Tag Archives: Knife

The Nitty Gritty About Survival Kits

Survival kit essentials and backpack [Image: thenexttrailhead.com/post/45569963707/diy-first-aid-wilderness-survival-kit]

Image: thenexttrailhead.com/post/45569963707/diy-first-aid-wilderness-survival-kit

Heading into the great outdoors? In addition to your first aid kit, don’t forget to pack a survival kit! While everyone has preferences of what they like to include in their personal survival kit, here’s a list of our 11 must-haves.

1. Lighter

A small plastic lighter can make all the difference in an emergency. Also consider packing a magnesium starter or a book of matches as back-up.

2. Cell Phone

Cell phones are practically mandatory survival items these days. Just don’t forget to bring a charger. For more remote locations, a satellite phone may be necessary.

3. Iodine Tablets

In addition to bringing enough water, fill a small pill bottle with iodine tablets. Iodine tablets are perfect for survival kits because they are way easier to pack than a water filter. These tablets don’t add the best taste to water, but they will get you through those areas where drinking water isn’t readily available.

Two hikers on the trail in the evening [Image: Image: outdoorgearmadness.com/petzl-myo-rxp-review]

Image: outdoorgearmadness.com/petzl-myo-rxp-review

4. Flashlight

What you thought was a day hike turns into an overnight affair. That’s when you’re really going to need your flashlight and/or headlamp. Just don’t forget to pack extra batteries!

5. Knife

A pocket knife is good. A multi-tool knife is great.

6. Tinder

Whether you bring along some homemade fire starter or a vial of emergency tinder tablets, dry kindling will be a godsend when you’re looking to start a fire.

If your day hike turns midway into a camping trip, you'll be glad you packed a survival kit. [Image:  www.exposureguide.com/outdoor-photography-tips.htm]

If your day hike turns midway into a camping trip, you’ll be glad you packed a survival kit. [Image: www.exposureguide.com/outdoor-photography-tips.htm]

7. Energy Bar

Stash an energy bar or two into your survival kit. When the going gets rough, an energy bar will feel like a feast.

8. Compass & Maps

Even the best technology can fail, which is why bringing along a compass and map is so essential. Before hitting the trail, be sure that you are packing the most up-to-date map!

9. Waterproof Shell

Even if the forecast says sunny, pack a light, waterproof outer shell. This shell should also act as a windbreaker.

After a day like this, you'll be so glad you packed extra socks. [Image: treelinebackpacker.com/2014/08/09/backpacking-in-the-rain]

After a day like this, you’ll be so glad you packed extra socks. [Image: treelinebackpacker.com/2014/08/09/backpacking-in-the-rain]

10. Water Bottle

If you’ve got the space, bring an extra water bottle. You never know when you’ll need an extra container.

11. Extra Hiking Socks

Knowing you’ve packed a pair of dry hiking socks may be the ticket to getting you through those downtrodden moments on the trail. Thick socks can also double as mittens.

Many of these items and more can be found within our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store! Or take our 2-minute Pocket Ranger® Survey and you could win a $350 gift certificate to Backcountry.com!

Meet Michael Asquino – Metalsmith Extraordinaire

There a lot of pluses to working at ParksByNature: we get to read and think and write about state parks and the outdoors all day, we get to stare at and work with pretty pictures of nature, and we get to help develop a free product that’s helpful to our users.

But the most exciting part of our job would have to be connecting with all of you, and being a part of this great outdoor community. So, when we meet really interesting, outdoorsy people, we just want to be their new best friends/highlight all the cool things they’re doing and share that all with you.

That’s what happened when we were introduced to Connecticut’s Michael Asquino, metalsmith and owner of Thunder Hill Forge, LLC. The business is his passion project: Michael’s an artist and bladesmith who specializes in custom-made, one-of-a-kind knives for hunting and fishing.

Michael Asquino metalsmith

Meet Michael – the man, the myth, the legend(ary metalsmith.)

We caught up with the master craftsman recently to talk zen fishing expeditions, his favorite piece that he’s created, and why he partially owes his career to video games. If you’re in the market for a special tool, you may want to reach out to Michael, as we’re sure he’s poised for big things—just remember that you discovered him here!

HoG metalsmith

Michael’s HoG Everyday Carry Knife, from inception to creation.

How it all started: Michael was an art student at the University of Hartford doing drawing and painting. “I had to take a sculpture class for an elective. [I’d] never really done any sculpture before, [but I thought] ‘what the heck? Let’s give it a try.’ So when I walked into the class I saw a whole metalsmithing studio, and my brain was blown away because I had no idea I had access to all this stuff.”

The first thing he made: “We had to make any form of sculpture out of a material we’d never used before. My grandfather used to make nails in his garage—it was cool for me to see as a kid because he had a big kerosene torch—but as I grew older I didn’t really do anything with [metal]. So I actually made a shield that was about 40 pounds, 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide, had spikes, was covered with fake blood, and I painted it red, white, and blue to try and get some shock value [because of the war going on.] At one point I almost cut off my finger, burnt my arm hair off (when you weld there’s splatter; it’s liquid hot metal that’s splattering off the welder) so it can cause pretty gnarly burns)—but everybody loved [the shield] and I had a great time working with it.”

metalsmith chef knife

He makes chefs’ knives, too! Here’s the 13″ Hamon Chef Knife. Doesn’t it make you want to chop things like never before?

A zen place: “My grandfather taught me to hunt and fish at a young age. It’s purely an escape. I’m at ease, having a good time, being in nature.”

The hunting and fishing connection: In addition to spending his time hunting and fishing, “growing up, [I watched] fantasy movies and cartoons and [played] video games, [so] knives, swords, weapons just became part of my life. I started collecting pocket knives when I was a kid, swords ten years ago. When I got into metalsmithing I said to myself: ‘weapon making! This is perfect; everything is falling into place.’ So knives and swords are what I really specialize in.”

michael asquino metalsmith

The Gut Hook Skinner. Don’t you love the teal handle?

Everything he makes: “Knives, swords, ornamental blacksmithing (the formal art of blacksmithing, iron gates, anything to do with iron and forging.) For Valentine’s Day, I’m doing these hand-forged copper roses and hand-forged bangles. I do it once a year as an artsy thing. Everything is made to order; most of the knives I do are one-of-a-kind. I’ll do some series—like maybe 1-3 of the same type of knife but different sizes, different features.”

michael asquino metalsmith rose

He’s not just a knife man—we’re all about these beautiful copper roses. (Hooray for all sorts of nature inspiration!

The knives: “Most of the hunting knives are for skinning and dressing, but I do actually make some hunting knives that are purely for killing—especially hog hunting. They’re called pig stickers, or hog or boar hunting knives. It’s a type of knife that’s very long, that’s got a guarded hilt above the handle, and it’s very, very sharp and pointed to actually pierce boars and hogs.”

Where he sells: “Etsy is amazing. I’ve befriended so many people, made so many contacts. It’s not only a form of selling stuff, but it’s a way of seeing what everyone’s doing. I also take commissions by e-mail (Thunderhillforge@gmail.com) and through my website, and I have some knives at a local hunting and fishing store in Stamford. I am looking to branch out to two other shops, too.”

knife michael asquino metalsmith

The Blood Drunk Everyday Carry Knife.

The emotional connection: Michael wants customers to have an emotional connection with his pieces: “if you want your father’s name engraved on it, that becomes an heirloom.”

Most memorable piece: “I once spent four days of no sleep and barely eating, just drawing and drawing and drawing and actually testing it out and taking a piece of wood and cutting the shape out and testing how it would perform as a hunting and/or survival knife.” He finally gave the flawless knife to the customer, who “got into a car accident. The car was on his neck and he couldn’t get his seatbelt free. He cut his seatbelt, crawled out of the car, and immediately called me, saying: ‘Dude, your knife saved my life!’”

To learn more about Michael and Thunder Forge LLC, or to collaborate with him on a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted hunting or fishing knife, check out his website. You can also connect with him on Instagram and/or Facebook.

hunter metalsmith

The W2 Hunter Knife looks right at home in the wild.