Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Customize Your Griptillian -- And We Both Did

Updated with pictures of both of our knives.

A very few weeks ago we reported reported on our trip to the Medina Gun Show where we held and fondled for the first time a Benchmade Mini-Griptillian EDC knife.  Steve ordered one that evening for Kimberly (in Pink of course) at "Customize Your Griptillian" on the Benchmade website.  All along he had hoped to give it to her for Christmas, but when it came he had to give it right away and see her reaction.  She was thrilled with the plain edged sheepsfoot/thumb hole blade with the pink handle.  Turns out Kimberly was looking for an orange one for Steve and had not found what she knew he wanted. When pointed to the Customize You Griptillian website she placed a custom order for Steve.  And now it is here and Steve's turn to be thrilled! It is a thing of beauty and balance.  It is exceedingly sharp and fun to open and close.  It cut through some reinforced cardboard boxes like a "hot knife through butter."  Clearly the finest knives we have ever owned.  Steve's knife is a drop point thumb stud plain edged blade in 154CM steel. We were both able to designate the color of the screws, that axis and the liner, as well as choose the type of clip.

And the best part, if we misplace or lose it, the words on the blade can have it speeding back to us.  When we ordered it we had to designate a warranty service center and our own excellent outfitter here in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Appalachian Outfitters came up and we selected it.  They have Benchmade knives.  Go take a look.  Tell them we sent you.

Here is our customized mini-griptillian EDC (everyday carry) knives by Benchmade.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Search and Rescue with Troop One Akron

Kimberly and I have been certified in Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid.  This 16+ hour course is incredibly important for all leaders who go out into the woods camping, hiking and backpacking with youth, but can pay off for couples off on their own in the wilderness as well. It is based on the BSA Wilderness First Aid Curriculum and doctrine Guidelines. Our boy scout troop and venturing crew has 9 youth and 8 adults certified.  Some of the youth have served on staff of a subsequent W&RFA course as have Kimberly and Steve and 5 or 6 of our youth have taught the first aid sessions for Outdoor Leader Skills courses where Steve has been the Course Director.

So the introduction of the Search and Rescue Merit Badge (requirements link) was very welcomed and created excitement and we have just complete our first highly successful Troop One Search and Rescue Weekend.  We tried to follow the Incident Command System that is offered by FEMA and required to earn the SAR MB.  The story of the scenario is told in the slide show pictures and below.  Three scouts were discovered to be missing and a search ensued and a rescue was needed.   
* *

A scout's tent buddy interrupts the SAR MB class and says "Has anyone seen my tent partner?"  Discussion ensues and an Assistant Scoutmaster says he sent him to the Campmaster earlier that morning.  The scouts decide that it would be fun to try out the search techniques under the incident command system (ICS) that they have just learned about. After a hasty search they learn from the Campmasters that there are actually 3 scouts missing. 

So what was the story?
  1. One scout (Scout 1) tried swinging on a vine and suffered a bad fall. He is immobile and he could not get up and be assisted by his buddies. He is drifting in and out of consciousness, mostly from the pain. He has a broken right lower leg and a collar bone break. He is in a lot of pain and weak from his injuries, from yelling and the pain. 
  2. Scout 3 goes for help while Scout 2 remains with the first scout.  Scout3, sets out alone and is seriously scared, starts running the wrong way, is medically fine but wandering aimlessly lost and not able to get help.
  3. Scout 2 decided it has been too long and (not thinking clearly due to the cold) sets out to seek help.  He has left his coat over Scout1 so Scout 2 is getting very cold.  He doesn't make it too far before he is balled up shivering on the ground unable to think and motivate himself to go back for his coat or on for help.

Look at the slide show and let us know what you think about our SAR morning. in the afternoon we hosted the Ohio Search Dog Association and will have a report on that later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Benchmade Mini-Griptillian EDC Knife (and it's pink)

Awesome find for us.

The @scoutingcouple went to the Medina County OH Gun Show yesterday and were overwhelmed at the choices including seeing the knife we have both lusted for, the Benchmade Mini-Griptillian.  This knife is a pleasure to hold in both Kimberly's small hands and Steve's larger ones.  It has an assisted opening action that is amazingly smooth and very easy.  Kimberly loved the feeling of it and feels it is perfect for the small hand.  The tip is tucked in nicely and the blade is firmly seated when closed and there is no fear it will come open in the pocket or as clipped which has happened with other blades Kimberly has owned. 

The picture included here is from the Benchmade website and you may click on it to go directly to their site.  If you want to see the choices available click here for Amazon's listings for the Mini-Griptillian or go to the product page at  This pink version supports breast cancer research and is a great match for Kimberly's collection of pink outdoor gear.

This 2.56 oz knife is a great EDC and we believe might be a great all purpose knife for the go-bag and for backpacking.
Update:  You can customize yours, we did.  

A couple of video reviews after the jump.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bouldering at Cucumber Falls

While the scouts, venturers and frontier girls were safely underground at Laurel Caverns with their professional guides and our willing adults, the scouting couple was off to nearby Ohio Pyle State Park (the scene of our May 2013 adventure) and spent most of our time at Cucumber Falls.  While the Autumn leaves were somewhat past the peak, the view was outstanding and the natural wonder that is Cucumber Falls made for a perfect Saturday playground.  Nothing says it better than the slides below.  It was nice to add to our collection of waterfalls. Enjoy them.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

October Nights, Hypothermia and REI

@REI Settlers Ridge, PA
Be Prepared...  

for a dirty and fun cavern exploration experience with clothes you can get dirty.  Check.
Have a change of clothes for after the shower and a bag to put all the dirty cloths in.  Check.
Make sure you have plenty of warm layers not counting the dirty ones. Not checked.
Make sure you are prepared for a sudden rain storm while you are still at the caverns.  Not checked!
Make sure you are ready to find your tent and sleeping bag blown over and soaked when you get back to camp.  Not checked!!

This can challenge even veterans, it is a tragedy for the inexperienced and under prepared.  With air temps in the 40s, soaked and shivering scouts had to be dealt with.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scouting underground

Laurel Highlands in Autumn
2010 before the dirt...
Well we are off to Laurel Caverns in PA today four our almost always annual visit to do some spelunking. We will be staying at the Heritage Scout Reservation, but will spend most of Saturday at the caverns.  The leaves should be beautiful for our passion for photography and the youth are guaranteed to come out dirty and happy.  Those in the lower cave will be the dirtiest and possibly the happiest.  Check out their website for all of the adventures Laurel Caverns offer scouting. 

And for us, a highlight will be to have the troop and crew visit REI at Settlers Ridge.

Caving has an important place in scouting and we have a responsibility to care for the environment of these fragile places.  The BSA Field book has a great chapter on it (and it's free). Also at there is a great page on BSA and Caving.  Linked there is the Guide to Safe Scouting and policies about caving that any leader should be familiar with.  In particular all should know about the tragedy called white-nose syndrome and what the BSA's responsibility is to help not be part of the problem.

Will it be like 2008 or 2010?
Well scouts know how to stay warm ... 2010

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Area 4 Conference for Central Region BSA - What's in Store for Venturing?

Update: May 23, 2013 The Venturing program Announcement is official at the BSA Annual Meetings (see

On October 6, 2012 we attended the Area 4 Training Conference (Central Region, BSA) and spent time in the morning learning about recommended changes to the Venturing Program from a member of the task force recommending the changes.  Those of us in attendance got to also talk about and share the issues and challenges we each face.

Venturing will look different (probably starting in 2015) and we liked much of what we heard.  Much of the program we love will stay intact, but the recognition system seems like it will be much more ordered and easier to comprehend.  (read more after the following jump)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Backpacking in the Fall

 Summer officially ended and we haven't been on a single backpacking trip and my pack and boots are anxious to change that this fall. The leaves will change soon and standing on a ridge overlooking a red, gold, and brown valley would be splendid. Even better is combining that ridge line view with the up close view of an amazing waterfall or standing on the banks of a running stream will put the hurried world where it belongs for a few hours.  Where do you like to go this time of year?
Pictures are from our Backpacking trip in the Cuyahoga Valley National park last October.  We stayed over night at the Stanford Backcountry campsites after a day on the Buckeye Trail.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Backpack with your spouse. What a concept!

Damien at shares this with us  My best backpacking partner is my wife, so this comes as no surprise.  However, if you haven't thought of it, you should.  We don't get to go out enough between the demands of work and the demands of our Boy Scout and Venturing Units, but there is nothing quite as much fun as hitting the trail with the one you love.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Post Summit Shakedown thoughts (and Photos)

Last month, July 13-17, 2012, we were lucky enough to take 8 Venturers to the Summit Bechtel Reserve.  This fabulous new high-adventure base and permanent home to the BSA National jamborees (and host of the 2019 World Scout Jamboree) is over 10,000 acres of wild wonderful West Virginia in Steve's hometown of Mount Hope.  We got an awesome peek at parts of the plans for the 2013 Jamboree and got to pay for the privilege of being test subjects for their processes and plans.  Some when as planned, some didn't, but the 2013 National Jamboree will be so much better since we were there.  With about 2,000 attendees we saw and participated in camping at subcamp C, hiking to Action Point, Adventure Valley and Garden Ground mountain.  At Action point there was canopy tours, zip lines, challenge rope courses, climbing towers, skate boarding, BMX biking and more.  At Adventure Valley at low gear and high gear there was mountain biking.  On the last day the Venturers and Scouts went whitewater rafting. We were paired with new friends from Kansas and Virginia and nightly heard from the folks at the top of the great enterprise that SBR represents.  You can see much of this in our pictures below. 

Enjoy these photos taken on our trip to SBR

Clicking on the above photos should take you to the Picasa Album.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lafuma Micro Popup chair

Super comfy Lafuma Micro Popup chair
Worth every dollar.  This little chair fits in the duffel and on the side of a day pack  and is ultimately comfortable.

 2013 Update:  Still love the lafuma chairs, but there is a new winner for our pack backs.   See our new blog entry on the BSA UL chair.

2012 Update:  Having these at the 2012 Summit Shakedown @bechtelsummit made a world of difference. Light enough at 2.5 pounds to carry strapped to the day pack or to a meeting where standing or hard chairs are available.  We got tons of complements and "where did you get those" questions.  The answer is at, however we have a direct link to Amazon which sells them as well.  (Steve has decided that if it ever breaks he is ordering another that very moment.) They seem very strong and sturdy.  The chair is surprisingly easy to get up from compared to the pad type on-the-ground chairs.  Putting boots on and changing socks from this chair is a breeze.

See more pictures after the jump including an update.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

UltraLight Backpacking for Scouts

Mike Dubrall ( brings us a good read on scouts getting into ultralight backpacking.  (HT  He says "The only way to significant lower your pack weight is to replace your backpack, tent/shelter, and sleeping system – often called the “Big Three of Backpacking” and pay the price at the cash register."

I will never get my pack weight down to 15 pounds, but he is right that significant changes can be made in the sleeping system, pack and tent.  Elsewhere, we have reviewed our Big Agnes tent (4.6 lbs), our small sleeping systems (mine is 2.47 pounds) sleeping bag, pad and pillow, Kimberly's is 3.4 pounds), and my pack is an REI flash pack (REI link) (3 pounds) and Kimberly's Gregory Jade (REI link) is 3.97 for a total of 7.7 lbs for me and 9.7 for Kimberly -- that is tent, sleeping system and pack.  Not so bad for a couple of aging scouters.

Here is Mike Dubrall's chart from his blog for your comparison.  Where does your stuff fall?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 UL Tent Review

The big Agnes Copper Spur 3 is the ideal tent for us.  We saw this as the Backpacker Magazine tent of the year 2011 and loved its features.   We went to REI in Pittsburgh and with our substantial member rebate purchased our most expensive tent so far.

We have purchased quite a few tents and this is absolutely our "go to" tent for all outings.  It is worth every penny, er, dollar.

See our review after the jump.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Best Purchase(s) Ever

Earlier in this blog, Steve told you about his small sleeping system. This post is about my system.

After spending a 4 day camping trip laying on rock in the early 2000's, I had decided camping would require cots and a very large tent to accommodate them. The large tent then begged to be filled up with more and more gear. On scout trips the scoutmaster was easy to find because all you had to do was look for the largest tent in the group. It wasn't long before our camping accommodations were referred to as the "Taj Mahal". We had all the comforts of home, but being the last ones to set up and the last ones to tear down was getting old.

7 Habits of a Comfortable Aging Scouter

My family used to camp when I was a teenager and I hated it and avoided it as a young adult. When I married a scoutmaster, I knew it was time to give it a second chance. It's amazing what you can learn from an Eagle scout. If you ever have a chance to camp with one, I highly recommend it!  To see my 7 habits read on after the jump.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Repair, even Gore-tex(r) or have your down re-lofted.

I was reading Brian's Backpacking Blog and found a link to Rainy Pass Repair, Inc.  The examples of repairs made there are amazing and while we have not had need for their services, when it comes time they will be high on my list.  I had no idea this fine company existed.  If you have Gore-tex(r) or down (or any other) items in need of repair check them out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

JOGR Ultralight Backpacking Stove

Seriously, I was just looking at backpacking equipment and I see this stove (see the JOGR advertisement at the left).  I could not pass it by and another item falls to our Amazon one-click ordering.  We are huge fans of the Jet Boil cooking system, but little stove might be just the thing for a backup or primary stove.  After all we cannot fry good eggs on a Jet Boil. Now we need to look for cooking gear...

Review of the JOGR UL stove:

It arrived in a surprisingly small package and you can watch the unboxing below. It is truly small and seems fairly well built.  I like its compact size and that it includes a piezo lighter build in. It weighed in at 3.4 oz by itself and 4.0 oz in the plastic orange protective box.  It holds a pot fairly stable (I used a Snow Peak 600 titanium).  I don't think you can beat this stove for the money, buy two and have a back up.  The stove can be regulated to a low flame and as such beats the Jet Boil for anything except for boiling water. The story in pictures.  If you get one let us know how you like it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Arlington National Cemetary

picture by Steven Myers

Next weekend (June 24, 2012) we are heading to Washington DC to be present as members of Boy Scout Troop One lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  This is a real honor for the boys and for all family and friends of Troop One.

Update: After 850 miles we are home and below is the best of the best pictures of the event.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Small System

My small system
Next summer we are heading to the National Jamboree in Mount Hope WV and will spend a few days sleeping on the floor of a church as 90 youth and adults tour southern WV before we enter the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Sleeping on the floor isn't the greatest idea, but I intend to be comfortable.  Kimberly has a similar system and may share hers with you in a later post.  (Update: she does here)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hunting Waterfalls in WV

On our last trip to the New River Gorge we did the Timber Top Canopy tour at Adventures on the Gorge and in the gift shop found a book by Ed Rehbein and Randall Sanger with the most beautiful and inviting pictures of waterfalls in the New River Gorge.  However, the handy insert in the back listing all the GPS coordinates of the waterfalls was the reason for the purchase.  With that  our plan to do some hiking faded as we grabbed our day packs and cameras and headed to find as many as we  could find on one day.  The result were falls from Dunlop Creek, Mill Creek, Glade Creek and more as you can see in the embedded slideshow after the jump. Enjoy.

Solar Showers

From How about a solar camp shower for $4.88?  Not sure? lists a lot of choices as well. Let us know if you think these are good ideas?  These are also useful for having a supply of warm water to wash hands when you hang it near your camp kitchen.  Downside, heavy when filled (8.3 lbs per gallon of water).  We have one that looks a lot like this one in the picture.

But if all you have is ambient water showers, this can help cut through the cold. For our unboxing and review read on after the jump.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First entry and about us

Babcock State Park, WV, picture of
Kimberly Myers by Steven Myers
Hi! This is a first posting on our blog.  We have decided to try this for the fun of it and to share some of the fun we have had getting involved in the outdoors in a big way.  We are an older couple and as such are not here to impress the youth (except for our wisdom) and neither are we "die hards" or fanatics of camping and backpacking, but we have fun and that is what we hope to express in this blog.  Much of our outdoor fun is in scouting, but this is not to be a scouting only blog, since we also enjoy getting out on the trail or to a campsite on our own.  If you follow from time to time, we hope you enjoy.

Steve and Kimberly Myers


This blog is our own personal reflections and opinions and recommendations and have nothing to do with any organizations we serve nor should anything said here be construed as an official statement on behalf of any organization. The reference to scouting together is because of our love of the movement in which we volunteer much of our time.