Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gear Review: Pathfinder Water Bottle & Cup


When I was a kid I carried this old school WWII/GI surplus canteen and web belt, the ones wear the canteen pouch was felt lined and the whole thing was khaki. By the time it came my way it was easily forty years old and, it escorted me on every summertime bike and creek adventure, squirrel hunt and, deer hunt of my youth (and more than a couple of my professional adventures as an adult).

There were (and are) a lot of things I liked about it, first I'm a sucker for old school stuff, second it was a metal canteen that sat in a metal cup. As a teenager I was caught up in everything "survival", reading every Tom Brown Jr, Bradford Angier, or Army Survival Manual I could get my hands on. My favorite "trick" so to speak was that I could boil water to purify it in my canteen and drink it in the cup that it was wedged into (do that with a plastic canteen).

Then I grew up and abandoned the old G.I. canteen to the plastic Nalgene bottle trend at the start of this century. It did however leave me wanting.

See I've got this slightly different perspective on the whole SHTF scenario in that I've been there when it's happened on those micro occasions as opposed to the "big event" we all talk about and plan for.

Which having come through those situations combined with my survival skilled-and-filled youth left me liking to be prepared. The down side was in all that over prepping I developed the bad habit of over packing or rather packing in redundancy.

Over time I've learned to shed the extra gear and not be so African fetish about it in the process... it just took more than a few layovers, custom officials and back breaking runs to airplanes to learn how to stream line and find multiple uses for single pieces of gear.

Fortunately, when you sometimes spends hours and... days alone you get a lot of time to think and mentally sort out details of your personal kit, perfecting it along the way. You also mentally write a lot of blog posts that show up two years later...

One of those stream lined pieces of gear I wanted to find was a wide mouth stainless steel water bottle (like a Klean Kanteen), with a cup to go with it. Like all things I added to the basic idea.

I wanted a way to also turn it into a portable coffee maker for those times when gear REALLY had to be limited. Nothing complicated, just be able to put the bottle on a small stove or straight into a fire, boil water, then add a bandana full of coffee. That thought developed into wanting to design a French Coffee Press for my new kit I didn't have.

Then on one expedition to a local sporting good store I saw it. A french press kit for a Nalgene bottle....which of course meant you had to pour boiling water INTO the Nalgene bottle then make your coffee in it. As opposed to...oh I dunno....that aluminum camp coffee pot I already had trucked all over the world, and done the same thing with.

But a fool on a mission is undeterred. I bought it. And no other piece of gear ever sat so beautifully unused on my equipment shelf.

But a patient man I am. I knew....I just knew...one day.

A few years ago when he was still on youtube and before "Dual Survivor" hit the Discovery Channel, I had enjoyed Dave Canterbury's Pathfinder school vids. By happenstance earlier in the summer I came across his on line store. Low and behold Dave had a 32oz stainless water bottle and, 25oz cup combo for $35.

Done and done.

Ordered on a Friday it arrived on the following Tuesday.

Let's be honest, there isn't really anything overly exciting about a water bottle or a cup but it is the combination I've wanted for a long time at a price I like. The measurement gradients inside the 25oz cup (GSI's is 18 oz by the way) may prove useful in cooking some remote meal at a future point and I thought they were a good inclusion.

So what about the whole "French-Pressed-coffee-over-an-open-fire" thing (see pics below). It works rather well actually. The only hiccup in the plan was the lid/top of the press is made to Nalgene specs and wouldn't screw down but, it proved to be unnecessary anyway. The press part works in the bottle superbly and....I can always buy an extra lid and drill a hole for the press rod, another for a spout and, a third for airflow and be good to go (life ain't perfect).

The truth is what I like is that I've got a make shift way to purify water or sterilize med gear or cook in a situation where I'm working with minimal gear in a shit situation. I also like that I'm not out a ton of cash in the process which is nice for the bottle's main purpose in my life.

My primary Go-Bag is a BlackHawk! Mobile Operations Bag (size medium). In one of the three side pockets are a stainless steel Thermos (no handles) and the PathFinder waterbottle/cup combo. Both sit idle but ready in the bag until it's time to roll out...which doesn't seem to be slowing up anytime soon for me.

"But is it THE BEST!" you ask.

Because you know the Internets demand all your gear be THE BEST.

Dude, its a metal water bottle that seals up tight with a metal cup on the end what else does it need to do?

As for the coffee makin'....

pics are below. How much coffee does it make? By the mark of my coffee pot in the kitchen, seven cups which works out to roughly four mugs of coffee. Note: the smaller mug in the blue Nalgene bottle is an 18 oz GSI Camp mug shown for comparison.