SURVIVE WITH ÜBERLEBEN
LEADING THE MODERN BUSHCRAFT MOVEMENT WITH UPDATED TRADITIONAL GEAR
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 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.