch and poke my dog the old-fashioned way? Let us know in comments.

Street Pricing [Google Products]