Swiss Bianco Alex Lumberjack and Firesteel Farmer

Top, the new Swiss Bianco Alex Lumberjack and bottom the Firesteel Farmer. Both offer an incredibly efficient little saw blade that is perfect for survival kit use. The Firesteel Farmer also has a traditional firesteel mounted on the spine that will allow you to spark campfires for practically ever in the field.

Recently, Canadian cold weather survival expert and knifemaker Rick Marchand and I were discussing the fact one of the most useful items on a wilderness trek that was seldom stressed by most instructors. It may come as a surprise, but we both put some kind of a metal cooking pot right at the top of the list of essential gear. We both agreed that a simple kettle will allow you to boil water for safety, melt snow for drinking, stew wild vegetables and game, make hot drinks when you are facing potential hypothermia, char material for starting flint and steel fires; the list goes on and on. Better yet, with a little careful packing, the pot itself becomes a large, durable survival kit container.

I first started experimenting with this concept many years ago while elk hunting the “walk in” game area on the south fork of the Toutle River at the base of Mt. St. Helen. My usual SOP was to climb up hill for about a half a day, build a small campfire around noon, eat lunch, then hunt back down the mountain for the remaining daylight hours. Given there was always the possibility I might need to spend the night away from my pickup, I carried a comfortable backpack with anything I felt I might need for this eventuality. That included a small stainless steel pot with lid that normally contained basic fire-starting items, an unbreakable plastic cup, a few tea bags, a little beef jerky, and a couple of chocolate bars.

While it might seem like a minor thing, one of my main complaints about most of the pots I tried was that there was no easy way to pour from them. All it takes is a small lip on one side but virtually none had it. By chance, I discovered Ben’s Backwoods was offering a pot copied off wilderness expert Mors Kochanski’s long time favorite model. The story accompanying the pot was that Mors had been issued it many years ago while instructing at a Canadian military survival school. Ben’s had the model copied in anodized aluminum by an American maker in two sizes, 5 cup and 8 cup.

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