Gear: Tilley H5 Hemp Hat

This week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I thought I’d write about one of my favourite hats.

Way back in 1993 I was a boy scout. I was one of twelve thousand kids who attended the 8th Canadian Scout Jamboree in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta. If you are wondering what this has to do with a hat, then just know that with some spending money in our pockets and a day trip into the town of Banff, a small group of us spent our treasure on Tilley hats as a souvenir of the week-long campout.

While I still have that Jamboree souvenir hat over a quarter century later, sadly my teenage sense of style and taste didn’t end up fitting with my adult groove. The “natural” hued cotton duck was also a little sweat-stained and grungy, and generally I really just wanted a fresh look.

That’s the logic behind why, in 2014, I upgraded and bought myself a model H5 Hemp Hat in mocha brown.

The history of the Tilley Endurables company reaches back into the eighties, and while the company has since been sold and resold, it started off as a true Canadian tale of success. For about twenty years there, if you wanted a high quality Canadian lid for your outdoor adventures, a Tilley hat was a no-brainer for your brain.

In the nearly seven years since owning this particular hat it has toured Canada, the US, Mexico, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. It has climbed to the tops of mountains, wandered along the ocean-side beach, and explored countless forests. It has been driving, flying, cruising, boating, camping, backpacking, fishing, and represented Canada at an authentic Highland Games. In fact, I’ve worn it in no less than eight countries, and that’s all of the ones I’ve visited since acquiring it.

It’s starting to get a little sweat-stained and grungy, too.

Note: this is a piece of gear I’ve owned for a while, and this post is not an endorsement (at least, it’s not a paid one.)

Gear: CRKT Tactical Folding Blade

I’ve had a couple trusty knives in my possession for nearly as long as I can remember. And this week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I’m digging into a blade I was given by my brother as a best-man gift for his wedding nearly twenty years ago.

The CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool) model SRT-HRE is a matte black, single blade, folding knife with a simple spring-arm lock in the hilt.

The reverse side features a simple pocket clip which adds about 50% to the depth profile, making this about 1 cm thick by 16 cm long open (9 cm long closed.)

What I Googled told me that the SRT-HRE code translates to: Special Response Team – High Risk Environment, and I couldn’t find this model for sale on the manufacturer website, so I’m going to assume it’s out of production. And, in light of the crazy insurrection-type action going on with our southernly neighbours this month, I’m going to add that I’ve only ever used this knife for peaceful, outdoorsy cutting which makes it more of a Average Guy Club – Low Risk Wandering knife, or AGC-LRW for short.

The top two-thirds of the blade is a curved, smooth edge while the bottom third is a serrated edge.

It’s light and strong, and feels good in the hand and I’ve used it for nearly two decades of general outdoor utility like cutting rope, feathering kindling, and cutting vegetation. I’ve also kept it handy while camping for food preparation and as a general purpose steak-knife. It’s not nearly long enough to fillet a fish, but it might serve in a pinch.

This is the kind of knife I toss into my pocket whenever I go camping, out for a long, woodsy walk or a photo expedition. You never know when you need to cut a bit of branch or pry something loose.

Note: this is a piece of gear I’ve owned for a while, and this post is not an endorsement (at least, it’s not a paid one.)

Book: Campfire Cuisine

For Thursdays I was thinking about starting a regular feature called Tuck & Tech that would let me muse about gear, books, recipes, and other kit. I’m neither sponsored nor provided any of these things. I just find them interesting or useful.

A curious recipe book showed up in my stocking this past Christmas: Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan seems to be a hearty collection of tasty dishes that meet a couple basic criteria around food transportation and storage as well as ease of preparation over a hot campfire.

A lot could be said about the fact that the wife and I have already conversed about trying some of the collection of marinades, breakfasts, sandwiches, and main courses at home first. There is nothing necessitating a campout cook style for many of the dishes … which, I guess, means that the collection is a solid book of hearty dishes that also happens to be amenable to cooking and eating in the great outdoors.

It’s the middle of deep winter as I write this, and I did have a short campfire in the chilly backyard for New Year’s Eve, but we used it to symbolically torch the 2020 calendar and I wasn’t comfortable cooking on those flames afterwards. Our simple go-to would likely have been pulling out the marshmallows to make s’mores, after a round of grilled hot dogs.

Yet this book definitely seems to be more than one-dish meals or meats-on-sticks.

I re-read the introduction this morning again and it lit a feeling of kinship between myself and the author. There was a symmetry of philosophy in those words, even as I set off (it’s still my first week) to write a daily blog checking boxes that Donovan checked long before me, and in print to boot.

Living to eat well.

Travelling to taste and experience.

Savouring experiences.

I’ve yet to try any of the recipes, and definitely not over a firepit, but for that synergy alone I’ll be pouring over the hundred-ish recipes in the book now (and as warmer tent camping weather approaches) to construct the menu for our next outbound excursion.