Ever since my Forest Service days as a wilderness ranger in the Wind River Range of southwestern Wyoming, I often carry with me a small Optimus cook stove that never fails in the high altitudes of the 13,000-foot peaks or a roadside scenic pullout.
The self-pressurizing burner lights without a pump. The power-simmering feature makes those high altitude dishes that are often difficult to bring to a boil, brought to a boil with convenience. This is a true expedition stove, actually made in Sweden, and used by NATO forces in the field. Optimus has been making stoves since 1899!
The Twister cleaning needle allows you to clean the burner jet while cooking and reduces the risk of unexpected shutdowns. The fuel flow is controlled directly at the burner jet.
The Hunter is truly a one-piece design. There is no assembly required. The integrated tank guarantees great pressure build-up and even works wonderfully in cold high altitude conditions. The Hunter weighs more than my simple Optimus and may be more suited for packing with a beast of burden. The steel case assures that if it does get knocked around, it will still function properly. I still rely on my thirty-year-old Optimus for solo long haul backcountry fishing and backpacking hikes.
Brunton now allows you the power to recharge your cell phone; computer, FRS radio, flashlight, and other rechargeable gear while you are in the field. The portable Solar Powerpak does it all. It connects to virtually any rechargeable electronic device, and it charges up to four AA NiCad or Nickel Metal Hybrid rechargeable batteries. There is a 12-volt accessory plug included to charge cellular phones and computer rechargeable batteries. You can easily switch from 6v to 12v. Included in the unit is a multi-connector DC adapter, which can run a variety of small portable electronics; the battery clamps can recharge GV lead acid/gel cell batteries. Wow. It does do it all.
There is a convenient extra storage space for four AA batteries. The built-in reverse current protection prevents current flow damage. The tilting solar panel is about a foot long and it can be moved to maximize the sun exposure.
Once those batteries are recharged you can pop three of the AA sizes into the "Two Lights In One" Lamplight Led Flashlight and Lantern. Brunton really "enlightened" me with this all-around pocket-sized flashlight/lantern. It is a fixture in my outdoors adventures. I even used it once to light up a menu in a dark restaurant.
With just a simple pull the flashlight turns into a glowing lantern. I tried it out in the dark spaces of Nevada desert, and what amazed me was that there was nary a trace of the nefarious bulb circle in the middle seen in most flashlights "lights". Many years ago an inventor claimed patent rights for his invention — claiming he had eliminated the bulb dead light circle — you know, that tiny center in all spotlights that is like a dead hole in your retina. The patent office turned him down, saying no such thing could be invented, but maybe that inventor is over at Brunton, because this light is the closest I have witnessed to this night owl nightmare.
The flashlight comes with a lanyard for easy wrist or belt attachment, and the modern industrialized metal grip feels strong in your hand. This is probably the most useful light I have ever owned. The LED bulb is made in Japan, and you get about 200 hours of operation from the three included batteries.
Now that you can see better at night, Brunton makes it easier for you to see by day with the Lite Tech Binoculars. I call these lightweight type binoculars "mountaineer glasses". They are strong and light — made from high impact composites; now there is no reason not to carry a pair into the high reaches of your favorite mountain massifs.
The Lite-Tech series from Brunton comes with a one year limited warranty, free of defect and workmanship and materials.
Every center focus binocular has a diopter setting, usually located on the right barrel, to allow for individual eye adjustments. To focus, pick an object about 75 feet away. Shut out the light coming into the barrel with the diopter adjustment on it. This can be done by shutting your eye or placing a hand over the objective lens. Then turn the focus wheel until you can see the sharpest image with the most detail. Once adjusted, take the binoculars from your eyes and then refocus. Place your hand over the other objective lens or shut your eye. Without touching the focus wheel, view the same object and rotate the diopter ring until a sharp focus is attained. Then look through both barrels simultaneously. The image from the two barrels should be sharp and in focus. Voila — that charging bull elk is closer that he appears.
Now where to put all this wonderful gear to use?
Drop into your computer one of the eight CD-ROM National Geographic Maps from the Complete Map Set (over 500 different Maps ranging back over 100 years) and you can find a spot literally "on the map" to explore, discover, or armchair travel.
The National Geographic CD ROM Map Set is a guided tour with full photo, video, and audio enhancements, including: people of the past, war in the 20th century, our changing earth, space, and the environment.
Plan your own personal trips to the outback, the Sahel, the Amazon, Patagonia, the Gobi, or take a historical tour of the Orient, visit ancient Israel, the Middle East, or the battlelines of massive wars. When plotting your course you can zoom in on exact geographic locations.
You have unprecedented access to this archive of cartographic content and navigational features. This is an unrivaled gift for the world traveler in your life. Punch in a few keywords and you can locate and run the richly illustrated charts. Then print them out and you are on your way to discovery!
Digging Up The Past With
Biblical Archaeology Review's New CD-ROM
Speaking of historical and archaeological discovery, there are thousands of ancient relics still to be found in Israel and the Middle East. Since 1975 the Biblical Archaeological Review has published their quarterly magazine for the Biblical scholar and layman.
What I have enjoyed about their magazine is the easy reading manner of the features; these are stories that bring to light the latest digs, finds, discoveries, and polemics of this archaeological rich region.
Each feature comes with a table of contents for that particular edition, and the maps and photos are blown up with a single mouse click, complete with descriptive captions.
This stunning CD-ROM, powered by Logos Bible Software, contains more than 1,000 breathtaking images—archaeological sites, artifacts, inscriptions, maps, ancient manuscripts, wonderful vistas, and stunning architecture—with extensive captions written by world-renowned scholars.
What makes this a treasure in your library is that you can follow the evidence from the digs and relate it to Bible passages from the King James Version, which is also included. When reading the text, click on the passage within the text and you get the New Testament version of the passage.
What I like about the BAR CD-ROM is that when planning a vacation for myself to the region I can research the past and walk in antiquity, along side the Patriarchs, the Pharaohs, the Kings, and the Prophets.
You can easy access later editions of the BAR magazine via the internet.
Now that all you gear heads have the gear you need to mount an expedition, the historical maps once you get there, and a trove of valuable research at your finger tips, contact the Israel Government's Tourism office (http://www.infotour.co.il/ in Israel, or in the U.S. http://www.goisrael.com/) and find out about the latest volunteer digs!
Or dig up the past at the BAR site for digs at http://www.bib-arch.org/bswbDigBAR.html.
— By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.