OR Show – Cool Stuff

| August 3, 2009

A last update from the OR Show…

I’ve been collecting knives for a while because I like how they often embody the cultures who created them.  Swiss Army knives are tight, compact and high quality, just like Switzerland.  American Buck knives are big, simple and durable – a bit like America. Italian switchblades are flashy and sexy… when they work.  The classic No. 10 Opinel knife from France is beautifully functional and dangerous.  I’m stereotyping and digressing, but within my knife collection I have a bunch of multi-tools as well.  I’ve always been loyal to the Leatherman brand, in part because I once saw Mr. Leatherman speak, and he was explaining how he started the company out of his frustration of having to carry a whole tool kit with him when traveling in Europe so he could fix the plumbing in hotel rooms.  It would never, ever, occur to me to try to fix the plumbing in a hotel room, but I admire his obsessive nature and the fact that he created an entire industry out of it.

I own the original Leatherman, a Micro (nice, but a hassle with TSA types) and a Juice.  I recently ordered a Skeletool based on pure sex appeal alone as they are little works of art.  But, as soon as I got it, the bottle opener and wire-gate clip gave me some buyer’s remorse as they kind of cluttered up an otherwise elegant design.  I was ready to just suck it up, but Leatherman came out with the brand new Freestyle model, which is a streamlined Skeletool sans bottle opener, and perhaps unfortunately, the screwdriver.  These are very nice little units as the knife blade can be opened with one hand and the needle-nose pliers are surgically precise.  In general, both the Skeletool and Freestyle are much smaller than they appear in photos.  For reference, I can almost hide an entire Skeletool in my closed hand.  Still, I like’m a lot.


The Skeletool with the bottle opener.


The Freestyle tool - basically a Skeletool, sans bottle opener.

Having just fallen in a river yesterday and short-circuited my cell phone and camera, I could have, should have, been protecting them with a Loksak bag.  These are basically burly Ziplock bags with U.S. Navy approved seals.  Very basic, very cheap and very reuseable.

Every time summer comes around in Utah, I think about moving elsewhere as it is so damn hot here.  It is no coincidence that “heat” can be anagramed into “hate” and “summer” rhymes with “bummer.”  As such, I was thrilled to find Blubandoo Cooling Headwear. These hats provide shelter from the Great Oppressor (the sun) by having a wide brim, mesh panels and a nice neck protector, plus, the have “magic beads” in the headband.  These aren’t really all that magic, but they are some sort of little gel crystals which absorb and hold water for up to 2-3 days, even in the dry heat of Utah.  I’ve been using my hat for the last few days, and although it doesn’t give me the desired brain-freeze I was hoping for, it does keep my cranial cavity a degree or two cooler, and every little bit helps.

Bad photo... great product.

Bad photo... great product. (ps - this is not me or anyone I know.)

On a semi ski related note, Tim Kelley, the guy who championed Dynafit bindings in the US for the last fifteen years both through LifeLink and more recently, Salewa USA has now moved over to I/O Bio Merino in Boise.  I/O Bio specializes in Merino wool garments and Tim had a nice selection of everything from t-shirts to ski shirts and hoodies.  I’m a newcomer to the Merino wool craze, but Tim claims I can now ski in the same shirt for a week, then spend a night in a smokey bar and the next morning just shake all of the stank out of it and start over again without washing it.  I’m going to have to test this out next winter.

Merino wool shirts from I/O Bio.

Merino wool shirts from I/O Bio.

While the design is nothing new, SMC is making mini Figure 8 rappel devices which are neat as they are small, lightweight, and most importantly, work with the thinner diameter ropes which many Ski Mountaineers prefer.  SMC also makes a nice line of rescue pulleys, which is an appealing option for those who can’t remember how to rig a Z-drag system when their partner plunks into a crevasse

SMC Escape 8

Help support StraightChuter.com and slice through the gear clutter with a Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…


Category: Gear Reviews

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (2)

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  1. George L. says:

    I also have a fascination with good cutlery, ever since my father gave me my first SAK tinker at the age of eight. I still have that SAK, as well as other knives, multi-tools, and axes, both of the ice-climbing and wood chopping variety.

    To me, anything portable and sharp is a potential delight in design.

  2. KatieC says:

    LOVE wool. Wool keeps me cool, and warm, and allows me to do my family’s laundry together, without separating a certain someone’s ski clothes (and I’m not talking about the Big Guy). It really is as awesome as the sheep lobby would have you believe.

    And of course it is. Sheep, after all, do not smell.

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