This column was first published March 15, 2008
It doesn’t matter what your choice of outdoor diversion is, there’s going to come a moment or two when you’re going to want to take a load off, a rest you might say. The older I get the more often that moment comes around.
But just where to take that respite is often the question. Say it’s snowing. You don’t want to plunk down in the snow without something under your backside. It is supposed to be restful, after all.
Or say it has been raining. You don’t want to sit and get your butt all wet, now, do you? What to do when it’s a rocky spot, or even a spongy one? You want something under you that will keep you dry, but most of all comfortable, right?
A square of closed-cell sleeping pad will often do the trick if you have an old one you want to sacrifice. Lacking that, you may want to look at something a little more commercial and way more comfortable and supportive.
That’s where the Crazy Creek Chair came from. If you’ve been around more than a few minutes, you know what they are, and chances are you’ve got one or two. Back in 1987, Rob Hart, founder and owner of Crazy Creek Products, put his appreciation for the simple to work to solve the problem of having an insulated pad to sit on along with something to support a weary back. He started with a wooden canoe chair, used some updated, high-tech materials, sewed on some heavy-duty web straps on each side with adjustable buckles to give the back the proper tilt and amount of support and the Original Crazy Creek chair was born.
They really are a practical piece of gear for most outdoor pursuits, providing an insulated, cushioned seat for your bottom and support for your back while you’re seated on the ground (or anywhere else, for that matter). I’ve taken mine on numerous outings, most recently on a snowshoe hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail. Four of us tromped out a picnic spot in the snow and plunked down on our Crazy Creeks and enjoyed a meal and comfortable rest.
If there’s one drawback to the Original Crazy Creek Chair, it’s the clunkiness of the beast. Basically it’s a 15-inch square a bit more than an inch thick of somewhat inflexible bulk. It will tie onto the front of your pack or lay in the bottom of your kayak hatch, but your stowage options are limited by its square dimensions.
Until now, that is. Enter the new HexaLite Original Chair, the lightest offering from the company that brought comfort to the outdoor rest stop. It uses 1/2-inch hexagonal-cored foam covered on the interior with a polyester mesh seating surface. The exterior is 420D-coated rip-stop nylon fabric. Its overall dimensions, 33 by 15 inches, are the same as the original. It has carbon fiber stays for flex and durability, the company says.
The hollow-mesh core not only provides good comfort and insulation (I comfortably sat on the deck the other night for 20 minutes in 20-degree temperatures), it allows the chair to be folded in half and rolled into a 4-inch tube 15 inches long. It has a detachable handle that does double duty, keeping the rolled-up chair tightly compacted.
But the best feature is that the new chair is 11.2 ounces lighter than the original chair and it’s the same size, tipping the scales at 14.8 ounces (vs. 26 ounces). Now there should be no reason not to take the comfort of home on any outing. I plan to make it my new best friend and adopt Crazy Creek’s creed: “Don’t Just Do Something – Sit There!”
If you’re into a little more comfort and a little more size, check out the HexaLite LongBack Chair, which measures 38 by 18 inches and weighs 18.5 ounces.
For more information about their products, write to Crazy Creek Products, Inc., P.O. Box 1050, 1401 South Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068 or go to their Web site at www.crazycreek.com.
Lockback camping knife
If you’re like me, there are a few items in your collection of outdoor stuff that you just can’t have enough of – headlamps, bandanas, little first aid kits, compasses and knives. I know several people who, like me, find a new favorite knife every so often and just carry it around forever.
Such is the case with this little royal blue Sheffield Lockback pictured here. I responded to an e-mail, I think, that invited me to try one out. Being a sucker for a new gadget, I grabbed it when it arrived and carried it about, attached to a belt loop for a couple of weeks, then on just about every outing I took. I’ve had it now for months.
It’s small (about 3 1/8 inches closed and 51/4 inches open) with a black, anodized, partially serrated 3-inch stainless steel blade. It attaches to your belt loop with a mini-caribiner and nylon strap. The aluminum-handled knife clips to the strap via a special C-shaped clip and button arrangement. Depress the button on the knife and the clip lets go of the knife. There’s no way you can jostle the knife free so it won’t get lost, at least while it’s clipped to you. (Set it down somewhere and forget where you left it, now that’s a different story. Trust me, I’ve done that.)
Another feature that makes this little knife more useful is its one-handed operation. It’s not as slick and easy as some I’ve tried, but you can open the blade with one hand, which comes in handy at times. I found that opening the blade before freeing the knife from the lanyard helped. It holds the end of the knife body while you flick the blade open with your thumb.
Folding the knife and putting it back on the lanyard takes two hands, at least it does me. Like all lock-back knives, you need to push down on the spine while folding the blade back into the handle. It can be done with one hand but not safely. Likewise, reclipping the knife to the lanyard requires depressing the button on the knife and inserting the C-clip into the end. I defy you to do that with one hand.
The knife comes with a limited lifetime warranty and it is now sold at Black & Decker Factory Stores. To locate a store visit www.blackanddecker.com. For more information about Sheffield knives, visit www.greatnecksaw.com.
Jeff Strout’s column is published on Saturdays.