I have been wearing the ESEE5/M5 kit for a while now during numerous activities. This past Saturday I got my first real opportunity to not only wear it for an extended amount of time, but wear it while hiking, minor rock scrambling, sitting, kneeling, etc. I think the kit will work nicely for how I am intended it to be used, but it’s going to require some modification.
I had initially used some paracord to tie the bottom part of the M5 bag to my leg so it didn’t flop around. Good idea in theory but it has some issues. In order to keep the pack stable, it has to be tied on tight enough to not move, but not so tight as to cut off circulation. The pack also has to come off, if getting into the drivers seat of a vehicle with a center console. Being able to quickly fasten and unfasten the leg cinch would be a plus.
I will be replacing the paracord with a length of webbing and a side-release buckle. I figure while I am making that, I am going to redo how it clips to my belt. I’ll remove the clip plate back from the ESEE-5′s sheath and fashion some quick release belt loops out of webbing and buckles that will allow the pack to hang at the same location as the clip plate, but offer more flexibility and comfort at the belt. The clip plate is uncomfortable with a tightly fastened belt.
The M5 has a place for your belt to run through it, but I don’t like how high that puts the knife handle.
The combined weight of the ESEE-5 and the M5 (including it’s contents) are also making me consider adding a removable baldric style shoulder strap, not so much to help with weight distribution, but to help keep my pants up!
It’s an unseasonably warm day in late November. You’ve got thirty pounds or more in your backpack, you’re carrying a rifle, and your huffing and puffing your way up a rugged mountain side to get a shot on an Arizona Coues Whitetail buck.
If you’re anything like me, putting the stalk to the animal gets your blood pumping, you breathe faster than normal, and you’re usually sitting on your bum in an office rather than sprinting up the hill side. The last thing you want to do is have to suck water through a 3 foot long straw to get a drink.
This is why I’ve never liked hydration bladders. In theory they are a great idea. You can carry your water in your pack, and if you’ve got a good one, you can possibly carry more water than you otherwise would because your pack helps distribute the load. No fussing with canteens, bottles or bota bags. Sounds good right? Wrong – at least for me. I find drinking through a bite valve to be a pain, and pain enough to make me ditch the bladder and go back to more traditional methods of carrying water.
Apparently, there are more people like me. The good folks at Geigerrig seemed to have taken all my dislike for the hydration bladder and thrown it out the window with the introduction of their “Hydration Engine“.
I first saw one of their packs at a local big box outdoors store, and the bladder is what specifically caught my interest. After some reading online and seeing that they carried the bladders by themselves, I decided to purchase the 3liter version to fill the void where the bladder used to be in my Camelbak Motherlode.
When I got the thing home, I immediately took it out of the package and immediately filled it with water and air to see how it worked. My initial thought upon seeing the stream of water come out of the drink tube was “this is brilliant!”
Along with the normal water reservoir and drink tube, the Geigerrig Hydration Engine also has a secondary chamber in the bladder that holds air, and a second tube with a hand pump to fill the air chamber. As the air chamber inflates, it puts pressure on the water reservoir and when you squeeze the valve at the end of the drink tube, the water comes streaming out with good enough force to squirt a sustained stream at least a good five feet. Geigerrig’s claim of “never suck again” certainly appears to be true.
Now that the initial testing was over, it was time to look at the other annoyance I had with water bladders: cleaning them. The bladders I’ve had in other packs, both name brand not; did not clean easily. That, coupled with the fact I didn’t like actually using them is what caused me to write them off. With the Geigerrig, you can actually turn the bladder inside out and throw it in your dishwasher. It is quite possible this is an even better feature than the pressurized drinking itself!
That is as far as I’ve gotten with it so far. This weekend comes the first of real testing. I’ve got to put it in my pack and see how it rides. I also need to make sure it does not make a whole lot of sloshing noises as it empties water.
I have to admit that as impressed as I am with it so far, I am a bit wary of how the bladder seals shut, and only time and use will tell if it works as well as I am hoping it will. I’m also hoping that the initial air pressurization is enough to empty the water completely. The last thing I want to do is be putting a stalk on the buck of my dreams and have to stop and make “FSSSHH FSSHH FSSSHHH” sounds as I pump more air into the bladder to get a quick drink.
I can already say though, I’m pretty sure I want one of their packs for every day use, and to take with me on day hikes, 3D Archery tournies and more…
I call this the Wildertrek Cup System only because it’s my pieces of gear. Other people have done this before and take no credit for the idea.
Last week I purchased a pair of Teva Mens Raith Leather hiking shoes. I really got these as a replacement for my everyday New Balance shoes I wear to work, rather than for outdoors activities, but they’ll eventually be tried out for that too.
I’ve never had anything from Teva before, but after trying on various boots and shoes from Keen, Danner, Merrell and some other generic brands, I found I liked this shoe best. I have bad ankles that are prone to rolling and I need something that allows my feet to ride as close to the ground as possible, and provides good lateral stability. This shoe fit those needs. There was one pair from Merrell that were arguably more comfortable, but the foot rode very high in them and it felt like I was walking on stilts – with my ankles that is a recipe for disaster.
After wearing them for 10+ hours, every day since I’ve gotten them, I am happy to report that they really did not need any breaking in. They are extremely comfortable and have caused no blisters or sore spots. Being all leather they are a bit more warm than the shoe I came from, but that was to be expected, and my only real gripe with them is that the supplied laces are a little slick and even with a double knot, they come untied once or twice a day.
I wont know for sure exactly what I think of them until after I’ve had them for a while, but at this point I am inclined to think I would consider buying from Teva again.