Welcome back to our dive into the world of gear! In this edition of Gear Up, we explore the latest innovations and reliable classics that are key to staying prepared for any challenge. From cutting-edge technology to time-tested tools, our focus is on equipping you with insights and information that keep you one step ahead wherever the journey of life may take you. Whether you're bracing for the unknown or fine-tuning your preparedness kit, join us as we unpack the must-haves for this month.

CRKT: Bugsy

Studio photo of the crkt bugsy for the Gear Up column


Designed by survivalist Kaila Cumings, the CRKT Bugsy Fixed Blade Knife is a versatile tool for outdoor adventures. Available in two versions: one with a stonewash plain-edge blade and Micarta handle, and another with a black Cerakoted blade featuring Veff serrations, matched with a black G10 handle. Its overall length is 7.44 inches, with a 3.78-inch blade that is 0.15-inch thick. The knife is constructed using 1095 carbon steel, known for its durability and edge retention. Weighing 4.3 ounces, it’s designed for both right- and left-handed users and comes with a sheath — leather for the stonewash version and Kydex for the black version. Its blade shape and size make it a reliable companion for various tasks, and the inward curve of the handle is intended to give a strong, secure grip and leverage during tougher cuts. The sheath fits well on a belt and provides easy access to the knife, while sitting comfortably and securely.

  • STEEL: 1095 High Carbon
  • MSRP: $170
  • URL: crkt.com

EXOTAC: fireSleeve

Studio photo of the Exotac fireSleeve.


The Exotac fireSleeve is a protective case designed for a BIC classic lighter, transforming it into a tough and weather-resistant tool. This sleeve is made from flexible TPE (similar to silicone), ensuring a snug fit around the lighter and providing a waterproof seal. The flexibility of the material also allows for a strap that holds down the lighter’s gas button for hands-free use, adding a practical element for situations where you might need both hands free. One of the key advantages of the fireSleeve is its waterproof design. When the cap is on, the sleeve can float and remains waterproof up to a depth of at least 3 feet. This is particularly useful in outdoor or wet conditions, ensuring that your lighter stays dry and functional. The cap also serves the dual purpose of keeping moisture out and preventing accidental pressing of the gas button, a common issue with lighters carried in packs or pockets.

  • COLORS: Black, Glow-In-The-Dark, Orange
  • MSRP: $17 – $21
  • URL: exotac.com

FlipFuel: Fuel Transfer Device

Studio photo of the FlipFuel transfer device for the Gear Up column.


Crafted for outdoor enthusiasts, the FlipFuel Fuel Transfer Device addresses a common dilemma faced by backpackers and campers: managing partially filled fuel canisters. This gadget, retailing at $35, allows you to transfer leftover fuel from one isobutane canister to another, making it possible to consolidate fuel and recycle the empty containers. The Fuel Transfer Device leverages simple chemical physics to transfer fuel between canisters based on temperature differential — cold fuel shrinks and condenses, while warm fuel expands. This process requires one canister to be cold and the other warm, connected by the FlipFuel device that facilitates the flow of fuel when the valve is opened​. FlipFuel is compatible with standard blended fuel canisters like those from MSR, Jetboil, and other similar backpacking stoves, thanks to its threaded nozzle designed to screw onto these canisters​. While it may not be a necessity for every trip, it serves a specific, valuable purpose, particularly for those who frequently find themselves with partially filled canisters.

  • CONNECTIVITY: Isobutane Fuel Canisters
  • MSRP: $35
  • URL: flipfuel.co

Grayman Brief: EDC Puncture Markers & Grayman Sharpie

Studio photo of the Gray Man Brief puncture marker.


EDC Puncture Markers from Superesse Straps are tools for discreet self-defense. The defensive capability is integrated through a non-metallic G10 rod with a sharpened point, approximately 1/2-inch exposed, embedded within a standard Sharpie marker body. This design offers a concealed yet effective means of defense, camouflaged as an ordinary writing utensil. The G10 material was chosen for its strength, undetectability, and ability to hold a sharp point while matching standard writing colors. Available in various configurations, these markers come in full-size options with either a 1/2-inch or a covert 1/4-inch puncture-point tip, and a mini version with a 1/4-inch tip that includes a keyring cap. The markers are offered in multiple colors — black, blue, green, and red — with the covert tip option available only in black. As for the Grayman Sharpie, it’s just a standard Slate Gray Sharpie marker with Grayman Briefing logo.

Grim Workshop: HotShot Card

Studio photo of the Grim Workshop Fire Card for the Gear Up column.


Grim Workshop’s Hot Shot Fire Card is a compact and versatile tool designed for fire starting and survival situations, neatly packaged in a credit card-sized format. This kit proves essential for anyone venturing into the great outdoors, offering a reliable way to start fires without relying on matches or lighters. It includes a ferrocerium rod and magnesium fire starter, ensuring you can create a fire even in challenging conditions. This fire-starting kit isn’t just about creating flames; it’s a multi-tool featuring a small utility knife, EDC pry bar, tweezer tool, and pocket saw. The card itself is made from high carbon blued spring steel, providing durability and corrosion resistance. Its size, just 3 3⁄8 by 2 1⁄8 inches and under 1mm thick, makes it an unobtrusive addition to any wallet, pocket, or survival kit.

Hazard4: Hibachi

Studio photo of the Hazard4 Hibachi pack.


The Hazard 4 Hibachi sling-pack is a lightweight, molded-foam pack designed for versatility and protection in various scenarios, especially for those on the move. Its 360-degree padded walls ensure the safety of your gear, while its sling configuration allows quick access by sliding from back to chest. Notably slimmer and lighter than similar models, it’s ideal for motorcycle use due to its aerodynamic design and easy on-seat bag access. It’s equipped with a unique multi-use divider panel for organizing bulkier items and an organizer for smaller items like tablets and tools. The top shell of the pack allows for the attachment of optional loops, lights, and bungee systems, enhancing its utility. Moreover, the pack features military modular webbing (MOLLE) on the sides, strap, and hip pad, along with a patented hard-MOLLE system on the lid, making it highly customizable. It fits up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro or a water bladder in its padded back-pad, and it’s also suitable for carrying mirrorless DSLR systems with optional padded compartments. The molded back panel not only protects the contents but also promotes airflow and conforms to your back, ensuring comfort during extended use.

Meindl: Lady Meran Comfort Fit Light Hiker

Studio photo of Miendl boots for the Gear Up column.


Lady Meran Comfort Fit GTX Light Hiking Boots are a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking comfort and durability in their footwear. These boots are particularly suited for spring, summer, or fall, offering a balance between outdoor performance and comfort. The nubuck leather uppers are soft right out of the box, minimizing the need for break-in time, yet they are tough enough for prolonged use. They come with full Gore-Tex liners, ensuring waterproof protection while allowing perspiration to escape, an essential feature for various weather conditions. The boots feature Comfort Fit footbeds made from cork that conforms to the shape of your feet, providing a custom-like fit and lined with fleece for extra comfort. The Vibram Comfort Hiker II outsoles provide sufficient grip for challenging terrains, efficiently shedding mud and gravel to maintain pace. Made in Italy, these boots are a fusion of quality craftsmanship and functional design, suitable for both hiking and hunting activities.

Mission First Tactical: ACHRO EDC 10L Sling Bag

Studio photo of the Mission First Tactical sling bag.


Made with versatility and discreetness in mind, the ACHRO EDC 10L Sling Bag is a low-profile, everyday carry bag. With only a few small areas of laser-cut MOLLE, it doesn’t look excessively tactical, making it easier to blend in with different environments. The bag is structured to be functional for daily commuting, travel, and even for low-visibility use by law enforcement professionals. Key features include a dedicated, discreet compartment for concealed firearms, compatible with the MFT Multi-Mount Platform for mounting holstered firearms or other accessories. The bag is ambidextrous, with a padded, adjustable, and removable strap for comfortable carry on either shoulder. A separate padded compartment ensures safe storage for tablets, while the front admin/organizer panel aids in organizing smaller items. The Sling Bag also boasts cooling, quilted back padding for extended comfort, light-colored water-resistant ripstop liner for better interior visibility, weather and abrasion-resistant construction, and various other features like an aluminum key clip, fleece-lined sunglass pocket, and a capacity of 10 liters, making it a well-rounded choice for anyone seeking a functional and secure sling bag.​

NEMO: HELIO Pressure Shower

Studio photo of the NEMO pressure shower for the Gear Up column.


The Helio Pressure Shower from NEMO Equipment is a practical and innovative solution for outdoor enthusiasts who need a reliable shower system in places without conventional facilities. Unlike typical gravity-fed camp showers that must be hung and often provide weak water pressure, the Helio rests on the ground and delivers a strong, steady spray. It can be pressurized quickly with a foot pump, offering 5 to 7 minutes of continuous spray from its 2.9-gallon tank. Key features include a 7-foot neoprene hose, which is long enough to use overhead or to reach all angles of gear or pets, and a compact ventilated carrying case for easy transport and storage. The tank can be warmed in the sun or filled with hot water for a comfortable shower experience. The Helio is made of durable materials, including PU-coated polyester and TPU with neoprene tubing, ensuring it can withstand outdoor conditions. Weighing just over a pound and packing down to a compact size, it’s both lightweight and easy to carry.

Outdoor Element: Omni-Tensil

Studio photo of the outdoor element omni-tensil.


An innovative and environmentally friendly alternative to single-use plastic utensils, the Omni-Tensil tool set is a light weight and practical solution for outdoor dining needs. This all-in-one utensil roll pouch is designed for convenience and versatility, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or even just keeping in your car or at the office. The set includes interchangeable heads for a fork, spoon, chopsticks, and toothbrush that connect to stainless steel tube handles. These handles can also be used as mini bellows for starting a fire, adding another layer of utility. The utensils themselves are made from durable materials: the spoon and fork from hard anodized 7075-T6 aluminum, which is said to be lighter and stiffer than similar titanium tools, and the toothbrush and chopsticks are made from bamboo. For added convenience, the set comes with a microfiber roll towel made from recycled plastics, which also doubles as a washcloth. This towel dries quickly and can easily be hung or attached to a pack.

Spy + Survival Briefing: Ultralight Tomahawk

Studio photo of the Ultralight Tomahawk.


Spy Briefing Gear’s Ultralight Tactical Tomahawk stands out for its portability and effectiveness. With a weight of just 17 ounces, it’s easy to wield by anyone, regardless of age or physical strength. Crafted from a single piece of 1/4-inch-thick steel, this tomahawk demonstrates toughness and durability. Its handle, wrapped in paracord, adds to its practicality and offers the user cordage as another available tool. Beyond its utility in outdoor and survival situations, it serves as a powerful self-defense weapon, capable of smashing through tough materials such as car windshields and hoods. Ideal for emergency scenarios, it enables rapid response in a variety of crisis situations, proving itself to be more than a mere tool, but a versatile solution for an assortment of challenges.

Sitka: Kelvin Aerolite Jacket

Studio photo of the Sitka Kelvin Aerolite Jacket.


Sitka’s Kelvin Aerolite Jacket merges cutting-edge technology with practical design, creating a versatile piece for outdoor enthusiasts. Introduced in 2021, the jacket features PrimaLoft Gold Insulation with Cross Core technology, incorporating Aerogel, a material initially developed by NASA for space applications. This synthetic insulation maintains high performance even when wet, offering exceptional lightweight and low bulk properties, while also including 35-percent recycled content​. The jacket is classified as a mid-weight puffy, effective across a wide temperature range, yet surprisingly light at only 15 ounces for a size large​​. The jacket’s features include strategically placed pockets, gusseted stretch cuffs for easy layering, and an adjustable hood that doesn’t obstruct peripheral vision.

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bThis article has been modified from its original print version for the web.

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