Monday, January 24, 2022

Limited Protection but Why? - Helikon-Tex Poncho US Surplus Model Real R...

This is the Helikon-Tex US Model Poncho which is part of their Military Surplus Line. Unfortunately this product has some serious problems and can only be recommended for VERY short individuals.

The quality is great but you'll be left scratching your head when you see just how short it is.
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Helikon-Tex Poncho U.S. Model, Surplus Line

What it is : This is a lightweight poncho made by Helikon-Tex that I have been testing out for roughly 6 months now.

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Cost : $35

Colors : Black, two shades of green, and two woodland camo versions.

Sizes : One Size Fits All

Dimensions : 82.5 x 57” - That’s 82.5” long which unbuttoned and unfolded. When in poncho mode, it’s only around 40” long

Stored - 5.5” x 8.6”

Materials : Polyester

Features :
Hood with cord adjuster
Taped seams
Press studs and metal eyelets at the edges
Can be stabilized via dedicated cord

Surplus Line : This basically means that this poncho and the company’s other items that are part of this line are modeled after well known military surplus items. In this case, this poncho is modeled after the US Military poncho.

Modeled is the key word there.

Review Pros :

Good quality for a military “style” poncho. Better quality than most cheap ponchos that you can find in stores and online at sites like walmart or amazon.

I’ve experienced no leaking with this poncho and I have been out in the middle of tropical storms that have come through the area. Longest duration has been in the rain for roughly 2 hours with no issues.

It’s simple - quick to deploy

Fair Price - if purchased from an honest dealer - more on that in a moment.

Smaller hood and neck hole allow for less water / rain to get into the poncho

Can be used with the Swagman Roll as a sort of poncho liner.

Light weight


Storage included and it is big enough to easily hold the poncho. No issues with getting it out or putting it back in.

Review Cons :
I mentioned that this is part of the Surplus line and that it is modeled after the old US Military Poncho. Again, Modeled is the key word there as it is loosely modeled after the military variant.

This poncho is smaller in size - for a poncho it is rather short and the taller you are, the less protection that it will give your lower body. It’s about 4” shorter length and width than a military poncho
it will not mate to original military accessories such as the military poncho liner correctly.
If using this as a shelter, it is again due to the dimensions being rather small. It’s difficult to get good protection with it as it’s not as long nor as wide as a typical poncho.
The hood and head hole are smaller - if you have a big head it will be a tight fit.
These are made from Polyester whereas the military version was nylon. Polyester isn’t as strong as nylon and is generally a less expensive material. Civilian grade, not military - Because its not military grade, it is small and lighter in weight.

Small Size : Going back to the size, I would pay extra close attention to those measurements to see if this is going to work for you as this isn’t a large poncho by any means.

Cost : The retail price for this poncho is very fair for what it is but there are secondary sellers who are basically ripping people off. Take some sellers on Amazon, I’ve seen these ponchos being sold for as much as $70….this is not worth $70. This is a polyester poncho - it’s worth no more than around $40.

Side Snaps : I’ve had no issues with these but you have to be careful with them. They are fragile and there are plenty of reports of these being damage and destroyed rather easily.

Summary :
For the retail price, this poncho has served me well and I have no problem with recommending it. I would look passed the whole Surplus Line that Helikon has going on; that’s more marketing gimmick than anything else.

Pay attention to the measurements; will the smaller poncho work for you?

Also, watch the prices; don’t pay more than what this poncho is worth unless you really want it.


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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Rain Camping with No Tent - Cowboy Tarp Camping Adventure

As a front pushes into the Mountains of NC, Luke is out for a Cowboy Camp.
In this Adventure, Luke is sleeping on the ground, underneath a gigantic tarp!

Heavy Rain is on the way and the adventure, begins now.


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7378 Old US 421 S
Deep Gap, NC 28618
Gear List for this Adventure :
After receiving countless messages from viewers about supporting the channel through Amazon, I have begun using Amazon Affiliate links in the Adventure Videos and if you choose to purchase one of these products via these links I will receive a small commission which will help fund future honest reviews and adventures.

The channel remains as it always was, 100% Agenda Free with no sponsored videos, no paid reviews, and I don't care if you purchase these products or not; you won't find affiliate links in review videos only in adventures.

I'm going to do my best to put gear lists into all of my videos since everyone is asking for them all the time.

For this trip, here are the big items that I used.

CowBoy Camp Gear List :

Camera Equipment :
- Sony A7S III :
- Sony 20mm 1.8 Lens :
- SIRUI Carbon Fiber Travel 5C Tripod :
- Batteries :
- Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Mic :
- Sony TOUGH-G SDXC UHS-II 128GB V90 Memory Card :
- DJI Mini Drone :

Clothing :
Fjallraven Zip-Off Pants :
OldNavy Active T-Shirt : oldnavy
USMC Fleece Sweater : for green for brown
Arcteryx Conveyor Belt :
Darn Tough Socks :
SCARPA Men's Kailash Trek GTX Hiking Boot :

Smartwool Merino Wool Hat :
5.11 Rain Jacket :
Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Pants :

Oakley Men's Gradient Flak Jacket 03-881 Black Wrap Sunglasses :

Gear :

Aqua Quest Safari 20x13 ft Olive Drab Tarp :
OneTigris Bulwark Camping Tarp :
Fjallraven Kajka 75 Backpack :
Carinthia Defence 4 Sleeping Bag :
German Folding Mat :
SleepingO Sleeping Pad Mat :
550 Cord :
Varusteleka Terävä Jääkäripuukko 110 Knife :

Bahco Hand Saw :

Nemo Moonlander Table :
Helinox Chair One :
MSR PocketRocket Ultralight :
Toaks 750ML Pot with Bail Handle :
TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon with Polished Bowl :
MSR Small Cup :

Evernew Titanium Pot :

Bigfoot Bushcraft Fire Starters :

Garmin Instinct Solar GPS Watch :

Mountain House Chicken and Dumplings :

Kershaw Cryo II Folding Knife :
NiteCore Power Bank :

NiteCore NU32 Headlamp :

Nite Ize Lantern :
Fenix Lantern :

Lighters :

Tasmanian Tiger Modular Pouch Kit :
Tasmanian Tiger Mesh Pouch Kit :

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A Very Different Tent - Hilleberg Unna - First Look and Discussion

A Very Different Tent - Hilleberg Unna - First Look and Discussion

Last week we took a look at the Hilleberg Soulo which is one of the most popular 4 season tents on the market today. In this episode, Luke is going over another popular tent from the Hilleberg that is known as the Unna.

This is the Hilleberg Unna tent and you are about to see what make it so special.....and also, so expensive!

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Hilleberg Unna

What it is : This is a Freestanding, 4 season tent that is made by one of the worlds most respected tent manufacturers.

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Price : $740

Availability : Currently just about every Hilleberg tent is limited in terms of availability. I expect to see product availability improvements in 2023; until then you can get on waiting lists with Hilleberg or with outfitters. There is also the used market if interested.

Colors : Green, Red, Sand

Size : The company claims 1 person but two full size sleeping pads will fit inside of this tent

Single entrance, FreeStanding Dome Tent
Bathtub floor, vent cover fly

Weight : 5lbs 1oz packed weight

Materials : Kerlon 1200 YKK Zippers, 2x 9mm Aluminum poles, 12 tent stakes

Measurements : 43” wide, 39” tall, 90” long

Label : Red
I’ve covered this before in other videos so I won’t do it again in the same detail. Hilleberg has multiple labels and this is a way to classify their tents in terms of strength and weight.

Black - for the worst conditions imaginable- heaviest of the Hilleberg Tents

Red - still very strong but lighter - very much 4th season capable and in fact, Red Label tents are what I use for winter camping in blizzards and storms.

Yellow - 3 season tents that are as lightweight as possible

From the Company :
OUR SIMPLEST SOLO TENT, the fully free standing Unna is supremely easy to pitch nearly anywhere – rocky shores, narrow ridgelines, dense forests (or, of course, even on “perfect” tent sites) – and it boasts an impressive amount of interior space. It is ideal for journeys in any season where low weight is a high priority, and where the terrain makes for tricky pitching conditions. Rather than a vestibule, the Unna has a spacious interior that easily accommodates the occupant and gear – or, in a pinch, two people. And by disconnecting a corner of the inner tent, one can create a virtual vestibule and keep the inner tent dry while entering or exiting in rainy conditions. Its dome design handles snow loading well, and its roominess and light weight lend themselves very well to mobile journeys, where you pitch your tent each day. Little wonder then that it has become a favorite of paddle tourers, year ‘round backpackers, mountaineers, cycle tourers and casual campers alike.

Use : The company claims year round use with this tent but as is, I would disagree. With a double wall tent that features a fabric inner, these are not used in the warmer months and that’s because such a design was created for winter time, cold conditions. The fabric walls limit air flow, they block wind and they hold in heat….this is everything that you don’t want in the warmer months. Using a tent that features a fabric inner in the warmer months translates to a miserable experience unless you are at high elevations where its rather windy and cool.

Replacement Inner : Luckily Hilleberg has thought of this and offers a mesh inner body for warmer areas; these inner kits are rather expensive ($230)

Vestibule - You can disconnect the inner closest to the door so that you have a vestibule : Also this is a good way to protect the inner tent from getting wet when entering and exiting during a rain event.


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Monday, January 17, 2022

The Absolute WORST - Wadeo Wood Burning Stove Review

The Absolute WORST - Wadeo Wood Burning Stove Review

Luke is back with another 100% Agenda Free Review of a wood burning stove from the company known as Wadeo.

This happens to be the biggest piece of JUNK and I wouldn't waste your money on's terrible in just about every single way possible.

This is Luke's review of the Wadeo Wood Burning's a P.O.S.
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Wadeo Wood Burning Camp Stove

...It features the absolute worst of designs and in fact, this is the worst wood burning stove I have ever seen.

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Materials : 304 Stainless Steel

Weight : 2lbs 3.3oz

Dimensions :
9.5” tall
6.5” x 6.5” at the bottom
4.25” x 4.25” at the top

Pot Support Measurements :
5.5” x 5.5” side to side
Diagonally 8”

Price : $22

Best Use : While you can use this stove with a small cup, it is a designed for larger pots and pans

Included : Case, stove, saw, bellows

Review Pros :

Easy to put together and to take apart - stoves like this can be difficult to get together. That isn’t the case in this situation as everything fits together easy enough. That's not to say the design is great because it's not.

Speaking of which, the overall design of this stove is TERRIBLE and it’s not one that i have seen before….for a good reason.

The bottom panels are strange and are dangerous and don’t lock into place. I’ll talk more about this in a moment

Back to the pros, I have three;

Easy enough to put together
Can support large pots
Cools quickly

That’s all…

Now onto the cons….

Review Cons :

Weight - Company Claims : Lightweight - No, not really. This is a fairly heavy stove and it’s noticeable in your hand especially when you compare this to similarly sized wood stoves.

Weird overall design that hinders overall use and functionality.

The bottom panel which is meant to hold and support your fuel has WAY TOO MANY holes in it; way too many and they are way too large. So big in fact that the wood that you put in this stove will fall through as you fill it and use it.

The bottom panels come in two pieces and they do not lock into place. This slows down the setup process and creates a weak point for this stove. If you jostle those plates when using this stove you can dislodge the panels; at that point you could have a problem on your hands with your burning debris falling to the ground

The bottom panels present a serious safety issue; so much burning debris will fall through on to the ground….

The large feeding port is at the bottom of the stove; while in theory this allows for large pieces of wood to be burned, the overall stove design hinders this fact. You have to have a good amount of burning material present to ignite larger pieces of wood; that burning material is going to be present at the bottom, which is the feeding port. Normally you load large pieces of wood higher up on a stove due so that they can be exposed to high heat and because the bottom on the stove is going to be full of embers and your smaller burning material. Feeding this stove isn’t easy as you feed it at the bottom of the stove…you need to feed a wood stove like this from the top/

Air holes at the top of the stove can be used to feed the stove but they are rather small considering the overall size of this stove.

The bottom of the legs are sharp and can easily scratch whatever surface that you rest this stove on. This isn’t all that important but you do have to be careful where you put it.

Using this stove with with an alcohol stove is nonsensical. The stove itself sits way too low for it to be efficient. This is BS claim made by the company.

The company shows this stove being used with solid fuel…that too is nonsensical as the fuel is too far away from the bottom of your pot, it is highly inefficient.

Stove when it is put together isn’t all that solid. It doesn’t fall apart when you are moving it but the bottom panels can come loose and the body flexes.

The pot supports are designed to gain attention in a picture on Amazon rather than be useful. It’s the first thing that I noticed about this stove and is why I decided to purchase it.

You can see how it raises as you go out on the supports and this offers no benefit when it comes to using this stove. A simple pot support would have been much, much better.

Do not buy this.
Don’t give this company your hard earned money.


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