SUR­VIVE WITH ÜBERLEBEN

LEAD­ING THE MOD­ERN BUSHCRAFT MOVE­MENT WITH UP­DATED TRA­DI­TIONAL GEAR

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - By Reuben Bolieu

Up­dated tra­di­tional gear from the mod­ern bushcraft move­ment

Überleben”—ger­man: to sur­vive or to out­last.

Es­tab­lished in March 2016, Überleben is a rel­a­tively new com­pany with strong roots in the out­doors. Since I first no­ticed this com­pany on the scene, I got the im­pres­sion of ro­bust and re­li­able gear that can en­dure the harsh­est con­di­tions—and de­liver!

I first saw Überleben up close and per­sonal when a fel­low writer in my neck of the woods showed me his Überleben fer­ro­cerium rod and stove. When I tried out the ferro rod, I be­came even more cu­ri­ous.

I con­tacted Überleben co-founder Tim Garcia and got a brief back­ground about the prod­ucts and the com­pany. Af­ter that, the qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and man­u­fac­tur­ing spoke for them­selves. Out of the box, the prod­ucts were hand­somely pack­aged with re­us­able plas­tic bags that featu a stun­ning for­est photo printed on them.

THE PROD­UCTS

The Kuksa Cup was not pack­aged in the sa plas­tic. It fea­tured a leather thong, a cara­bin and was made of a type of oak, rather than t tra­di­tional Scan­di­na­vian birch. In ad­di­tion, it was ma­chined, rather than hand carved. The oak grain was very at­trac­tive and will ac­quire a nice patina. I would think there would be less crack­ing or swelling with the hard­wood oak than with birch, but it de­pends on your

en­vi­ron­ment and the treat­ment ap­plied to the wood. This be­ing said, by ma­chin­ing thes cups, Überleben achieves consistency across the board.

The five-panel, steel-con­struc­tion stove was weighty, but solid. There were no sharp edges to be con­cerned with, and it came with a can­vas pouch that will help keep the in­side of your back­pack clean when soot starts ac­cu­mu­lat­ing on stoves and cook pots.

The fer­ro­cerium rods fea­ture Sånft-k ōrr, which is the com­pany’s pro­pri­etary ferro for­mul blend that it also de­signed. Man­u­fac­tur­ing is split be­tween the United States and Asia.

I set out to my per­sonal camp to use these three prod­ucts, which do work well to­gether as a bushcraft kitchen setup. The stove, ferro rod and kuksa all worked in uni­son for a com­fort­able, cozy woods ex­pe­ri­ence—which is what I al­ways want when go­ing into the woods!

ZÜNDEN FIRE STARTER

Over the past 20 years, I have used just about ev­ery type of fer­ro­cerium rod (fire steel) on the planet. In my opin­ion, it comes down to “sim­ple is bet­ter.” The fewer the mov­ing parts on any piece of out­doors gear, the bet­ter off it will be.

In spite of the myr­iad tube gad­gets, spring-loaded, made-to-fail strik­ers, multi-screw-on bits and the other gim­micky va­ri­eties on the mar­ket, Überleben went back to the ba­sics. Its sim­ple ferro rod is en­cased in a size­able piece of wood for a good grip—not a two-fin­ger, pinch type tha seems to be all too com­mon. The Zünden ferro rod has a larger-than-usual wood han­dle that is eas­ily mod­i­fied to fit in the fire steel loop of a sheath or pos­si­bles pouch; not to men­tion, it coul be stained and fin­ished to match your other gear, whether axe or knife han­dles or a knife sheath The heart of the ferro rod is the thick, 3/8-inch rod, which is plenty thick for long-term use.

The striker is billed as a six-func­tion multi-tool. It fea­tures mea­sure­ments in mil­lime­ters, has a cap lifter for bot­tled drinks (which also dou­bles as some sort of HEX key), a rounded, ser­rated ro and tin­der scraper bit, a map scale and a sharp spine scraper. Bot­tom line: It opens bot­tles and scrapes both tin­der from fat­wood or soft poplar in ad­di­tion to strik­ing a ferro rod.

I will go on record here and say that the Überleben striker is the best ferro rod striker I have come across to date. I even use it on my other ferro rods for the consistency I’ve come to ex­pect.

ÜBERLEBEN WENT BACK TO THE BA­SICS. ITS SIM­PLE FERRO ROD IS EN­CASED IN A SIZE­ABLE PIECE OF WOOD FOR A GOOD GRIP—NOT A TWOFINGER, PINCH TYPE THAT SEEMS TO BE ALL TOO COM­MON.

just throws a bet­ter shower—ev­ery time. Over the years, I have seen de­cent to less-than-ideal erro rods that ex­cel with a good striker. This is a prime ex­am­ple of that, be­cause it made my ther, cheaper ferro rods throw big sparks.

In the Eastern wood­lands, hu­mid­ity is high dur­ing the sum­mer. Nat­u­ral tin­der, such as poplar ark and river birch, re­act dif­fer­ently when try­ing to get a fire started than in late fall and win­ter. sub­par ferro rod just won’t cut it. The Zünden ferro rod is some­where be­tween a hard Swedish ight My Fire ferro rod and a soft rod.

With a softer ferro rod, the thumb-on-thumb tech­nique is not pos­si­ble in the same way as ith harder ferro rods. I found I could both shower sparks and ex­e­cute the thumb-on-thumb ech­nique with the Zünden. I used it on nat­u­ral tin­der, as men­tioned, and sim­ple wood shav­ings

THE ÜBERLEBEN DURSTEN KUKSA (MADE FROM OAK) HOLDS A FULL 8 FLUID OUNCES. IT COMES WITH A CARABINER AND LEATHER LAN­YARD TO AT­TACH TO YOUR PACK OR TO CARRY TRA­DI­TION­ALLY ON A BELT.

known as “fuzz sticks.” Soft wood has a very low ig­ni­tion tem­per­a­ture com­pared to hard­wood. The amount of heat put out by the Zünden is said to be 5,500 de­grees (F), which is pow­er­ful enough to ig­nite softer wood such as yucca, pine, poplar, wil­low, spruce, hem­lock and cedar. This task seemed to be no prob­lem for the Zünden, which is aptly teamed up with the striker for some fierce sparks.

STÖKER FLAT­PACK STOVE

Af­ter decades of cook­ing over an open fire wher­ever pos­si­ble, I fi­nally caved in about two years ago and made my­self a hobo stove to see what all the craze was about. Try­ing to em­u­late the wood-burn­ing por­ta­ble stoves that were avail­able at the time, called “twig” or “bio stoves, I made mine from a large cof­fee can and used min­i­mal tools.

Af­ter us­ing this stove, I started to un­der­stand the con­cept a lit­tle bet­ter. Less fuel fo­cused in a smaller area means more-ef­fi­cient time and fuel man­age­ment. I also un­der­stood how much of the nat­u­ral re­sources I was sav­ing, be­cause these stove types of­ten use twigs and branches as their main fuel. Com­pare that to the larger amount of wood needed with an open fire to burn down to coals—be­fore even at­tempt­ing to start cook­ing. Af­ter a few of my own self-de­vised bio stoves, I de­cided to try an ac­tual man­u­fac­tured bio stove from Überleben.

The Stöker Flat­pack Stove is not light. At 14.5 ounces (in­clud­ing its can­vas stor­age pouch), it is made with HD 304 stain­less steel, which is strong, flex­i­ble and very cor­ro­sion re­sis­tant. I used it out­doors for a month straight with­out ever bring­ing it back from my semi-per­ma­nent camp dur­ing the most hu­mid, rainy time of the year in the Eastern wood­lands.

The five-panel de­sign slips and locks into place with­out too much fuss. It loads fuel from the front via a large, round port. In a tra­di­tional fire-mak­ing style, with the tin­der at the bot­tom and kin­dling and fuel on top, this seems the ob­vi­ous choice, due to the ease of ig­nit­ing the

SINCE I FIRST NO­TICED [ÜBERLEBEN] ON TH SCENE, I GOT THE IM PRESSION OF ROBUS AND RE­LI­ABLE GEAR THAT CAN ENDUR THE HARSH­EST CONDI TIONS—AND DE­LIVER

nder. How­ever, it could also be used with the fuel (larger pieces) at the bot­tom and kin­dling bove, with the tin­der at the very top. This is com­monly known as an “up­side-down fire.” mallish bio stoves seem bet­ter suited for a more tra­di­tional fire-mak­ing tech­nique due to heir en­closed de­signs, us­ing the hot ris­ing air, be­cause fire nat­u­rally will rise up when­ever iven the av­enue to do so.

Once the stove is lit, it can be stuffed with longer sticks and wood splits that ex­tend up be­yond the op of the stove to burn down and start to es­tab­lish hot coals. This only takes a mat­ter of min­utes, nd the stove will soon be ready to place a pot on top. I was us­ing the stove in con­junc­tion with a ur­tonsville cook­ing rig, hav­ing the ket­tle hang­ing over the stove, with a higher flame from the ticks pro­trud­ing out from it. It made for a higher, hot­ter flame, which was per­fect for my setup, ecause I could ad­just the height of the ket­tle over the stove.

A sim­ple pot sup­porter for smaller-di­am­e­ter cook cans/pots is pro­vided with the stove. It is st a cou­ple of steel strips in the shape of an “X” that seat well into the stove. These strips up­port smaller cook­ing con­tain­ers or bal­ance a larger-di­am­e­ter fry­ing pan. How­ever, I only sed it once and de­cided to ei­ther hang my cook­ing items over the flame or place them di­rectly n top of the stove.

I em­u­lated the pho­tos I saw on the Überleben web­site and used a flat rock to cook on top of. I got he stove nice and hot with coals and con­tin­ued heat­ing the flat rock slowly to avoid crack­ing it. I laced a few drops of olive oil on the rock to see if it would be balanced and sta­ble. I then cooked an

OUT OF THE BOX, THE PROD­UCTS WERE HAND­SOMELY PACK­AGED WITH RE US­ABLE PLAS­TIC BAGS THAT FEA­TURE A STUN­NING FOR­EST PHOTO PRINTED ON THEM.

egg right on top of it; it made all the ex­pected siz­zling sounds!

Through­out the month, I fried fish and veg­eta­bles on the flat rock over the stove. I also made a mush­room, onion and cheese omelet in a small cook pot. The stove boiled gal­lons of water for cof­fee, stews and soups with a frac­tion of the fuel I would have used for an open fire.

The hid­den gem of the stove is its flat can­vas pouch. It is not treated with oil or wax but could be if you needed it. I did not. How­ever, I did use it as soon as I got to camp. I grabbed the pouch and filled it with poplar/birch bark and kept it stuffed with wood shav­ings for the next fire I would make. While han­dling hot stuff, it makes for a quick oven mitt or a hand pro­tec­tor when it’s time to empty the hot coals. It re­ally rounds out the prod­uct and makes it more than multi-func­tional in any camp.

Once ig­nited, the Stöker Flat­pack Stovestove can be loaded from the top to help es­tab­lish heat and coals for cook­ing and boil­ing water. Once the sticks burn down, the pot can be rested on the sup­port pieces. Far left: The ferro rod striker is multi-func­tional item that is one of t best strik­ers. It can also open bot­tle bev­er­ages with eas h Left: The can­vas pouch that comes wi the stove is a good tin­der pouch. It can al be treated to be more water-re­pella

The pack­a­gin from Über­lebe is sec­ond to none Prod­ucts are indi vid­u­ally sealed i a re­us­able/storag zi­plock bagTwo thick­nesse of ferro rods from Überleben are see here—the Pro 3/8 inch and the longe ½-inch-di­am­ete ver­sion called th Fatty. The compa ny is proud of it Sånft-kōrr, which i its pro­pri­etary ferr for­mula blend that i also de­signed

The Überleben Stöker Flat­pack Stove and oak Dursten kuksa cup make for a good woods combo.

Far right: Mim­ick­ing what the author aw on the com­pany’s web­site, he ooked us­ing a flat rock as a fry­ing pan o make some fish and veg­gies. Be­low: The Überleben Stōker Flat­pack Stove has five pan­els that slide to­gether and don’ have any sharp cor­ners to be wor­ried about The can­vas bag dou­bles as a fire prepa­ra­tion plat­form and tin­der bag

The Überleben Stöker Flat­pack Stove can be laid back and lit with a ferro rod and then stood up­right to add kin­dling and then fuel. The author used this method with wood shav­ings as kin­dling, which was loaded into the stove with the poplar bark.Far left: Tin­der an kin­dling are ready to be loaded into th stove. The can­vas pouch makes a goo sur­face to catch shav­ings and small kin­dling.Near left: While us­ing a more con­ven­tional cook­ing con­tainer, the au­tho made an omelet with mush­rooms, green onions, chees and three eggs. And when a fire is down to coals, it makes a good place to sim­mer and keep pots warm.

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